Many people deal with post-traumatic depression and it can have a huge impact on one’s life. In the short story by Charlotte Perkins Gillman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the main character, as well as the narrator, is an unnamed woman dealing with post-traumatic depression. The exceptionally imaginative protagonist’s metamorphosis is due to her isolated confinement in a room with “yellow wallpaper” in order for her to recover from depression.
This type of treatment is prescribed by her physician and husband, John, whose controlling personality demands the main character to get bed rest in a secluded room and forbid her to participate in any creative activity that would exercise the mind, which affects her ability to express any thoughts through her enjoyment in writing. At one time, the narrator’s exquisite imagination might have found a productive escape through her sporadic writing, but forced to repress her thoughts instead leads to her growth in madness.
The narrator from “The Yellow Wallpaper” is an example of a dynamic character by the change of her mental condition from her oppressed life, the yellow wallpaper, and search for freedom. The narrator’s isolated recovery forced her to repress any thoughts of her own, which contributed to her oppressed life. The narrator disagrees with her husband’s idea of treatment, but kept her mouth shut and vented through her writing, “Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. ” (437).
Her weakness to take responsibility of expressing her own decisions takes control of her deprived mind and stays obedient to her confinement. While she is isolated, her feelings of loneliness, emotional distress, boredom, and irritation cause her mental condition to worsen. The only satisfaction the narrator gets while being confined is her enjoyment in writing, although it is prohibited, she does it anyways in secret. While writing takes her away from her oppressed life at the time, it also benefits her imagination to remain active.
However, due to the narrator’s “imaginative power and abit of story-making”, her husband tells her, “a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies, and that I ought to use my will and good sense to check the tendency, so I try. ” (439). Being forbidden to have an imagination leaves the narrator emotionally distressed and irritated with feelings of oppression, but she ignores her husband’s ideas and occupies her imagination with the yellow wallpaper that surrounds the room, developing some sort of relationship with it that allows her to confess her suppressed feelings.
As the protagonist suffers from her “nervous condition”, the isolated environment causes her to only get worse. Being trapped in the bedroom with yellow wallpaper contributes her emotional distress to become overpowering. The inability to verbally express her feelings of loneliness causes her to write in a more creative way about her relationships with objects in the room, specifically the yellow wallpaper. She begins to write about the yellow wallpaper as if it is suppose to have some sort of significance, in which it does.
In the beginning of the narrator’s isolation, her attention is focused on the details of the yellow wallpaper’s pattern that are “dull enough to confused the eye in following, pronounced enough constantly to irritate and provoke study” (438). The wallpaper’s characteristics become hard to ignore providing the narrator with something to keep her busy, which turns into an obsession. The more she speculates the paper, the more she loses stability, she perceives a sense of communication with the paper to express her repressed feelings.
The main character describes the yellow wallpaper with human characteristics of it “looking” at her with some sort of “influence” on her, which results in the narrator’s obsession for the wallpaper’s pattern, as well as a curiosity of what certain power it has over her. The narrator starts to reveal “a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure that seems to skulk about…” (440). Her obsessive dwelling of the figures in the paper is recognized from, “…Things in the wallpaper that nobody knows but me, or ever will.
Behind the outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day. It is always the same shape, only very numerous. And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I don’t like it a bit…I wish John would take me away from here” (441). Ironically, the woman figure behind the wallpaper exemplifies the narrator’s confinement of her own life, enabling the insane narrator to determine the relationship between herself and the woman in the wallpaper are both searching for freedom.
The narrator’s powerful imagination is the only freedom she has while being isolated. Possibly, her imagination might be her suppressed thoughts that were abstruse due to her irrational behavior. However, the narrator’s perception of herself and the woman in the wallpaper were searching for a way to escape their similar state of confinement. The narrator writes, “And in the very shady spots she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard. And she is all the time trying to climb through. ” (445).
The woman in the paper “trying to climb” through the wallpaper signifies the relationship between the narrator and the woman in the wallpaper’s desperate need to escape. As the narrator has lost total control of her sanity, she peels off the wallpaper, “I got so angry I bit off a little piece at one corner-but it hurt my teeth. Then I peeled off the paper I could reach standing on the floor. ” (446). The narrator’s loss of stability allows her imagination to perceive herself as the woman in the wallpaper.
When she is helping the woman escape from the wallpaper, the narrator is escaping her oppression while peeling away her sanity, and then finding her freedom. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the narrator’s “mental condition” transforms the protagonist into a very different person who is in desperate need of liberation. While her husband’s beliefs of isolating his wife in a room would recover her from depression, her seclusion only made the condition worse.
Her suppressed imagination finally found an escape from the yellow wallpaper, giving the narrator the freedom she has been scrutinizing through the wallpaper. The narrator’s development throughout the story represents her as a dynamic character. The alteration of her mental condition has a lot to do with her oppressed life, the yellow wallpaper, and her deprived freedom. If it were not for the dynamic character’s devotion to writing, her mind would not have had the independence it needed to free her trapped life of insanity.