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Who is the figure in the wallpaper in "The Yellow Wallpaper"?

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julia.renee | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 30, 2013 at 9:30 PM via web

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Who is the figure in the wallpaper in "The Yellow Wallpaper"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 31, 2013 at 1:54 AM (Answer #1)

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According to the narrator, there are several women behind the wallpaper. Near the end of the story, she peels off all the wallpaper that she can reach, but some of it sticks. While pulling the paper, she notices, "All those strangled heads and bulbous eyes..." Further, the narrator expresses her suicidal tendency, remarking that jumping out of the window would be "admirable exercise," but she does not like the look of the windows--

...there are so many of those creeping women....I wonder if they all come out of that wallpaper as I did?"

While there is an ambiguity about just who is perceived behind the wallpaper, one interpretation is that the narrator perceives repressed women, or various facets of herself as part of her delusions about the wallpaper, which is a visualization of the oppressive conditions in which she is forced to live. The mention of Jane at the end of the story has also been interpreted as her real self in contrast to the envisaged personae behind the wallpaper. 

 

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