“There are things in the wallpaper that nobody knows about but me, or ever will. Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day. It is always the same shape, only very numerous. And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I don’t like it a bit. I wonder – I begin to think – I wish John would take me away from here!” (Gilman 90)
I chose this passage from the “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman because it represents both society at that time, and the narrator’s changing condition. When the narrator stated that the wallpaper contained things that “nobody knows about but (her), or ever will”, it revealed that she was hiding something about her true nature (Gilman 90). Her true nature seemed to be to retaliate against authority and it became “clearer” to her every day. She concealed her writing activities which had been restricted by her husband who controlled almost every aspect of her life. He had said that it was bad for her, but on a deeper level, he was preventing her from gaining freedom from his control. He wanted her to suppress her imagination or anything that was out of the norm. It was unnatural for a woman to disobey her husband at that time, so the narrator had to hide her thoughts and passions.
At the beginning of the story the room with the disgusting yellow wallpaper seemingly represented a prison. The narrator stated that “the windows (were) barred for little children, and there (were) rings and things in the walls.” (Gilman 84). The barred windows symbolized the bars of a jail cell while the rings most likely represented handcuffs and chains. The only time her husband was not in control of her was when she was in the room with the hideous yellow wallpaper partially described above. As the story progressed the prison-like room seemed to get more comfortable as her husband became stranger to her. She got used to the room with the wallpaper and less familiar with John as room and wallpaper started representing freedom. In the passage above, she saw more than just the confusing pattern on the wallpaper that is shown during the day. By the moonlight, she saw lots of little women “stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern” (Gilman 90). The pattern represented bars like the ones on a jail cell, and also like the bars over the narrator’s windows. The women that she saw represented herself and the many other women in society who were oppressed by their husbands. If the women did anything other than what they were told, they had to “creep” or keep it hidden. When she finally tore the paper down, she felt like she is freeing herself and the women as she disobeyed John’s orders not to pay attention to such impulses as concentrating on the wallpaper.
The next part of the passage described the narrator wishing that “John would take (her) away from here” (Gilman 90). She had expressed this to him, and been ignored. Many other requests had been ignored too. At the beginning of the story and well into the middle, the narrator had stated that she was trying to do as she was told, and seemed to feel guilty for not appreciating all of John’s kindness. As her requests for comfort (such as asking to leave, remove the wallpaper, and have company over) were ignored she started realizing that he was causing most of her stress and only “pretended to be very loving and kind” (Gilman 95). Once she understood this, she suddenly did not care about pleasing John anymore. She did not care about her sanity. She had only been taking remedies and doing what she was told in order to make him happy. He and his opinions no longer seemed to matter to her, and so when he fainted in front of her, she was not even phased.