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How do I approach writing a response on "The Yellow Wallpaper?" 

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CyndiC55 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 19, 2013 at 4:44 AM via web

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How do I approach writing a response on "The Yellow Wallpaper?" 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 19, 2013 at 4:27 PM (Answer #1)

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Consider some of the themes. For example, look at how the role of woman is presented here in this 19th century story. The woman narrator is perhaps suffering from postpartum depression and yet she craves to be active and engaged with others; this suggests that she is ready to get back to being active and engaging. However, her husband denies her this and intends to keep her resting and not doing anything creative, such as writing. John, the husband, even treats her like a child at times, calling her "little girl." This shows how the male/female relationships and gender roles were at this time; and traces of that exist today in certain societies. The man makes the decisions while the woman stays at home. The man takes charge and has the final say, even in the woman's life. The narrator essentially becomes imprisoned in the room with the yellow wallpaper and this imprisonment leads to a mental breakdown. She is first trapped in the outdated role of submissive, protected woman and then she is literally trapped in the room, until she becomes mentally unstable. She begins to transfer her feelings onto an imaginary woman in the walls, also trying to free herself from her own prison: 

Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over. 

The narrator then begins to imagine seeing the woman from the wallpaper in other places. She dreams of the woman escaping as she herself dreams of escaping her expected role and her literal imprisonment. 

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