The title of the story, the Yellow Wallpaper, hints to the most obvious piece of symbolism, the wallpaper of the room the narrator stays in. She does not become part of the wallpaper, but a vessel of reflection for her mental state. The yellow wallpaper of the nursery is a metaphorical representation of the narrator’s mental decline and feminine oppression.
The aspects of the wallpaper that the nameless narrator grows fond of becomes a symbolic portrayal of her decaying mentality. The odd treatment paired with the disorder she suffers from traumatizes her most negatively. Being practically locked in a prison-like room with nothing else to do, she notices the ‘changes’ in the wallpaper. The wallpaper does not fluctuate, she only projects her decline into an object as if to make her feel validated. The paper peels in odd patterns and smells just how it looks, filthy from prolonged wear and tear. These features entertain her. The peeling patterns represent her mind, how it is not perfectly intact and is slowly deteriorating. At the beginning of the story, she hates the room but soon grows to almost enjoy the spacious chamber, with an exception for the wallpaper. It is always at the forefront of her mind, a valid reason as to why she uses it to reflect her crumbling mental state. In the story, the pattern of the wallpaper tearing is described as “One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin. – they (patterns) suddenly commit suicide. . . destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions”. The narrator is already mentally weak, and the distraction of the hideous wallpaper only slows her down more, giving her more stress and nervousness. She succumbs to her urges and begins peeling at the unsettling paper all while her mind is regressing further.
By the ending of the story, she tears most of the horrid paper off from it hangs, correlating with her extreme decline. They go hand in hand, the more the narrator dissolves into mental ruin the more the ugly yellow wallpaper angers her and distracts her from other duties. As the paper becomes less intact, the narrator’s mentality does the same.
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