What is the significance of the ending of "The Yellow Wallpaper" with the husband's response as reflective of his actions throughout the story?

Expert Answers

Want to remove ads?

Get ad-free questions with an eNotes 48-hour free trial.

Try It Free No Thanks
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!

"That man" has ordered his wife, his "darling," for his sake and that of his children--and even what he thinks is her sake--not to allow the idea of her feeling ill mentally to be entertained in her consciousness for "one instant"; "that man" has forced his wife to be in a hideous room, alone and alienated from others, even her own child; "that man" has denied his wife the opportunities of the aesthetic as she cannot walk in the garden or write. "That man," who has patronizingly called her his "blessed little goose," has imprisoned his wife to stare at horrible yellow wallpaper whose color and lack of symmetry in its design offends her artistic nature. "That man" has made his wife a prisoner in a summer home, refusing her requests because she must exert "self-control." "That man" has trapped his wife in her insanity.

When she finally hallucinates, believing that she perceives a woman trapped behind the bars of the hideous wallpaper, the wife feels that she must free this woman. She tears at the "bars" of the wallpaper to free herself. But, then, she imagines, "I wonder if they all come out of that wallpaper as I did?"  When her husband finds the key that she has tossed away, he enters, shocked at seeing her crawling along the floor, even though he has ignored all the warning signs of her depression.

"For God's sake, what are you doing?" he asks his wife.

"I've got out at last...in spite of you and Jane."

And, she "creep[s] over him every time!" as she passes along the wall after her husband has fainted.

Until he faints, the husband still believes that he can control his wife and the situation of what he believes to be a simple "nervous condition," never recognizing the desperation of her illness until she is seduced by her insanity, never realizing that he himself has pushed her to this state of mental illness.

Read the study guide:
The Yellow Wallpaper

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question