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In The Yellow Wallpaper the narrator vicariously mirrors her own feelings and places them on the patterns on the wallpaper that covers the walls of her room.
She begins to hallucinate that there is a woman inside. That woman is trapped, desperate to come out of the yellow wallpaper, and in complete despair. This is exactly how the narrator feels as she is left locked in that room, with a severe case of Post Partum depression left untreated.
As she starts to rip appart the yellow wallpaper, she feels that she is liberating the woman, and that she is setting her free. This is her, cathartically, screaming to be freed, herself.
The narrator feels pity for the woman in the wallpaper. At first she was scared by the apparition, but then she felt compassion and the compulsion to free the woman. The narrator spends days and nights starring at the wallpaper and the woman. The woman becomes clearer the more the narrator pays attention to her and fades the more the narrator is surrounded by others. Eventually, the narrator tries to free the woman by meticulously tearing off the wallpaper. She becomes enraged at the woman when she refuses to be set free and so the narrator begins to “creep” around the room in hopes to ambush the woman. This relationship signifies the role of the narrator in society as well as the effects of post partum depression.
The narrator feels different emotions when it comes to the "woman in the wallpaper" that she believes she sees. "The woman in the wallpaper" is also symbolic of the narrator's own mental state at times.
First, the narrator is very curious about the woman she believes she sees in the wallpaper. She begins to observe the wallpaper more and more once she begins "seeing" this "woman." It is apparent, at this point, that she is beginning to have a serious mental breakdown. Her mental state only gets worse, unfortunately.
She also gets rather upset and angry about the woman in the wallpaper. She wants to understand who and what she is and why she is there. She desperately wants to uncover her, which is why she begins tearing away the wallpaper until it becomes a complete obsession for her (the narrator). The "woman in the wallpaper" slowly begins to become more animated in the narrator's mind:
She discovers that the woman in the wallpaper shakes the bars of the front pattern as she tries, unsuccessfully, to climb through them.(eNotes)
As the narrator's mental state diminishes, she starts to become the "woman in the wallpaper." She thinks about committing suicide, but does not do so and instead crawls around the baseboards of the room, carefully crawling over her husband who has come in and who has fainted at the sight of her. (eNotes)
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