The Yellow Wallpaper Questions and Answers
by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper book cover
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In "The Yellow Wallpaper," how does the wallpaper function and evolve as a symbol?

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At first, the narrator seems to view the wallpaper as a symbol of her own restrictions and confinement in the room, even if unconsciously. She seems to want to trust her husband, but "he does not believe [she is] sick!" Further, he has "assure[d] friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with [her] but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency [...]." He wants her to ignore the wallpaper, but she "get[s] unreasonably angry with [him] sometimes." Likewise, she gets angry at the paper, too. She says,

There is a recurrent spot where the. pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down. I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness. Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd, unblinking eyes are everywhere.

Unable to express her anger at her husband's confinement of her, as well as the social restrictions he places on her and his insistence that she rest completely and never work, the...

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