The Narrator’s Mental State as Seen Through Her Surroundings in
“The Yellow Wallpaper”.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper” Charlotte Perkins Gilman addresses the suffering of depressed women at the turn of the century. Ironically it is the cure, not the illness that these women found most debilitating. The narrator who is suffering from post-partum depression, is isolated in a room for her own good. The opposite effect is revealed in her description of her surroundings. Indeed, it is her repeated references to the house, her room, and the wallpaper, which reveal her journey from mild depression, to obsessive paranoia, and finally to complete psychosis.
The narrator’s mild depression is first evident at the start of her prescribed rest cure when she describes the house. She describes the house as beautiful, with a garden that is very large and shady with long grape covered arbors that have seats underneath, a private Wharf that belongs to the estate that is connected to the house by a beautiful shaded lane, and how her room is big and airy. As she is describing these things her positive comments are often followed by negative ones, for example it is three miles from the village, how it has gates that lock, and how the window to her room is bared. These statements inform the reader that the narrator is starting to think negatively which is one of the signs of depression. Another sign of depression that she shows is letting people make decisions that she does not like for her. She does this by letting her husband choose to make her room the one upstairs instead of the one she wanted.
As her rest cure treatment progresses the narrator starts to drift from her depression into paranoia. This can be seen when she begins obsessing over the yellow wallpaper in her room. She starts to talk more and more about the wallpaper one reference to the wallpaper that she makes is when she says “The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the...