The Yellow Wallpaper Essay Examples and Topics

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Essay Examples
Essay Topics
Brief overview



Charlotte Perkins Gilman





Major Characters

The main characters in the book The Yellow Wall-Paper are The Woman in the Wallpaper, John, Jennie, Mary, and the Narrator. The Narrator is a middle-class woman who got married recently but she’s suffering from depression. She becomes obsessed with wallpaper as her doctor tries to give therapy that cannot work for her.

Based on

The story focuses on the life of the narrator/writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman who almost suffered a mental breakdown while following therapy instructions from her physician. She is advised to focus more on domestic chores and ignore her intellectual life or work for two hours a day.
The physician told her not to touch a pen, brush, or pencil. For three months, she observed his advice but at a cost that almost broke her mentally. It was after she chose to disobey him that she got healed and lived a normal life.


The yellow wallpaper symbols include the hotel room which symbolizes a prison or a place of mental torture. The wallpaper symbolizes a patriarchal society that devalues women. The patterns in the wallpaper symbolize the suffering woman the narrator became. The narrator becomes obsessed with the wallpaper and her desire to write is symbolic of madness in society.


Charlotte Perkins Gilman or the narrator gives birth to her daughter Katharine and her melancholic nature contributes to her level of depression in her. She seeks help but the help she gets pushes her deeper into depression. The influence in the story focuses on how therapists can sometimes give the wrong therapy that affects their patients more. Her husband makes her situation worse. The entire story reveals how women have suffered in patriarchal societies.


The Yellow Wallpaper gives details about a woman whose mental health deteriorates while undergoing rest cure therapy. To help her cure fast, her husband, a physician takes her to a summer holiday hotel. He gives her strict instructions not to leave the room or write but focus on rest.
She becomes obsessed with The Yellow Wallpaper in her room which contributes to her worst state of depression but also to her setting herself free. It was only when she disobeys her physician and returns to her writing that she begins to get healed. She writes a book “The Yellow Wallpaper.” And sends a copy to the therapist who never acknowledges it.

Why is this topic important?

The Yellow Wallpaper gives enlightenment to the reader about how society ignores woman’s health needs. They ignore her motherhood, mental wellness, and treatment. It reminds the reader of the importance of considering a woman’s feminism and gender relations. 19 century America ignored her just like the 21st-century society is doing.

Main Ideas

The main idea in the Yellow Wallpaper is the suffering women undergo due to post-partum depression. There are many other types of suffering they could be going through. All that they need is someone who shows them respect and gives them the freedom to decide about their health and lifestyle.

Key Quotes
  • The Narrator: “It doesn’t help to trust people too much.”
  • John: “There is nothing as fascinating and dangerous as a temperament like yours.”
  • Charlotte: “I have never seen a worse paper all my life. Its sprawling, flamboyant patterns commit every artistic sin.”
Interesting facts
  • Inspiration for the book The Yellow Wallpaper emanated from the writer’s mental illness.
  • The main purpose of Charlotte writing “The Yellow Wallpaper” was to convince the physician how erroneous his ways were.
  • The book “The Yellow Wallpaper” was instrumental in saving other women’s mental challenges.
  • The Atlantic Monthly rejected the Yellow Wallpaper terming it too depressing.
Arguments for

In a patriarchal society, the physical and phycological well-being of women is not taken care of. A woman who is deteriorating in her mental status is given the same therapy regardless of how she feels.
Women have a strong feminist nature as seen in the life of the narrator who heals fast and does well in life after rejecting treatment from her physician.

Arguments against

Although Charlotte is said to have focused on the concerns of women, her narration doesn’t seem to have any focus on women. Instead, she focuses on the belief that men control the lives of women.

The moment charlotte and her husband arrive at the summer house, her first description of it is a silent, far away, and haunted house. With that mentality, there is no way she could have expected anything positive from it including her cure.

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