Critical Dysfunction in The Yellow Wallpaper

2500 The connection she feels towards the wallpaper becomes intense as she tries to figure out the enigmatic patterns in it. This becomes her obsession as she finds “something more to expect, to look forward to” (Gilman 6) daily. In fact, even the scent of the wallpaper occupies her every waking thought. She gets obsessed with making discoveries in the wallpaper. However, as the need to share this becomes so potent that rather than sharing it with her husband, who patronizes her, she writes it all down. By noting her sentiments and breakthroughs, she finds a reprieve in the “dead paper and a great relief to my mind” (Gilman1). Keeping a secret dairy becomes her companion and her approach to self-expression. With this support, she eventually uncovers a woman trapped in the wallpaper patterns. The symbolism of this discovery is linked to the nature of her mental instability and condition. As she personally feels oppressed by her family and friends, she comes to resent the conventions of the society which determines women as fragile and weak. This is precisely what the discovery of the woman trapped in the wallpaper depicts: a reflection of the narrator’s own intellectual confinement. Hence, it becomes her ambition to rescue the woman in the wallpaper. By helping her, she intends to liberate herself from the impositions placed upon her by society and her husband. She eventually finds salvation in liberating the woman of the wallpaper and in the process, succumbs to insanity. To an extent, it’s easier to sympathize the lack of emancipation and self-expression which the narrator was denied, but due to her mental instability, her sentiments cannot be validated regarding the confinement and condescending attitude of her husband. It might become harder for the readers to believe her. Firstly, as it is her diary, so her point of views will take credence. Secondly, the narrator’s perception fluctuates throughout. She is inconsistent in her emotions, and this is seen in various scenarios. In the beginning, she states that her husband “doesn’t believe I am sick” (Gilman1) and later on, she is intimidated by his attitude. Even though the element of unreliability exists, her words are influential in determining her illness and mental capability. By bearing this in mind, one can ignore her inconsistency and acknowledge her dire need for self-expression and female emancipation.