How does her description of the wallpaper change? How does the changing description of the wallpaper reflect the narrator's changing character?

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At first, the narrator is extremely critical of the wallpaper. She declares that she has never seen "worse paper" anywhere and that the pattern on the paper commits "every artistic sin," being both dull and irritating at the same time, filled with "unheart-of contradictions". She also finds the color itself...

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At first, the narrator is extremely critical of the wallpaper. She declares that she has never seen "worse paper" anywhere and that the pattern on the paper commits "every artistic sin," being both dull and irritating at the same time, filled with "unheart-of contradictions". She also finds the color itself to be "repellant."

All of this is related in very matter of fact and concise fashion, reflecting the state of mind of the narrator at the beginning of the story: she is analytical and self-aware, resents the controlling influence of her husband and her brother, and does not want to be confined in a room with such hideous wallpaper.

As time passes, the narrator becomes fond of the room, but the paper remains "horrid" to her. She is, however, increasingly intrigued and preoccupied by it. As her mind begins to fracture, the pattern on the paper becomes an obsession which she believes to be "as good as gymnastics". She is seeking a "conclusion" in the paper; this reminds us of her earlier statement that she feels she would prefer to have something to occupy her mind rather than the rest her husband has insisted on. At the same time, her struggle to identify some sort of conclusion within the sprawling pattern leaves her feeling "tired," as if this is an impossible goal.

Later, we see that some kind of conclusion has been reached—and it is not a conclusion the narrator enjoys. She begins to see a woman "creeping about behind that pattern," and her reaction to this is to wish that her husband would take her away from the house. Even as the narrator begins to feel more and more trapped, the image of the woman trapped in the pattern, too, becomes more and more real to her, until she begins to believe that she is moving.

By the time the story reaches its ultimate conclusion, this trapped woman, a representation of the narrator's confined self, has become more real to her than anything else. The two women seem to fuse; the narrator declares that she has "got out at last" and has "pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!" She begins to creep around and around the room herself. In her struggle to dismantle what she saw as a manifestation of her entrapment, the narrator has trapped herself further within her own diseased mind.

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In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story “The Yellow WallPaper,” published in 1892, the narrator's description of the wallpaper changes as she descends into madness. At the story’s beginning, we learn that the narrator’s husband, a doctor, has said she has “a slight hysterical tendency.” This was a common diagnosis for women during the story’s time period. However, the fact that the narrator has recently had a baby points to a likely diagnosis of postpartum depression.

As the story progresses, we see that the narrator’s husband has complete control over her. She is not allowed to write or express her thoughts. She was brought to the country to heal but, instead, grows continually worse. At first, her observation of the wallpaper in the new house is that it is “horrid paper.” It is “dull enough to confuse the eyes,” and “the color is repellant, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight.” Interestingly, the wallpaper’s color is important to the story, as the color yellow is associated with madness.

By the story’s middle, the narrator has slipped deep enough into mental illness that she begins to see a “strange, provoking, formless sort of figure” in the paper’s patterns. As her obsession with the paper continues, she eventually thinks that there is a woman behind the paper that “creeps” about at night. She becomes obsessed with the paper, choosing to sleep by day and remain awake at night just so she can watch it. By the story's end, the narrator is convinced that she, herself, came out of the paper and that she is the creeping woman. Whereas before, she said that she would never “creep” about where her husband could see her, in the story’s last few paragraphs, we find her creeping around the room after pulling off the wallpaper and locking herself inside. So, just as the narrator went from having an ominous feeling of dislike toward the wallpaper to hallucinating women coming out of it, her mind moved from depression to complete madness.

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The story "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a tale about mental and physical oppression. This oppression comes as a result of a woman's personal struggle with what her peers call "nervous prostration", but what the modern reader can certainly categorize as post partum depression.

These poignant words are muttered by the narrator, who is also the main character:

I really have discovered something at last.

Through watching so much at night, when it changes so, I have finally found out.

The front pattern does move -- and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it!

 

Our main is taken into an isolated house where she is deprived of all the things that provide her with a mode of escapism: She cannot write, nor communicate openly. She is simply left to "rest" in a room under the assumption idea that, with the least amount of stimulation, the depression will somehow get better.

However, the opposite happens. The woman gets fixated on the yellow wallpaper that decorates the walls of the room and it is then when she begins to assume that there is a woman trapped inside of the wallpaper, much like she is, trapped into the current situation.

It is for this reason that she channels her ordeal through the yellow wallpaper and is determined to liberate the woman inside by tearing down the paper. This moment of psychosis, however, is allegorical to the chaos that she experiences inside her mind and soul.

 

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