Analysis of The Yellow Wallpaper

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‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ was written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in response to what she passed through regarding mental health and improper treatment (Gilman 5). She argued that while she was mentally ill, she was being treated as if she was physically incapable of conducting her usual day-to-day activities such as working. In the story, Gilman depicts a woman that was receiving treatment from her husband who was a physician (Gilman 648). While the story is in first narration, the audience can see the mind of that woman. While she was told not to engage herself in any physical activities, she instead continued to write despite being against her husband’s will so that the reader could see her progression to insanity. In this essay, we will analyze the textual evidence from ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and how it related with the modern social issues.

The ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ involved a woman that had a mental breakdown but was unable to define her imagination and the reality. ‘Why I wrote the Yellow Wallpaper,’ is a story where Gilman explains why she wrote the story as she wanted to prove that if the treatment and knowledge of mental health do not make a person better, then the results can be seen in the cases of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,’ (Jeniffer 42). Notably, when there is not enough knowledge about treating mental health, then the negative stigma that gets into people makes their condition even worse. In the 20th century, mental health was a common subject that never got enough attention. In ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,’ the woman is told by her brother that “there is nothing wrong with her but just temporary nervous depression,” (Gilman 648).

The woman later disagrees with the diagnosis since she was not aware of her condition. As many people do, she did not get proper medication or treatment to make her live a healthy life. Elayne Clift also shows one good example through her book ‘Women’s Encounter with Mental Health,’ as she narrated about a young girl called Mindy who also got improper mental treatment after suffering from her unnecessary repercussions of the “incarceration in a loony bin,” (Clift 39). While being treated, the doctor stated that “we did not have enough knowledge on treating adolescents,” (Clift 39). This shows that one should get educated when it comes to the treatment of mental health.  The woman in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ as seen is forbidden to work. In normal circumstances, people of such status should be allowed to work so that they could intertwine with their normal lives. Since the woman’s husband also ignored her, the woman’s condition got worse.

 When a person with a mental condition is denied by their loved ones, they usually develop negative stigma. This is seen in the story even with the woman’s statement when she said that, “less opposition and more stimulus and society,” (Gilman 648). The woman is also seen to start developing the negative stigma when John told her that, “the worst thing you can do is to think about your condition,” (Gilman 648). According to Gilman, she is illustrating that the woman felt bad about herself because even her husband was asking her to ignore her own thoughts. The husband also never wanted any other person to know about her condition. Despite the fact that the story was written was written in the 20th century, people were still not comfortable with the issue of mental health. According to Prashant Bharadwaj, he discovered that about 36 percent responded to diagnosis and only 20 percent used the prescribed drugs (Bharadwai 122). The research illustrates that most people with mental conditions did not want to share the information for fear of being rejected by the society. In fact, the majority deny to themselves and others of having a mental health condition to avoid the negative stigma it brings. All this could be avoided if people were knowledgeable about mental health disease.

As illustrated earlier, people with mental health condition are treated improperly to the point that doctors used to lock them up. Gilman, in this case, was also asked to stay indoors due to her mental state and she portrayed what she felt to the rest of the world through the narration of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’ In the beginning, the narrator saw a woman trapped in the wallpaper and explained that “the figure seems to shake the pattern as if someone wants to get out,” (Gilman 652). This meant that she had hallucinations that she wanted to get out but she stayed alone in one room for many days after being locked in. Moreover, Gilman’s experience demonstrates how mentally ill patients are contained in psychiatric wards. According to Elyne Clift's book, escaping the yellow wallpaper meant that Mindy’s adolescent containment made the Manhattan State Hospital to be called the ‘warehouse of lost souls.’ (Clift). This shows that mentally ill people do not need to be imprisoned but rather assisted to cope with their lives mainly through support, medicine, and acceptance.


‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ as illustrated in the essay, is a narration about mental health and how the victims are discriminated. The woman in the story is neglected, denied her usual day-to-day routine and locked in the room alone all because the husband did not want the public to know. In the 20th

century, it has also been elaborated how people with mental health illness are mistreated and locked in hospitals. The best way of treating the mentally ill patients is by accepting them, prescribing medicine and supporting them.

Works Cited

Bharadwaj, Prashant. “Mental Health Stigma.” Mental Health Stigma, vol. 159, 1 Oct.

2017, pp. 57–60. Elsevier.

Clift, Elayne. Women's Encounters with the Mental Health Establishment: Escaping the Yellow

        Wallpaper. Haworth Press, 2002.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” New York Magazine, 1892.

Jennifer. “Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper.” Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the Forerunner, 30 Apr. 2008.

December 12, 2023



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