Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”

What I found interesting is the way that the narrator’s husband coddles her and treats her more like an infant than anything. The bedroom he even has her take is a nursery. She is hardly allowed to do anything besides eat, breathe and sleep.  She makes an effort to point this out as often as possible but she doesn’t do it with a tone of malice until the end where she begins to completely go insane. Pretty much every other line the narrator is talking about something that her husband, John, won’t let her do.

To be honest I don’t quite understand the ending. Is the narrator really free and liberated? Is her mind free or has her “condition” been freed from inside herself for her husband to observe? But why did her husband faint?

via Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”.

5 thoughts on “Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper””

  1. She mentions tying herself up with a rope to escape the crawler. This is typically taken as she has hung herself, that’s why her husband has to break down the door and faints when he finally sees her. Not necessarily the real ending, but how I’ve always interpreted it.

    1. That makes a lot more sense! When I read the ending I had just pictured her creeping around the room and her husband passing out when he saw her and that just made absolutely no sense to me. Thank you!

  2. The ending did confuse me as well. I saw her as still creeping around the room. I didn’t really get the suicide vibe, though, because of the end: “Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!” she was stepping over him each time she went around the room.
    I interpreted it as, the husband was trying to do everything to keep her sane, and by isolating her and coddling her, he inadvertently pushed her to insanity.

  3. That’s a good point, in class we established that if she had committed suicide then how would she have finished her writing? and why would it say that she is “creeping” around the room? So we know that she never committed suicide. Perhaps he fainted because he was shocked by how truly insane she is and that was the first time he was really able to observe that.

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