“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman reflects the struggle women had during the late 1800’s. It’s a story that shows us the mind and emotions of a woman suffering a slow mental breakdown – a breakdown paradoxically caused by attempts to restore her mental health. As the story unfolds, we see the reasons for her insanity connects to her husband, John. Although her madness may be to blame because of her medical condition. Her husband is to blame in aspects of his strong role of the dominant male hierarchy of a husband over his wife. By removing all traces of responsibility and self-determination from his wife, he sets up her downfall.
Upon arriving at the house we can already see she has an uneasy frame of mind. We see this by her first perception of the house as seemingly “haunted” but she soon after realize this as unreasonable when she acknowledges that the vacancy is due not to the supernatural but the financial difficulties of the owners. So she starts off the story mostly sane with some sense. Her first impression of the wallpaper is that it is “one of those sprawling, flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin.” Further, she describes that pattern as full of “lame uncertain curves” and the color as “repellant”. These are the judgments of an artistically sensitive mind judging the paper on its details and simple observations.
After two weeks of the “rest” treatment, however, both her mind and descriptions of the wallpaper have become getting stranger. The first sign of her paranoia appears in her admission that she must hide her writing from her sister-in-law. She also begins to suspect that the paper now characterized as having a “vicious influence”, full of “unblinking eyes” is causing her illness. The first evidence that her mind has seized on the wallpaper as a creative outlet appears in her perception of a “sub-pattern” masking a skulking, “formless sort of figure.”
After a bit more time in the house, she confesses that she spends much of her time alone crying and that the wallpaper “dwells” on her mind. The only sign we see that her mind is not completely gone appears in her judgment that the pattern is not “arranged on any laws of radiation” but this is quickly swept aside by her perception of a point of radiation where the “interminable grotesque” seems to form a focal point.
As her mind continues it’s what slow but steady descent into madness seems certain clues, recorded in the journal as simple observations reveal the worrying state of her mind. She states that there are things in the paper that “nobody knows about but me, or ever will.” Along with, the moonlight “creeps” into the room at night and reveals the women creeping in the sub-pattern. Most horrifying, she continues to have moments of lucidity when she recognizes her own worsening situation as when she begins to suggest to her physician/husband that her mind may be compromised: “Better in body perhaps-” she begins only to be cut off.
During this time period the color, formerly simply “repellant” has become a living thing, like: “old, foul, bad yellow things.” It begins to affect not just her sense of sight but also smell. She comes to suspect both her husband and Jennie of interest in the wallpaper and her paranoia rises to the forefront of her entries with statements such as “I am determined that nobody shall find it out but myself,” “It does not do to trust people too much,” and calling her sister-in-law a “sly thing” for trying to keep her company in the room. During the story she increasingly identifies herself with the creeping woman in the sub-pattern trapped behind the pattern which has now assumed the aspect of a “cage” that undulates with the movements of the women trapped inside. The narrator explains why she does all her own “creeping” in the daytime and, toward the end of the story, wonders matter-of-factly if all the creeping women she sees outside the windows all came “out of the