Describe the narrator and indicate her attitude towards the story being told.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator seems to be deliberately speaking for the condition of women in the 19th century.  Post partum depression, and mental illness, in general, were elements that were not understood.  Such conditions were seen as character defects, and not a reflection of a neurological predicament.  The narrator seems to be fighting the prevailing wisdom of the time that she "needs rest."  Her demands for activity, such as reading or writing, the fixations on the wall paper, and the invention of the scenario within it as reflective of her own indicate that she seeks to establish voice, her own sense of voice, in a social setting that denies it.  She demonstrates aspects of resistance in trying to convince her husband that she needs to be active and keeping the journal.  When she realizes that in order to placate her husband she must sacrifice writing (own sense of personal expression, indicating how women's voices during the time period were socially subjugated by the institution of marriage), she asserts her voice in the study of the wall paper.  The intricacies of design represents her own sense of wide ranging interest within her voice, the stench of it also reflects her own disdain at the social condition that is more akin to institutionalization and not rehabilitation.  Finally, when she sees the pattern of the woman trapped in the bars, her voice asserts itself by seeing its own predicament in something as inanimate as wallpaper.  Her mad act of tearing the wallpaper down is the narrator attempting to establish some level of voice, of advocacy, of sense of self in a setting that has denied it.  The tone of anger and criticizing are both evident as her voice attempts to be heard.

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The Yellow Wallpaper

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