At the end of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s classic short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator’s final actions can be understood as a decisive act of liberation. The narrator has been struggling with a mental breakdown throughout the story, which is understood to be an allegory for women being oppressed by male dominated society in 19th Century America. By breaking through the wallpaper that had come to symbolize her own repression and captivity, she is ultimately able to free herself from her figurative prison and find freedom and autonomy at last.
In order to understand what this moment means for the narrator, it is important first to recognize how oppressive her situation has become over time. Throughout much of the story, she is largely kept in isolation in a room that features “the most beautiful yellow wallpaper” (Gilman, 1892). The color of this wallpaper soon begins to take on a symbolic meaning for the narrator: “It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw—not beautiful ones like buttercups” (Gilman 1892). This imagery serves as a visual representation of her sense of suffocation and imprisonment due to restrictive gender roles in society at large.
How would you explain the narrator’s final actions at the story’s end in the “The Yellow Wallpaper”
As tension builds within herself between feeling trapped by societal expectations on one hand and yearning for independence on the other, she finally reaches a breaking point where she turns against even those closest to her: “I have got out at last…in spite of you and Jane [her husband]” (Gilman 1892). At this point in time she rips off pieces of wallpaper around her bed until “the entire length was stripped….[and] I threw itself down upon my bed again” (Gilman 1892). In doing so, we can see how this action represents much more than just tearing up some paper: it also represents rejecting any form oppressive forces enslaving or dictating how others should live their lives. As feminist theorist Judy Chicago states in Through The Flower: My Struggle As A Woman Artist: “Through writing ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’… Gilman rejected conventional definitions imposed by patriarchal culture” (Chicago 1975).
Ultimately then we can see that by destroying the yellow wallpaper which had come symbolize both literal walls confining her but also societal expectations oppressing women during this period in history; our protagonist asserts control over her life once again. Although not explicitly stated outright , we get an implicit implication through these actions that our protagonist will continue onward striving towards greater autonomy as well personal fulfillment – no longer defined or limited by external forces such figures like husbands or doctors who have been attempting dictate or confine them . This moment therefore serves as triumphant ending which speaks loudly about female empowerment and capacity for reclaiming agency even when faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles .