“The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a short story which I have read a few times in various different classes. Because of this, I’ve heard many different interpretations of the story (which all focus around the oppression of women- but details here and there are always slightly different). The narrator is sent to a country house to receive treatment for her illness. Though never outright said in the story, it is known that she suffers from postpartum depression. At the time this was written (the late 1800’s), postpartum depression wasn’t understood, and those who suffered from it did not get the proper treatment. Charlotte Perkins Gilman herself had postpartum depression and was sent to the doctor who the narrator writes about in her diary, the one one John says she will have to go to if she does not recover.
The narrator’s husband, John, tries to help his wife but clearly suppresses her further by his ‘treatment’ of keeping her locked in the attic of a rented house with little to no contact with the outside world. She escapes in her secret diary, which she keeps hidden from John. It is obvious from her language that she has a very clear and vivid imagination which John encourages her not to exercise as a part of her cure. She begins to focus on her surroundings which is when she notices the yellow wallpaper. She says it moves; more specifically ‘creeps’, and eventually comes to the conclusion that there is a woman inside trying to get out.
The end is left up to the interpretation of the reader, but I’ve always believed that the narrator is Jane, and the woman who comes out of the wallpaper is like a split personality- Jane without oppression. When she tells John she’s escaped despite his and Jane’s attempts to keep her away, she means she is now free of his treatments. This could be an explanation as to why he faints when she says this.