Struggle With Identity In The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is an evocative story about a woman suffering postpartum Depression. However, a close examination of the protagonist’s description and portrayal shows that it is more about her struggles with identity. The protagonist draws an illustration of a fictional woman. At first, she is called her shadow. However, her struggle with identity becomes clearer when her shadow starts to rattling against wallpaper’s bars.

The protagonist, who is kept in her own room and denied permission to leave it, becomes delusional because she has nothing to do. The room becomes a prison for her because it has “barred windows” for children, rings, and other items. The wallpaper even becomes a bar when it is lit at night by candlelight, candlelight, or lamplight (Gilman 648). She refers to the rooms features as bars in both cases. The protagonist feels trapped in her own room, and she begins to express her emotions through the wallpaper. As her confinement becomes more severe, her desire for freedom increases, the idea that the room acts as her prison turns from a metaphorical to a literal meaning. In the end, the woman behind wallpaper turns out to be a complicated hallucination compared with the shadowy silhouette at the beginning. The woman behind the wallpaper appears to be a formless woman, hiding behind a conspicuous and silly front design. This is similar to the shadows that all matter possess (Gilman 652). The wallpaper attempts to make her sick, but this is also changed by the end. The gradual personality shift she experiences is due to her isolation in her yellow room. The shadow’s form takes on a unique shape when her depression grips her more. The mirage becomes more apparent due to the protagonist’s inexplicable loneliness and her obsessiveness about her surroundings. She wrote that she didn’t see the shadow for long, but that it was a sub-pattern. Now, however, I believe it to be a woman. Gilman 653. She does not see the shadow in a normal human form. Instead, she considers it to be a woman.

Because the silhouette of the body isn’t just her shadow but also what she wants it to be, The fact that this “thing”, or woman, is called a woman allows her to express herself. The “dim pattern” is the bar that gives way to her shadow. It becomes a trap for her, and she takes on the identity as if it were a human. Her shifting identity is revealed by her transformation from a formless shadow into a hidden woman. The wallpaper makes the protagonist’s shadows appear to be the wallpaper-covered woman. According to Gilman 654, she claimed that she saw the woman on the long road beneath the trees and was “climbing along,” but when she sees a carriage, she hides behind the blackberry vines. These figures could represent the shadows of plants or animals in the garden where she has transformed herself into an artificial woman. Because she envisions the woman being capable of escaping during the day, her assertion may reflect her desire to socialize with the outside world.

Also, the protagonist sees the woman as her vicariously. The sections in which she starts to mimic the actions of the woman, such as creeping into her bedroom during the day, are evidence of her jealousy (Gilman 655). She is free from the nursery she occupies by using the hallucination. The protagonist appears to be behind wallpaper. However, if someone looks inside, it would be her. The yellow wallpaper room is her prison. She taunts her each night with her freedom, until finally the protagonist rips it away.

The story ends with the protagonist writing: “I have finally gotten out in spite you and Jane!” And I’ve pulled away most of this paper, so don’t try to take me back!” Gilman 656. The fact that Jennie is her sister-in–law makes it difficult for people to see, and Jane’s name, may make it seem more difficult. The narrator provides her own story, so her name is never mentioned. John is able to find her creeping about the room towards the end. This could only have happened if the person who is speaking is Jane. Jane and shadow woman seem to have swapped places. Jane is now thinking from the outside, while Jane is now thinking from the inside.

The story of “The Yellow Wallpaper” seems to focus on a woman who is driven mad by isolation and postpartum depression. But it’s more than that. The illusion of the protagonist’s shadow against wallpaper’s patterns drives her insane and eventually leads to her believing she and the “woman” have swapped places. While the story is disturbing because it centers on something sinister and the plot is intriguing, the writing is excellent. This story is full of information about mistreatment of women in 19th-century America and the limits of the human mind before it snaps.


  • zakhart

    Zak Hart is an educational blogger and professor who has been writing about education for over 10 years. He has written for various publications, including The Huffington Post and Edutopia, and has been a guest lecturer at various universities. Zak is the founder and director of the Edutopia Academy, an online education program that provides teachers with resources and lessons to help them improve their teaching skills.

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