The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Categories: The Yellow Wallpaper

In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman clearly owes a lot to Edgar Allan Poe with her use of an unreliable narrator. But how is the insanity of Gilman’s narrator different from that of Poe’s? To put it another way, what do we get to see happen with Gilman’s narrator that we never get to see with Poe’s?

Edgar Allan Poe and Charlotte Perkins Gilman provide an effective understanding of important aspects in their lives with critical focus from their own points of reason, which makes it easier to understand the important concepts that are being developed by the authors.

The use of first person in the story development adds personal touch to the stories, which enhances narrative an overall understanding of the important issues that are considered in both stories. However, there exists differences on how they are able to engage their audiences based on the different forms of understanding that they aim to pursue even though it creates a better understanding on what they hope to achieve by engaging the audience.

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The picture developed in the mind of the audience based on Charlotte’s the yellow wallpaper is of a dejected woman who has been locked away as if she was insane. The clear development of points in this story is much more clear than those developed by Allan Poe. It is much easier to relate to the sentiments raised by Gilman than Allan Poe is since it relates to actual events in the society and situations that many people have been able to go through and talking about it shapes the understanding of important issues that people have especially women in their marriages.

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The feminism issues has been effectively highlight by Gilman with a clear language which make it much easier to understand the root cause and how they can be effectively controlled. The setting of the yellow wallpaper is in the 19th century but it is very clear that the issues that have been developed in this case are much clearer in the present day due to significant focus on reality(DAVISON, 2004).

In many essays and books written about the Gothic in literature, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is very often mentioned as a prime example of the “female Gothic.” This term presumes that, from the dominant male perspective, there is something inherently unsettling and frightening about WOMEN. Indeed, Gilman succeeds in making her female narrator quite scary. HOWEVER, a big point, which the female Gothic makes (especially examples written by female authors such as Gilman) is that these “scary or monstrous” women don’t just come from out of nowhere; they, are MADE or DRIVEN by certain forces toward monstrosity and fearsomeness. So what forces might be at work in the case of this narrator?

The environment under which women occupy within the society especially patriarchal society is very worrying since they are seen as property and have no voice and expected to abide by the status quo. The urge to be felt and succeed is a driving force among women who decide to change the status quo by talking about crucial experiences that face many women in the society. The need to develop a society based on equal understanding among men and women is key in the overall development of important voices of reason, which stand up and talk about change. Women deserve a chance and hoping for men to provide the platform under women can thrive is an illusion but it is upon the women themselves to put into focus what they need in life and develop strategies which can help them achieve their own desired outcome.

Gilman in her story provides a clear understanding on the overall impact a patriarchal society can have on women. Creating awareness is not only sensitizing the issues but also highlighting on important role that women are expected to play and free themselves since nothing good can be given to them plainly without airing their dejection and denouncing the status quo. A change that is motivated by the overall good is more likely to succeed since it is based on the crucial understanding of what each individual wants and what is good for all. Gilman has provided a crucial understanding on her situation and how she is locked away as if she is insane. It is upon her to prove that she deserves better and refuse to be part of the scheme to underpin and ensure that husband understands her situation and focus on key issues rather than factors which are not aligned on the wellbeing for all(Martin, 2007).

Who is this woman in the wallpaper that the narrator is seeing? There are two answers to this. I want them both. Think in terms of symbolism in this case, which is almost always the case with the Gothic, psychological symbolism), remembering the progression of what she sees in the wallpaper.

The narrator in this case provides two perspective of the woman who is developed by Gilman in the yellow Wallpaper. The first perspective in this case is of a woman who is helps and depressed. She knows that what her husband is doing is wrong but she lacks the voice to speak up since the society has developed women to be inferior to men and thus she is treated as if insane while in real sense she is actually all right. The situation is not favorable based on the status quo and she does not have any way out in her current predicaments rather than let nature take its course without knowing very well that she has a great role to play in changing the status quo. A helpless figure is a representation of a difficult life which women are being exposed to and have no particular on how they can change the situation(Quawas, 2006).

Another perspective that is quite represented in this case regarding the woman is of a woman who is yawning for change. She understands that the current environment, which is male, dominated is not favorable but acknowledges that the situation cannot remain this way forever. She is very much hopeful and optimistic that change will definitely arrive some day and taking about her issues and difficult situations will provide other with a clear understanding on the situation of women in various societies and denounce certain practices, which are considered barbaric. The humble nature of the woman shows that even though she is having issues she not opting to disobedience but seeks to create a better understanding of the situation and allow for better development of important elements that are being considered within the environment.


  1. DAVISON, C. M. (2004). Haunted House/Haunted Heroine: Female Gothic Closets in “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Women’s Studies, 33(1), 47–75.
  2. Martin, D. (2007). Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “The Yellow Wallpaper.” American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(5), 736.
  3. Quawas, R. (2006). ** A New Woman’s Journey Into Insanity: Descent and Return in the Yellow Wallpaper. AUMLA: Journal of the Australasian University of Modern Language Association, (105), 35–53.

Cite this page

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. (2021, Sep 24). Retrieved from

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