Identify a conflict central to the story. Discuss how that conflict affects the characters and is it resolved by the end of the story?

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pirateteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"The Yellow Wallpaper" details an unnamed woman's decent into madness after the birth of her child.  Today, we would diagnois her as having post-partum depression, but at the time of the piece,1892, the cause was more unknown. Worried about her health, her husband has her see a doctor, and takes her away for a vacation.  The doctor's diagnosis is that she should be kept from any strenuous activities: reading, writing, and seeing her own baby. These restrictions show the harsh social confines of the time, and so instead of making her feel better, she only gets worse.  Our narrator wants to get out of the room, believing it would do her good, but like so many women of the time, her opinion, even about her own health, does not matter.

"The Yellow Wallpaper" is her thoughts, and stops for two weeks when her husband notices her writing.  She knows that John an his sister do not want her to write, so she tries to obey, but it is her only outlet.

I verily believe she thinks it is the writing which made me sick!

Her husband laughs at her complaints about the wallpaper and her desires to get out and about.  The more she examines the wallpaper, the more things she begins to see in it.  At first, she sees eyes in the paper, but then she begins to realize that a women in trapped in the paper and the designs are bars keeping the woman in.  She tells her husband she is getting worse, but again he refuses to listen.

In her final madness, she decides to "free" the woman in the wallpaper and begins ripping the paper off the wall.  When she can't get the last bit off the wall she begins pacing the room- in short becoming the caged woman in the wallpaper.  When her husband finds her, he faints.  To this, the narrator just laughs as she steps over him and continues pacing.

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

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The Yellow Wallpaper

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