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The Need for Self-Expression

The narrative structure of “The Yellow Wallpaper” expresses one of the major tensions in the short story: the conflict between the narrator’s desire to express herself and her inability to actually do so. Her imaginative sensibility and her desire to write expressively (what she describes as “work”) are both at odds with her husband’s expectations for her behavior. John is unable to grasp the importance of her writing, just as he fails to understand the narrator’s complex inner life. Instead, he believes that her penchant for creativity is the root cause of her illness. The narrator’s journal entries indicate otherwise; she initially believes that writing would improve her mental state. It is only after being forced to hide her writing from everyone around her that the process of writing itself becomes burdensome and tiring.

Rather than confront John openly with her wishes, the narrator...

(The entire section is 296 words.)