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February 1, 2007

Mentally unstable? You could say so.

Gilman, ''The Yellow Wallpaper'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

"You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns a back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples on you. It is like a bad dream."

It is also a lot like the narrator's illness which could be determined as a slight hysterical tendency (nervous depression). She is belittled by her husband on both her illness and her general concerns and thoughts. The narrator believes that she has overcomed or mastered her illness, but then the wall-paper disturbs her and then she is back at the beginning.
I think it is remarkable how wall-paper that is bright and lively could possibly bother her. Maybe because it is soo bright and alive, it reminds her that she is not allowed to be 'alive'. The wall-paper allows for her to try to figure out the pattern (her illness).

The narrator states earlier when she was little she had hallucinations in her bedroom of the knobs, bureau and the plain furniture. The yellow wall-paper is also in a way plain and could possibly bring back memories of her sporadic thoughts and illusions as a child.

Posted by Denamarie at February 1, 2007 11:08 PM

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This is great observation. I didn't even think about the plainess of the wallpaper or her childhood the first time I read this story. It's amazing how reading through a second time can completely change your outlook on a piece.

Posted by: Erin at February 5, 2007 10:44 AM

I never thought to look at it that way. Way to be :) That makes sense considering she kept seeing a woman in the wall paper, thus making the wallpaper even more alive.

Posted by: Sue at February 6, 2007 4:25 PM

Do you think that maybe she was feeling boxed in as well? Thinking about the way Gilman described her feelings from her own depressive state, I would think that maybe that might be another thing the wallpaper represents, a boxing in. Another reason one would get this feeling is that the woman the narrator sees inside the wallpaper seems to be trapped or boxed in as well. Something to think about for sure.

Posted by: Tiffany at February 7, 2007 11:04 PM

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