Discussion Topic

Meaningful and interesting quotes from "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Summary:

Meaningful and interesting quotes from "The Yellow Wallpaper" include: "I sometimes fancy that in my condition, if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus," reflecting the narrator's desire for freedom and social interaction, and "I've got out at last... And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!" symbolizing her ultimate break from oppression.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What are three meaningful quotes from "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman?

A gothic story of the tortuous efforts of a woman to resolve the disturbed musings of her mind, "The Yellow Wallpaper" transports the reader into realms of both depression and repression.  Forced into bed rest and forbidden to engage in any activity until she is considered well again as she suffers from post-partum depression, the narrator of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story feel helpless against the patriarchal forces of both her husband and the doctor.  Intuitively, she knows what is good for her, but she has to be "sly" about it or she meets with opposition:

I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus--but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad.

Indeed, it is this very repression that drives Gilman's narrator into the obsessive musings about the hideous yellow wallpaper that covers the interior of the room to which she is confined.  She describes it as

One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin.

It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough constantly to 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.

Clearly, this tainted wallpaper becomes for the narrator a tangible representation of her tortuous, repressed confinement in which she finds herself. In the efforts of the woman to free herself from her oppression by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell represented by "a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure" as a "debased Romanesque" she envisions the wallpaper reaching the grotesque: 

All those strangled heads and bulbous eyes and waddling fungus growth just shriek with derision!"

Finally, in her desperate effort to release herself and conquer her mental and emotional imprisonment, the woman tears down the wallpaper to free the woman--herself--behind it, crawling along the floor from wall to wall. 

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Which three quotations from "The Yellow Wallpaper" interest you and why?

I particularly like this story because it is so strange and intriguing.  It is difficult to choose just a few quotes that are interesting, since there are so many, but I did the best I could.

And she is all the time trying to climb through.  But nobody could climb through that pattern -- it strangles so...

To me, this passage seems to be symbolic of the narrator's attempts to overcome her mental illness and her inability to do so.  In describing the pattern as being strangling, the woman indicates that it has a great deal of malignant power over her.  By saying that "nobody could climb through that pattern," she also suggests a feeling of hopelessness.  Her view of the pattern and its characteristics reveals a great deal about her own mental health and its deterioration.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Which three quotations from "The Yellow Wallpaper" interest you and why?

I like the second to last line of Gilman's, "The Yellow Wallpaper," because it demonstrates that the speaker has become, in her mind anyway, the woman in the wall.

"I've got out at last," said I, "in spite of you and Jane.  And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!"

The woman, of course, is still in the room.  She's been made to stay there against her will by people who misunderstand her and her illness and women, in general.  She has not escaped.  But she has come to identify so strongly and obsessively with the woman she "sees" trapped in the wallpaper, that when she tears down most of the wallpaper, she feels that she, herself, has been released. 

She feels free, even though she is still confined.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on