The Yellow Wallpaper Questions and Answers
by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper book cover
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Please give the summary of "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

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This excellent short story explores in the short story form a woman's experience of post-natal depression and highlights many of the practices that were actually adopted by doctors to "help" such patients, but only served to make their depression worse. This story was based on the author's own experience of depression, and as such it has a vitality and truth to it that gives it real significance.

The story is based around a first person narrative of a woman suffering depression after her child's birth. Supposedly for her own good, her husband, who is presented as a loving and caring man, says she must stay in bed in a room which is notable for its bizarre yellow wallpaper that the narrator, having nothing else to do, spends a lot of time looking at, trying to trace and work out the pattern. As the story progresses and the narrator descends ever further into madness, she begins to think she can see a woman trapped behind the first layer of the wallpaper and trying to get out. She is described as shaking the lines of the pattern as if they were bars on a cage. Finally, the story reaches its climax when the narrator tries to free this woman by ripping down the wallpaper, and begins to walk around the edge of the room herself, as if she has so completely identified with the woman that she is now trapped there too. Note how this represents her descent into lunacy, but also how she identifies herself with her alter-ego that she has created: both women are frustrated and trapped: intellectually, emotionally, psychologically and physically.

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melissa1106 | Student

This story is about a couple who move to a new house. The physician husband believes her wife is crazy so he locks her in her bedroom and doesnt let her out. She slowly goes insane and starts to see things such as bars in the wallpaper. She also sees women in the wallpaper and thinks she is one. When the time comes to leave she does not want to go and she is still insane.

jigglemesilly | Student

It is about an unnamed narrator, believed to be written in regards to Charlotte Perkins Gilmans own experience with depression.  In the short story, the narrator is a newly wed suffering from post pardom depression and had just moved into this apartment where there were going to live in for 3 weeks.  Her husband, a phsycian, puts her on the rest treatment, to be completely isolated in a room with no interaction.  While in her treatment she is placed in this "nursery" with unpleasant wallpaper. Throughout the story she describes hating the way it looks, smells, and eventually she describes how she sees a woman behind the wallpaper trying to get out. She eventually identifies the woman as herself. On the last day of being in the house she tears down the wallpaper and is now satisfied that the woman behind the wallpaper is no longer trapped.