“The Yellow Wallpaper” begins with a women being diagnosed with temporary nervous depression. She is prescribed with lots of rest and is forced to stay in a room with nothing to do but look at some yellow wallpaper. This causes the woman to go gradually insane; but, other than the wallpaper, there are far better reasons for her insanity: Her husband, John, superior males and society. The story has a spectacular ending with the wife finally dominating her husband, but, at the cost of her sanity.
Women are meant to be housewives in this period. I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal — having to be too sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition. ” Using the phrase “in spite of them” shows that no one was really in favor of her writing. This includes the women. Her use of “having to be too sly about it” shows that she doesn’t like the secretiveness as she uses “too”. This makes me suspicious to how far society has a dislike for her writing as she has to be overly sly when doing it. The woman is unconventional and therefore looked down on by society. She does not fit in.
All of the other women do as they are told while she does not follow these instructions. This makes her alone with no one to discuss her problems with, causing them to grow bigger and bigger. This causes the woman to go insane. When diagnosed with temporary nervous depression the ‘remedy’ was plenty of rest. “So I take phosphates or phosphites — whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again. The author’s use of the phrase “whichever it is” shows she does not know what medicines she is supposed to take and she does not particularly care.
She highlights the fact that she is made to rest “absolutely forbidden to “work””. By highlighting the word, “work” again shows the disapproval towards her job. She does not trust this procedure or the doctors putting it into practice. She does not seem to care about her medicines. Without being able to trust her medicines and doctors, she will not follow their orders causing her to become sicker than she already is. When first arriving in the house, the woman is indeed sane but frustrated. “No wonder the children hated it! I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long. With the repetition of the word “hate” and an exclamation mark included in this quote this gives the impression that the woman is shouting in anger at the thought of the wallpaper. Saying “if I had to live in this room long” show she does not want to be near the wallpaper. Using the word “had” shows that she would have to be forced in that room and the fact that she is living in the room later on shows that she was made by “someone”. In my opinion, it is obvious that, that “someone” is John, her husband, as he is very dominant of her.
After spending some time in that room with that wallpaper, she became paranoid. “It only interests me, but I feel sure John and Jennie are secretly affected by it. ” The fact that “it only interests me” means her writing only interests her. Everyone knows of her interest in writing and blames it for her ill health while no one knows of her interest in the wallpaper which is affecting her mental health. I feel that the woman’s interests are being persecuted by society and her husband. When the woman is openly interested in writing, it must have made her ill.
She hides her interest in the wallpaper as she is scared that they will persecute it. Though, by hiding her interest in the wallpaper from her husband and society, she indeed is scared that they will persecute it and which in turn drove her insane. Just before the woman is due to depart from the house, she finally becomes insane. “And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern — it strangles so, I think that is why it has so many heads. They get through, and then the pattern strangles them off and turns them upside down, and makes their eyes white! When referring to “she” in the quote the woman means herself and the pattern represents male dominance and society. “And she is all the time trying to climb through. ” This shows that she is not at ease with male dominance and society as she is always trying to escape from it. “They get through, and then the pattern strangles them off… ” By saying “strangles them off” this refers to killing those who try to escape from society and male dominance. Once you over-throw society and male dominance, it will kill you. The woman did not die but her mind did.
To overthrow society and male dominance, you must pay a price just as you would if you committed a crime. The story is trying to say that you cannot properly over throw it as it is bigger and more powerful. Without society we would become similar to the narrator, uncivilized and doing what we want. She over came the society within her life causing her to become insane. John loves his wife but he is very dominating of her. “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction. I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all care from me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more. The word “careful” is a connotation of fragility showing that John feels his wife is easily broken, not very strong. The phrase “special direction”, means ‘his directions, the way in which he wants her to go’. He is instructing her to do what he wants her to do and not what she wants to do.
With a “schedule prescription for each hour in the day”, I feel that this shows that John has planned out each and every moment of her life to go the way he wishes. John is certainly smothering his wife into leading a ‘proper’ life. She also says that “he takes all care from me. With the word “care” being a direct emotion, implying that he takes all the emotions away from her. He doesn’t want her to have feelings that he does not approve of. He is trying to mould her into something she is not. He takes control of his wife to such an extent that she has nothing for herself, not even her sanity. The woman says “I had to creep over him every time! ” This is showing even with John unconscious he still gets in her way. It is easily shown that she is annoyed by this, as the point is highlighted with an exclamation mark.
The woman has finally become free; but John, the symbol for male dominance and society, still gets in her way. She will never fully be free from them. To conclude, I find that the real horror hidden in this short story is the imprisonment of 19th century marriages, caused by the pressure from male dominance and society. Her imprisonment in a role she doesn’t want, with no control over her life, causes her to become so trapped that she tries to escape from it, not only causing her to triumph but also go insane, as you can never fully escape from society.