Confinement and Escape in The Yellow Wallpaper

Rich in context, original in style, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is considered as one of her most remarkable works. This short narrative was considered for a respectable amount of time as almost unprintably shocking and still continues to unnerve readers to this day. The Yellow Wallpaper presents an interesting look at one woman’s struggle to deal with both physical and mental confinement. The way in which different themes and images have been tackled, has been provoking its readers especially since the main issue raised in the short story, which is the individual freedom, is one of the most cherished rights. However, the aim of this paper is to consider the different levels of the protagonist’s confinement and to analyze to what extent her ‘escapism’ from these matters has been realised.

The first level of the narrator’s imprisonment is that of her relationship with her husband. She is not permitted by him, who happens to be her physician, to leave the estate while he comes and goes end even spends the night outside caring for patients. As part of her “cure”, her husband “John” forbids her to even exercise her imagination in anyway thinking that he knows what is best for his wife and goes far to even disregarding her own opinion of the matter forcing her to hide her true feelings. He even patronizes her; when referring to her with the diminutive “little”, and prevents her her smallest wishes, such as when he refuses to switch bedrooms. This shows how the narrator is not permitted the same freedom as her husband and thus raises the issue of an unequal status of women within the institution of marriage. Actually, the fact that the narrator’s thoughts and feelings are being marginalized in her unequal relationship with her husband seems to aggravate the situation and suffocate her freedom.

The second level of the narrator’s confinement is within the upstairs room of which she gives a deta…