The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It is based on a series of diary entries. In this story, the narrator gives details of her stay in a certain estate for three months. This article, therefore, presents a quick synopsis of the story.
Here Is a Summarized Plot Overview
Her first entry provides the details of the circumstances that led to the narrator and her husband named John to go to the estate. John is a physician. He diagnoses his wife, with hysterical tendencies after their male child was conceived. He takes care of her. Although there are no clear symptoms, the narrator believes her husband and respects his authority. She is subjected to supplements and also has a schedule for daily activities. She is not to engage in any work or any activities that stimulate her mentally.
The narrator expresses to her husband that the house feels strange to her. She tells him that she wants to have the room that is on the ground floor that has roses on its window. However, the husband insists they stay in a remodeled nursery which occupied the top floor. This room is spacious and has good circulation. However, its windows have bars, and there is a wallpaper that the narrator finds ugly.
The next entry is dated two weeks later. She describes how she felt she failed herself personally since she believes that she is not functioning to her husband’s expectations. Her husband is always away, and she is usually too tired to write. She is also usually anxious to see her son who had a nanny. Her husband John dismisses her request to switch rooms or even change the wallpaper. He says that it is harmful to indulge her desires in her condition and discourages her from using imagination. The narrator begins to view the rooms wallpaper as malicious and even starts seeing a shape behind the room’s wallpaper design.
The next few weeks, our narrator’s emotional health gets worse. She tires easily and spends a lot of her time crying. She often feels weak and hopeless. Her physical activities become limited and most of her time is spent lying in the room. John turned down the request for her to have her friends see her stating that it is a setback to her recovery. The narrator’s thoughts are a mess, and she stares at the wallpaper for long periods. This makes her see the shape of a woman creeping behind the design. John spots her staring at the wallpaper to see if the shape was moving.
Soon the narrator’s changes how she perceives the wallpaper. She now believes that the shape of the woman behind it stays put during the day and moves during the night. She lies to her husband that she is sleeping as an excuse to be alone in the room. She now believes that her husband and his sister Jenny are also seeking answers to the wallpaper mystery. Some yellow stains on John’s clothes increase the suspicions.
Going into the final parts of the narrator’s stay, the obsession she had with the wallpaper gives her strength. She even manages to derive some new features of the yellow wallpaper. She describes the wall as having a yellow smell that spread throughout the house. She even describes the movement of the woman figure saying that she was shaking and making attempts to climb out. She sees the woman who was behind the wallpaper, in the garden, creeping. The narrator results in removing a pattern from the front part of the wallpaper and begins to suspect her husband and his sister.
In the last entry, the narrator describes the last day of the lease. She had spent all night trying to free the trapped woman in the wallpaper by tearing it down. However, she is unable to move her bed, and this frustrates her. She bites it as a result. She continues tearing down the wallpaper now envisioning herself as the actual trapped person. She looks outside through her window and sees several other women creeping. She now prefers her room and the wallpaper. John comes home, sees what she had done and he faints. She creeps over him.