Jane’s Depression in the Yellow Wallpaper

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Jane’s Depression in the Yellow Wallpaper

This essay will analyze the depiction of Jane’s depression in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” It will discuss how the story portrays mental illness and societal attitudes towards women’s health during the 19th century. The piece will explore the symbolic use of the wallpaper and the narrative’s critique of medical treatment for women. Moreover, at PapersOwl, there are additional free essay samples connected to Depression.

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The Yellow Wallpaper is written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This story is about a young woman by the name of Jane who is a wife, trapped in a room. Jane suffers from depression following the birth of her child. Her husband, John, diagnoses her behavior as melancholia. He prescribes her rest and leases a house in the country for her rehabilitation. John is a respected physician, so Jane initially needs his advice. He does not let her write, which is her only creative outlet, and she does not visit the baby.

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John is always gone from the house, and Jane is often too tired to write and too nervous to see their child, who is cared for by a nanny.

Jane in the Yellow Wallpaper

Everyday she spends all day sitting in bed staring at the room’s yellow wallpaper. John laughs at her requests to repaper their bedroom or relocate to another one. He believes it is hurtful to her health to entertain her fancies, and he discourages her from engaging her imagination in any way. Despite John’s advice and her personal resolution, Jane personifies the wallpaper as malicious and watchful. She begins to sees the shape of a figure hidden behind the wallpaper’s decorative design. Her thoughts are disordered, and she spends hours watching over the wallpaper, in which she now frequently sees the figure of a creeping woman behind the pattern. After John sees her getting up at night to check whether the figure in the wallpaper is moving, she asks him to take her away. (Gilman ) He refuses, arrogant dismissing her and instructing her not to think about her mental well-being.

Jane is more distinctly perceived that the figure of a woman behind the bars of the pattern who moves at night and stays still during the day. Jane lies to John about sleeping so that she can spend time alone in their room. She believes that John and his sister, Jennie, are also trying to figure out the mystery of the wallpaper. Her suspicions increase after Jennie discovers yellow smudges on her and John’s clothes.

Jane’s obsession with the yellow wallpaper restores her energy. She discovers new characteristics of the wallpaper: the yellow smell that pervades every room of the house; the strange smudge on the paper along the bottom of the walls; and the movement of its pattern, with the creeping woman shaking the front and trying to climb through (Gilman). Jane sees the woman from the wallpaper creeping outside in the garden, and describes her own creeping in the bedroom. She tries to remove the front pattern from the wallpaper and grows increasingly suspicious of John and Jennie.

As a result, her condition quickly deteriorates. She starts to see a woman inside the wallpaper and believes the woman is struggling to break free. In effort to release the woman, Jane tears down the wallpaper. She has spent the entirety of the previous night tearing down the wallpaper to free the woman trapped in it. Unable to move the bed, she bites it in frustration, and as she tears down the room’s wallpaper, she refers to herself as the trapped woman. Outside her window in the garden, she sees many other creeping women and expresses her preference for her room and its wallpaper, revealing that her own creeping has formed the smudge around the room. John returns to the house, discovers Jane’s behavior. She continues around the room, creeping over him every time! (Gilman). When John comes to take Jane home, he finds her creeping around the room and faints.


With this information being presented , the short story challenges society’s view of women at the time, and their role as nothing more than mothers and wives to their husband. If you read the story, this is how women were being treated in the 1900’s. I would describe it as imprisonment of women, controlled by their husbands. In the short story John is the dominating spouse, who treats his wife like a child, as shown in the book: John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage (Gilman 486). Throughout the whole story John never takes Jane serious, also Jane finds herself emotionally dependent on her husband, John. Many times she questions herself why she stays in the room all of the time. She then answers herself by saying, ” John says it is good for me” (Gilman, 665). She thinks that her husband is more important than she is which is how society treated men back then. During that time, women could not work. At that period of time , women were expected to be motherly toward their children, and post- partum depression was disarmed as only temporary nervous depressions, John is a physical and perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster, you see he does not believe I am sick! (Gilman 486). Men thought that women were better mothers and wife’s rather than a worker.

