Yellow Wallpaper Ending

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“The Yellow Wallpaper”: A Happy Ending? Critics generally agree that “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a story about a woman’s attempt to escape the “entrapment of the female illness experience of the nineteenth-century” (Hume 477). Using the “properties of illness” outlined in Virginia Woolf’s essay “On Being Ill” as a framework to define the illness experience, this paper will establish the female illness experience to be one with both medical components— aspects of illness defined by one’s own perceptions and individual, bodily experiences— and social components— outside forces that influence how illness is perceived by the sick individual herself or by others. These medical components, Woolf states, include the vastly different methods of perception…show more content…
Many of these “properties” are alluded to in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” indicating Woolf’s essay provides a relevant framework on the illness experience that can be used to explore the ideas presented in Gilman’s short story. Woolf mentions how the sick individual’s bodily senses take over their ability to interpret certain situations. She discusses this phenomenon in terms of literature, claiming “in illness words seem to possess a mystic quality. We grasp what is beyond their surface meaning, gather instinctively this, that, and the other—a sound, a colour…in healthy meaning has encroached upon sound. Our intelligence domineers over our senses” (Woolf 21). The state of illness makes its victims more attuned to their senses; the way the sick interpret specific circumstances is dominated by bodily senses. Likewise, Gilman’s narrator first describes the yellow wallpaper in detail through the interpretation of her senses: “It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper…such a peculiar odor, too…the only thing I can think of that it is like is the COLOR of the paper! A yellow smell” (Gilman 10-11). The capitalization of the word “color” serves to emphasize the juxtaposition in the following phrase “a yellow smell,” which is a clear indication of an overlay of senses. Many of the other words that are capitalized throughout the piece have some sort of association with a sense, such as “SMOOCH,” “LOOK,” and
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