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The Psychology of the Yellow Wallpaper

Updated on March 9, 2018

Comparing the author, the protagonist and their struggles.

After Charlotte Gilman gave birth to her child she was depressed after her pregnancy and in the story the narrator is unable to take care of child and she eventually fell into emotional depression.The comparisons are very similar so I believe that Charlotte definitely used her struggles and made the narrator deal with a little bit of what she went through. The character experiences different emotions and goes through triumphs and tribulations within herself.

John and his wife, who narrates the story moved to the country to deal with her illness. She is unable to care for her child so assumption wise I would say she exemplifies the mental illness, postpartum depression or dealing with a similar psychological disorder. Overall she is dealing with a lot inside her self. The Yellow Wallpaper represents symbolism because the narrator starts to see herself in the wallpaper and she ends up becoming the tragic hero of the story.

Lets talk about the Wallpaper....

The symbolism represented by the yellow wallpaper is one of the most important things about the story. The narrator's tearing down of the wallpaper in an attempt to find the "woman" in the wallpaper represents her struggle to retain or regain her sanity. She sees figures in the wallpaper, and begins to think about all of the other women who are imprisoned just as she is. The narrator begins to question herself and how many others there are who feel the same way. She further opens her mind to the amount of people who must be restrained by their husband, and this only adds to her insanity.

The wallpaper has been part of her confinement and by her tearing it down, she is freeing herself from that confinement. That is so important because it seems that she is aware of her mental illness and she wants to fight and be at peace with herself. From a psychological perspective the narrator struggles with herself; inside and out and when she tears the wallpaper in order to free the trapped woman in the wallpaper whom she sees struggling from inside the pattern she feels free.

"she is not allowed to see anyone who might stimulate her mind, her imagination or her feelings." I found this quote from my citation and it proves the scrutiny she was under as a women and society but also someone who struggles with mental illness.

Overall, the wallpaper represents the oppressive structure of the society she was living in and the horror she was living in within herself and in reality with her husband.

Does her husband John make her condition worse?

Through out the story the narrators husband John seems to make her condition worse rathe than better. He kept her isolated and didn't believe that anything was really wrong with her. John would lock her up in one room and take her away from society. Instead of working with her towards getting better, he isolated her as if she just needed to be alone in order to get better.The narrator felt trapped underneath her husband's care because he did not treat her as if she was a patient with a mental problem, and he refused to give her any real diagnosis or treatment.

Using the psychological lens, I believe that her being alone was definitely one of the problems, the more she was isolated the more she felt empty inside. The narrators imagination ran wild through out the story and when she was isolated she seemed to drive herself insane and the one person who she was forced to rely on, was not there for her. Women in that time period were forced to depend on men because they were never allowed to do anything themselves. I believe the narrator needed to take control of her life and her mental illness and try to get better instead of having her husband tell her that it was all in her head and that she was not sick.

"Since God and nature made women submissive, chaste and nurturing, any deviance from these qualities can only be interpreted as a sign that she has been driven out of her "true" nature and and taken possession by some wicked spirit"... Not only does she feel confined by her illness and her husband but she also feels confined by society and that would drive anyone insane.

In conclusion...

Overall I believe the moral of the story is to show the strength of a woman and through her obstacles of mental illness and how she may have felt insane from the people around her it really shows how impactful the character and the story was and still is. The whole story shows how women were made to feel submissive and small by men and how they were basically nothing without them. I believe the story depicts the reality of the societal norms of women in that century.

Works Cited

King J, Morris P. ON NOT READING BETWEEN THE LINES: MODELS OF READING IN 'THE YELLOW WALLPAPER'. Studies In Short Fiction [serial online]. Winter89 1989;26(1):22. Available from: Academic Search Premier, Ipswich, MA. Accessed March 5, 2018.


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    • dominik rivera profile image

      dominik rivera 

      8 months ago



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