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper the author is representing two things the narrator herself being trapped and all women of the 19th century being trapped by the follow of society. According to the woman who was trapped behind the wallpaper; it’s not coincidence that she’s trapped behind a pattern. We can think of social norms as patterns that restrict our actions. The woman, who is trapped, can show a symbolic way of that restriction. Jane later comes to realization that the woman is her. She isn’t trapped by the wall paper but she is trapped by her husband. She has become depressed by this lack of freedom. The Yellow Wallpaper shows the woman’s depression that leads to craziness through the symbolization of this woman in the walls. Luckily, Jane is able to escape the wall paper by coming to a realization that freedom is the only cure to all the crazy. Jane is not able to see her full potential because she is trapped. She will not find out what she is capable of until she removes the wall paper and frees herself. The only way she can be free is to remove herself from Johns life.

Throughout the story, Jane starts to realize that there are so many of those creeping women, they creep so fast. I wonder if they all come out of that wall-paper as I did? (Gilman). She wonders if they were once trapped before like her in a marriage and had to get free. She emphasizes look because of the feeling that looking out the windows makes her feel. She doesn’t like to look at them because it makes her jealous of that wanted freedom but she realizes there are others like her. Jane continues to struggle with her decision to want to leave the prison of a life she is trap in. She states I suppose I shall have to give back behind the pattern when he comes night and that is hard (Gilman).

By her saying suppose you see the woman hesitation to want to leave. Right now the woman is becoming OK with the idea of freedom and her head she hesitates and explains how she will have to get behind the pattern meaning she isn’t sure if the freedom she wants will be able to happen. Her husband could come back and convince her to say. She explains how it would be hard to become trapped again because after coming to the realization that she wants to be free it’s hard to just stay with you’re unhappy life. She knows she probably won’t be able to stay trapped when she decides to leave her family behind (Bedford). As time goes by Jane starts to tear the wallpaper ass she is slowly becoming free, she state i’ve got out of at last, said I in spite of you and Jane. And I pulled out of most of the papers so you can’t put it back! (Gilman).

Jane has finally become free. She pool off most of the paper which means she came to realizations that she wants to leave her family behind. When she says in spite she is showing house he doesn’t care what they want anymore. She does not care if it upsets them or destroys what they have created. Spite also means a desire to harm or offend someone, so she is showing how she doesn’t care at all anymore about what her leaving we’ll due to their lives. She is going to forget about her family and move on. She’s accepted it that forgetting about this past life will help her grow and since removed it from her mind there is no way John’s convincing can stop her now. Her excitement in this didn’t shows how happy she will be with this new life decision. It makes her sound more free and happy.

Jane’s Symbolism

In this story, Jane symbolizes the narrative’s repressed self that she envisions as a prison in the domestic sphere of her life. The more that the narrator looks at this wallpaper, the more woman takes shape: And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. The wallpaper in the story represents the protagonist mine sit during this time. It further symbolizes the way women were perceived during the 19 century. The woman trapped behind the yellow wallpaper is the narrator herself. Both the woman and the Wallpaper have a very powerful meaning to it. Gilman showed both by writing this short story. Also this is a short story about Gilman’s actual life and what she went through. I think that her writing this story would show feminism, confinement, how society was in the 19th century, and how now we can relate to it. I believe that this is a good story and it show/proves a lot.

I like how Jane was able to tear the wallpaper and free herself from her family and her husband. I don’t like that she had to be controlled by her husband because of society. The color of the wallpaper also has a meaning to it. Yellow is most often associated with the sun which makes us happy, so why was the narrator so sad and going crazy in a room that was covered in yellow wallpaper? When overused, yellow may have a disturbing effect, as the narrator tells us. Also it say that a dingy yellow represents caution, sickness and jealousy. The dingy yellow wallpaper that the narrator describes represents the decay of her marriage and life, her sickness, and even jealousy of men because she cannot escape the boundaries of a women (Cool Wheel Pro). Again yellow in this short story symbolize sickness and weakness. Gilman. States that the color is repellent, almost revolting; a unclean yellow strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight. It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others (Gilman 298).

When your life is designed for you, it is hard to be happy. It is hard to not let depression fill your mind. The woman in this story became crazy by the confinement of her life. She became one with the wallpaper and realized that being trapped to the walls will not make her happy. The yellow wallpaper, show how women are trapped to fit certain characters. Those characters of being the perfect women are not for everyone. Through the symbolization of the women in the walls, the women was able to yeast away the paper and break free of the bars that her husband surrounded her with.

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Jane's Depression In The Yellow Wallpaper. (2020, Jan 19). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/janes-depression-in-the-yellow-wallpaper/