The short story that I have chosen is “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The narrator is a woman diagnosed with hysteria by her husband after giving birth to a baby. She does not interact with others and is forced to stay in her room to rest under her husband’s orders. Her child is watched over by the nanny and her husband’s sister since the wife’s condition is unstable.
The husband dismisses her thoughts and opinions about the treatment, leaving the wife submissive to his orders. The husband is known to be a reputable physician so the wife does not question him but questions herself instead. The woman secretly writes in a journal to express herself since her husband belittles her ridiculous opinions. The story begins with the couple staying at a beautiful mansion for a summer vacation. The husband brings his wife to the home in hopes of clearing her mind and getting rid of her sickness. He makes her take medications daily to boost the healing process but believes it is up to the wife to fully heal on her own. Ignoring her wishes to have a room by the garden, the husband chooses an old nursery for his wife to stay in.
The wife immediately becomes distracted by the wallpaper and obsesses about its uneven design. She is constantly revolted by the walls to the point that it is all she can think about. Her husband believes she is doing better and brushes off her anxiousness. The woman quits anticipating her husband to help and continues to focus more on the menacing wallpaper.
As time goes on, the isolation starts to creep up on the narrator. Little details that were unnoticed before were now visible to her. She starts seeing a figure of a woman trying to escape the wall.
Staring at the wallpaper is no longer a chore as she lets her imagination take over her thoughts. She soon interprets herself as the woman in the wallpaper, trapped and alone. The woman thoughts are no longer clouded as she realizes her husband’s motives.
The narrator also becomes conscious of her husband and his sister’s suspicion of her obsession so she destroys the wallpaper. She sees the woman in the wallpaper as herself, having the desire to be free. Tearing back the paper is her way of letting the trapped woman escape and also herself. The narrator lingers in the room as she had just finished destroying the wall. Her husband then enters, not knowing what to expect and immediately faints at the sight of his wife being fully cured.