"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a short story that portrays the descent into madness of a woman who is confined to her bedroom for most of the day, with nothing to do but look at the yellow wallpaper that covers the walls. The narrator's description of the wallpaper changes over the course of the story, reflecting her changing mental state.
Initially, the narrator views the wallpaper as repellent, describing it as "faded and a sickly yellow" and "an ill-used, over-roasted coffee colour." She finds the pattern to be "ridiculous" and "unnatural," and is repelled by its "lurid, unpleasant, even hateful" appearance. However, as she becomes increasingly isolated and confined, she becomes fixated on the pattern and begins to see hidden figures and meanings in it. She describes the pattern as "a sort of sub-pattern in a cross-way" and "a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern."
As the narrator's mental state deteriorates, her description of the wallpaper becomes more fragmented and distorted. She says, "I never saw a worse paper in my life. One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin." The narrator's obsession with the wallpaper leads to her complete breakdown, as she becomes convinced that there is a woman trapped inside the wallpaper and that she must free her.
In conclusion, the changing description of the wallpaper in "The Yellow Wallpaper" reflects the narrator's changing character and her descent into madness. The wallpaper serves as a symbol of the patriarchal society that has trapped her and her obsession with it ultimately leads to her complete breakdown.
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