What is the symbolic meaning of the wallpaper in the story "the yellow wallpaper

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  1. Amy wang profile image58
    Amy wangposted 3 years ago

    What is the symbolic meaning of the wallpaper in the story "the yellow wallpaper " ??

  2. Zelkiiro profile image95
    Zelkiiroposted 3 years ago

    I don't think it means anything on its own--the whole story is about a woman spiraling into madness (as well as being a commentary on the contemporary notion that women are to stay at home) with the wallpaper being her only real source of stimuli. Because she's trapped in that room for so long, she subconsciously associates herself with the people painted in the wallpaper, because, y'know, crazy. It's probably a statement on how people left in isolation for so long will latch onto any source of escapism to retreat from their own madness.

    The important part of the story isn't that the wallpaper is yellow--it really could have been any color--but the author probably wanted something extremely garish and obvious for the main character to focus on, and hideously bright wallpaper seemed like a logical choice.

  3. Amy wang profile image58
    Amy wangposted 3 years ago

    Isn't the wallpaper a symbol of social expectation and patriarchal ideology? Moreover, wasn't the hallucination she had, which was seeing a woman behind the wallpaper, an inner psychological projection of her ??

  4. Aime F profile image85
    Aime Fposted 3 years ago

    It's been years since I read this, but from what I recall, it represents society's expectations/treatment of women.

    Her obsession with the wallpaper grows as her husband refuses to let her write, see anyone, or go anywhere else. She starts to destroy the wallpaper because she doesn't know how to destroy the social constructs.

    I think I remember her continually trying to find a pattern but saying that there was none, that it was just ugly and non-sensical. I think this is commentary on why women were treated as second class citizens - was there any good reason? Any pattern that suggested it made sense? No.

    She eventually finds that at night, when any sort of light shines on the wall (enlightenment/being able to see it for it what it is separate from everything else surrounding it) it looks like bars. This suggests that when you actually shine a light on the wallpaper (focus solely on society's expectations of women) you can see it for what it is: a prison.

    By the end of the story it drives her quite mad and she becomes the woman in the wallpaper. She wants so badly to get out but she can't recognize that the wallpaper symbolizes something in her own life. At the end she says something incredibly insightful and so on point but you know she doesn't realize why it's so true and it's heartbreaking - something about her husband being in her way of escape and having to creep over him every time she wants out.

    Great story. smile


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