The Yellow Wallpaper Questions and Answers
by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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The Yellow Wallpaper Ending

What happened at the end the story? What happened to John? Are the narrator and Charlotte Perkins Gilman the same?

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kwaters3 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the end of this short story several things have occured. The "woman in the wallpaper" has escaped, as the narrator has ripped her free. The narrator then proceeds to crawl around the edge of the room against the wall, John breaks into the room and passes out from the sight of his wife, and then the narrator continues to crawl around the wall over John when she reaches him each time. Many people have compared the narrator to Gilman herself. Many things support this claim. There are her personal asylum writings, the fact that they both suffered from postnatal peruperal psychosis (post-partum depression), and that they both had husbands who surpressed what was really happening in their bodies. It might also be worth noting that Gilman divorced her husband to live single for many years and persue her writing. While married (and this mirrors the short story as well in the narrator and her husband) she was not allowed to write, under doctor's orders, since they thought that intellectual stimulation was furthering the illnesses. However, given the time period for both the story and Gilman's life, it cannot be seen as an anti-feminist action on the parts of the husbands. Science was not yet advanced enough to recognize the causes of post-partum depression. Everything has to be seen by the point of view of the time.

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terafrayne eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Yes, the narrator creeps over John, who passes out, but the ending can also be understood on a figurative level. It is clear, through reading the narrators entries, that she is suffering from a psychological imprisonment that is brought about by her husband's dominance--not a physical condition. The literal reading of the story depicts a woman slowly losing her mind. What makes it more painful to watch, however, is to see that no one is willing to admit the real cause of the narrator's downward spiral. It's caused by the degrading treatment of woman in the 19th century. John's wife is a pretty fixture, a doll, and no one takes her seriously. What happens to the narrator at the end of the story? She breaks out of the figurative cage that is the degrading treatment of women in 19th century America.

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Kristy Wooten eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At the end of the story, the narrator creeps around the baseboards of the floor in the room where she has been confined.  Her husband, John, walks in and promptly passes out, so she remarks that she simply crept right over him as she went around the room.  It is a very eerie ending! 

The narrator and Gilman has very similar experiences, but we cannot assume tha the narrator and the author are one-in-the-same.  Sometimes the narrator closely resembles the author and sometimes not.  In this case, Gilman did, in fact, get treatment for mental illness that was simliar to the narrator's treatment, so this story is based on many truths.


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roopz10 | Student

The narrator and charlotte perkins gilman are almost the same as they both have undergone the same experiences. Yet, in the narrators case she was being dominated by her husband so much so ,  that though she realised  something was not right (though she was in denial) she knew that congenial work would do her good. The same story applies to Charlotte yet she was sharp enough to not only realize that the method of resting wasnt working but also to break free from her post-partum depression.  Yet after charlotte did so, she quoted that ' I am now forever crippled'.

 Charlotte used to stay locked in her room during her time of restand she  used to crawl under her bed clutching her rag doll in probable act of fear or more likely ostracized from society brought her to such a level of depression . This act of crawling under her bed is what inspired her to create the Yellow Wallpaper.

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schackmonster | Student

The women starts seeing another women caught in the wallpaper who tries to come out. The women outside the wallpaper get crazy as the story goes along and eventually the women in the wallpaper breaks out and the other gets caught inside. When her husbands arrives he sees that his wife has lost her mind a nd i crawling on the floor. He faints and lands just by the wall so that every time the women crawls around the wall she has to crawl over him..

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linaandersson | Student

During the story, the woman becomes more and more obsessed with the wallpaper, and as time goes by she gets convinced that there actually is a woman in there. The narrator forces herself to rip off the wallpaper, and she says that the woman inside helps her. At the end, she is so occupied with the wallpaper, that she thinks that she herself came out of it. Just like the women she sees outside the windows, she starts creeping around in the room, along the wall. What happens at the end is that John enters the room, and sees his wife creeping on the floor. I guess he gets really frightened by the sight, and therefore he faints.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the writer of The Yellow Wallpaper, also suffered from a mental illness. I don’t think the narrator and Charlotte Perkins Gilman are the same, though. Maybe she based the character on herself in some parts of the story. Two of the similarities are that neither the narrator nor the writer were allowed to write during their illnesses, and their recommended treatments were about the same, but I don’t think that the writer had the same experience as the narrator, I think it’s all made up.

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stephmadden | Student

Charlotte Perkins Gilman is projecting an image of how she used to be. They were both suffering from very serious mental illnesses only Charlotte managed to take control of herself and thereby in a way cured herself. The narrator on the other hand, was controlled by her husband who did not give her the freedom that she needed to cure herself.

In the beginning of the story the narrator has two personality's, as you continue in the story the "mental" side of her takes over the very last "normal" part she had in her. But it is already too late when John realises this. Maybe he just didn't want to see what was going on or maybe he just really didn't see it, however when the narrator has locked herself into her room, it is too late to get her any kind of help.

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