The Narrator of the Yellow Wallpaper

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In the beginning of the story, the narrator explained the house as being a beautiful, silent, far away from the village, gated, and a haunted house. She already described the home as something devil-like possessed and wondered why else the house went on sale for so cheap and why it was abandoned for so long. Has strict rules by her husband to stay in the house all day with some exercise outside in the gated garden. While being indoors all day she focuses on writing about how her feeling, the house, sickness, and husband’s restrictions.

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The husband John is a physician, who diagnosed her as having temporary nervous depression. Her brother is also a physician who agrees with the husband on the illness. Due to being diagnosed with this it makes her feels nervous to be around her baby boy therefore, Mary a nanny takes care of him instead.

Being isolated in the nursery room in which she described as having small windows with rings locking them down, a nailed down bed that does not move, and a hideous yellow wallpaper that has patterns and peeling off. She spends so much time there sitting by the window staring into the garden, or the bay as people walk by, or writes about her misery days.The narrator has spent so much time in that room that she begins to see a shadow in the shape of a woman who claims to be secretly going out into the garden when nobody is around and nobody can see the lady only she can. She explains how the wallpaper does not move, that it is the woman who shakes the wallpaper. A smell began to appear all over the house that had her so confused and wanting to burn the house down just to find where the smell was coming from. One day when John was out like usual not coming home due to a serious case he was dealing with she decided to lock herself in the room and threw the key out the window into some plants. She did not want to leave the room due to her peeling the wallpaper off after having to move out the house by tomorrow. When John gets home, he asks her several times to please open the door to which she replies to the key is out in the garden in some plantain plants. He then gets to her, but is too late she had escaped. I’ve got out at last, In spite of you and Jane! And I’ve pulled off most of the paper so you can’t put me back! (Gilman,1899). The shadow lady was a symbolism of her life, litreally being trapped inside a wallpaper just how the narrator was always locked indoors.

This book was written in 1892, back then psychology had different views and different treatments/diagnosis. In the 1800s-2000s, abnormal behavior was called mentally handicapped, deviant, dysfunctional, and impaired just by the language used we can imagine how they viewed or treated people with a mental illness. The renaissance era was all about treating people with mental illnesses humane by keeping them at home with families or support in communities. In the 1600s-1700s the beginning of institutionalization care to help with severe mental disorders, with overcrowding hospitals that became dangerous and inhumane treatment. In the story the narrator’s husband wanted to hospitalize his wife because her symptoms were getting worse, but she in terror rejected the idea and begged not to be put away. Her husband who was a physician treated her illness with a stay at home treatment, but instead of being with family and support she was isolated in a room without human contact.

In recent psychological treatment, we would define abnormal behavior through deviance, distress, dysfunctional, and dangerous. For someone to be deviant they behave in a way that goes against specific cultural norms. Distress is associated with negative, emotions, upsetting thoughts, or stress. Dysfunctional interferes with daily living or functioning. Dangerous potentially harmful to yourself or others. Generalized Anxiety Disorder goes on for 6 months or more, person experiences disproportionate, uncontrollable, and ongoing anxiety and worry about multiple matters. The symptoms include at least three of the following: edginess, fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, muscle tension, sleep problems. And suffers significant distress or impairment. (Comer,2015) In the yellow wallpaper, she shows symptoms of fatigue, irritability, concentration, and sleep problems; also, suffers from a significant amount of distress. The narrator is unable to care for her child which shows how unable to concentrate she is. Only sleeps in the day so at night she can watch the woman in the wallpaper. Jeannie tries to make her eat but she does not and multiple times rejects to eat to instead be inside the nursery room.

Irritated with her inner thoughts of the house and how her husband, husband’s sister, and Jeannie are after her due to her illness. Distress of wanting to feel better or getting well soon and not being able to life a normal and happy life along her husband, child, and other family members. The narrator always goes in an extreme worry about her life and how she needs to get better before her husband hospitalizes her. Coming to the conclusion that the narrator from Yellow Wallpaper has Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Treatment used nowadays would be Client-Centered Therapy to create accepting enviroments and empathy. She lacks of unconditionally positive regard causes self-judgement and anxiety.


Comer, R. J. (2015). Abnormal psychology. New York, NY: Worth.

GILMAN, C. P. (1899). YELLOW WALLPAPER. Boston: Small, Maynard, and Company.

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The Narrator of the Yellow Wallpaper. (2019, Nov 13). Retrieved from