Yellow Wallpaper Symbolism

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The short story The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Stenson is ripe with symbolism and representations that the author uses to criticize society at the time. In this story, Jane, a woman undergoing the rest cure, slowly descends into madness leading her to tear off the ugly wallpaper that was plastered in her room. Stenson uses this story and the symbolism therein to draw attention to and criticize the cruel treatment of women and people with mental illnesses at that time. The very last few lines of the book is a great example of such imagery. Distraught over her own powerlessness, Jane, the narrator, tears the wallpaper from the wall in order to exercise what little power that she has. Jane is absolutely powerless over her own situation.…show more content…
The most obvious and important symbol in the story is the ugly victorian style wallpaper. As Jane becomes continues being trapped in her room, she begins to see the figure of a woman trapped inside of it (653). This woman trapped in the paper symbolizes Jane herself, as she was trapped in the room with it with nothing to do other than stare at the wallpaper. This woman in the paper can also symbolize all of the people who were forced into similar cures and have lost their minds in a similar way. Another clear symbol of Jane’s feelings of being trapped is her window. While the rest of her room is dull and boring, just out one of the windows she “can see the garden... the riotous old fashioned flowers, and bushes and gnarly trees” (653). This symbolism is particularly brutal, because she can see life and beauty just outside of her window, but she is trapped in this smallish room permitted to absolutely nothing. In addition, there are bars on these windows, so it even further emphasizes the fact that Jane cannot escape (653). Finally, another symbol of her powerlessness occurs near the end when she is about to tear apart the wallpaper. When she is needs to use the bed to help her tear off the wallpaper on the top of the wall, she discovers that the furniture was actually bolted down. This room is essentially her domain for several months, and she can’t even do
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