Yellow Wallpaper by Cp Gilman Essay

Total Length: 922 words ( 3 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 2

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The constant suppression of her husband to let her roam around the house, and his insistence to rest and sleep all day, became the catalyst for her to have delusions about the intricate patterns on the yellow wallpaper. Her daily 'imprisonment' inside the bedroom, and constant deliberation of where the pattern leads to and what the pattern is, revealed to the woman an important discovery: the pattern in the yellow wallpaper "... is like a woman stooping down and creeping about... By moonlight, it becomes bars!... [b]y daylight she is subdued, quiet. I fancy it is the pattern that keeps her so still." This summarized and showed best the woman's own feelings about her constant 'imprisonment' by her husband, and in general, by the society. The woman became aware that the pattern is a 'woman' like her. In fact, the wallpaper served as her reflection of everything that was happening to her, what she is feeling and thinking. The woman in the wallpaper symbolized her oppression, and the images she was seeing on the wallpaper made her realize that was also 'stooping down and creeping about,' and it was then that she started seeking her own empowerment by breaking free from the 'bars' that were her husband and her society.

The latter part of the story showed how the woman developed to become a stronger woman after several days of observing and discerning the pattern on the yellow wallpaper: "I really have discovered something at last. The front pattern does move -- and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it! Then in the very bright spots she keeps still, and in the very shady spots she just takes hold of the bar and shakes them hard." This statement showed how the woman gradually learned to assert herself, which was actually equivalent to her gradual descent to insanity.
This marked the crucial point in which the woman crossed the path from oppression to empowerment. Finally, the woman, at the end of the story, finally succumbed to insanity, and in her being insane, she finally gained her power over her husband and society, elements that suppressed her rights and womanhood. "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a complex study of a woman trying to break free from patterns or norms of a hostile society against women.


Gilman, C. E-text of the Yellow Wallpaper. Available at:

St. James, S. 2002. "Hanging the Yellow Wallpaper: Feminism and textual studies." Feminist Studies, Vol. 28, No. 2......

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