The Yellow Wallpaper

A Madwoman’s Perspective: Examining Point of View in “The Yellow Wallpaper” College

In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman presents readers with the theme of a woman restrained by her more powerful husband. When a woman being treated for hysteria by her domineering spouse is forced to stay in a room with maddening yellow wallpaper, she is eventually driven insane, imagining a woman is trapped inside the pattern. She herself is trapped in a world where women are not taken seriously and are dismissed as hysterical. Gilman’s choice of a first person point of view - more specifically one of a woman writing in a diary - helps to emphasize the frightening situation of the woman in the story. The unique point of view allows readers to see not only the internal feelings of a woman essentially imprisoned, but also the implications of writing such a diary and the moments when the woman is holding back (or being held back).

It must be admitted that there is a problem with having a first person narrator in a work of fiction. A certain degree of reliability is lost when readers only hear one side of the story, especially when it’s impossible to tell if that one side of the story is even true. Gilman certainly sets up the narrator of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” to be less than perfectly truthful. Soon after the...

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