The Yellow Wallpaper Questions and Answers
by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper book cover
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In "The Yellow Wallpaper," from what ailment might the narrator suffer? How does the narrator use personification?

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sagetrieb eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The narrator’s use of personification indicates her depressed state of mind. For example, in describing the wall paper, she says the pattern “curves for a little distance [and then] they suddenly commit suicide…destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions.” This personification suggests that she fears harming herself, and projects those fears onto the wall paper. In a similar way, she later calls the flowers in the garden “riotous,” which is what she feels mentally, wanting to break all the rules and leave this awful room.  A third example of personification occurs when she describes the wall paper as having a pattern that “loss like a broken neck” with “two bulbous eyes that stare at you upside down.”

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renelane eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The narrator most likely suffers from postpartum depression after giving birth. The treatment for a woman exhibiting symptoms such as depression, malaise, weeping, or lethargy was complete and total bed rest.

The baby was typically cared for by someone other than the new mother. The new mother does not have any interactions with the baby during her rest cure. Women suffering from this type of condition were meant to lie around all day merely resting, not reading, writing, or thinking. The idea was to remove all physical and mental activity. The thinking at the time was such stimulation aggravated the condition.

Treatment for postpartum depression today is much different. Women are not isolated and encouraged to be idle. Physical activity, drug therapy, and reflection are thought to be beneficial to today's new mothers with postpartum depression.  

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etak611 | Student

The unnamed narrator suffers from hysteria

cyilmaz | Student

The young mother is most likely suffering from a depressed state after having her baby.  Men of those days felt that women should be restricted to the home and were not allowed to partake in work and writings.  The young mother was not allowed to take care of her baby because may have given her more pleasure than her repressive doctor and husband wanted her to have.  The wallpaper is a personification of the mother's convuluted mind.  The color of yellow symbolizes a sickening feeling of depression, blandness and nausea.