one pixel image
The Yellow Wallpaper Study Guide

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman


The Yellow Wallpaper: Plot Summary

Table of contents

  1. Full Book Summary
  2. Plot Summary by Chapters

Full Book Summary

The plot of The Yellow Wallpaper is built on the story narrated by a woman who is suffering from postpartum depression and has been prescribed a “rest cure” by her physician husband.

The protagonist, whose name is never revealed, is confined to a room with yellow wallpaper, which she becomes obsessed with and sees as a symbol of her own entrapment. Her husband, John, forbids her from working or writing, and insists that she spend all her time resting.

As her mental state deteriorates, the protagonist becomes convinced that there is a woman trapped behind the wallpaper and begins to identify with her. She becomes increasingly fixated on the wallpaper, spending hours staring at it and trying to decipher its pattern.

As the days pass, the protagonist becomes more and more unstable. She begins to hear strange noises and sees figures moving behind the wallpaper. She becomes convinced that the woman behind the wallpaper is trying to escape and begins to tear away at the paper in an attempt to free her.

In the story’s climactic scene, the protagonist has completely lost touch with reality. She has locked herself in the room and is crawling on all fours, tearing at the wallpaper. When her husband finally enters the room, he finds her in a state of complete madness.

The story ends with the protagonist declaring that she has “finally got out at last,” suggesting that she has become one with the woman behind the wallpaper and has achieved some form of freedom.

Plot Summary by Chapters

The Yellow Wallpaper ending explained

The ending of The Yellow Wallpaper is a powerful and ambiguous one, leaving readers to interpret the protagonist’s fate and the meaning behind her final words. Throughout the story, the protagonist’s mental state deteriorates as she becomes increasingly obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in her room. By the end of the story, she has descended into madness, and her final words suggest that she has achieved some form of freedom.

The protagonist’s declaration that she has “finally got out at last” can be interpreted in a few different ways. On one hand, it could suggest that she has broken free from the confines of her husband’s “rest cure” and the societal limitations placed on women at the time. By embracing her madness and identifying with the woman behind the wallpaper, she has rejected the role that has been assigned to her and found a way to assert her own identity.

On the other hand, the protagonist’s final words could be read as a more sinister ending, suggesting that she has succumbed completely to her madness and has been consumed by the woman behind the wallpaper. The phrase “got out” could be interpreted as a reference to death, suggesting that the protagonist has either killed herself or has been killed by the woman behind the wallpaper.

In The Yellow Wallpaper, the ending is made all the more haunting by the fact that the protagonist’s fate is left open to interpretation. It is not clear whether she has achieved freedom or has been consumed by her madness, leaving readers to grapple with the implications of both possibilities.

Furthermore, the ambiguity of the ending adds to the story’s overall message about the limitations placed on women’s lives and the difficulties of breaking free from societal expectations. Even if the protagonist has achieved some form of freedom, it is clear that this has come at a great cost, and that she has had to sacrifice her own mental health and well-being in order to do so.

Overall, the ending of The Yellow Wallpaper is a powerful and thought-provoking one, leaving readers to interpret the meaning behind the protagonist’s final words and the implications of her fate. The story’s use of ambiguity adds to its impact and reinforces its themes of isolation, identity, and the search for self-expression. The ending is a fitting conclusion to a haunting and enduring work of feminist literature.

We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!
  • Instructions Followed To The Letter
  • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
  • Unique And Plagiarism Free
Order your paper now