In "The Yellow Wallpaper," what's the narrator's initial reaction and description of the wallpaper?

1 Answer | Add Yours

accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

It is clear that the narrator of this excellent short story does not like the wallpaper that is in the room where she is forced to recuperate and rest at first. She describes the pattern as "committing every artistic sin," for example and then also characterises the colour as "repellant" in the way that it is a "smouldering unclean yellow." However, perhaps the most interesting description of the paper is shown in the following paragraph:

It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide--plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard-of contradictions.

The personification of the wallpaper as representing people who are committing suicide and "plunging" off at "outrageous angles" and "destroying themselves" represent the most disturbing description of the wallpaper. In a sense, this description could be said to foreshadow the fascination that the narrator has with the wallpaper and the way that she comes to commit a form of mental suicide by the end of the tale.

Sources:

We’ve answered 318,944 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question