Gilman composed this story as a symbol of the oppression ladies face in a society loaded with paternalism over females. The narrator, a female, feels helpless versus her other half (John), who identifies what she does, who she sees, and where she goes while she is recuperating from her disease. She is misdiagnosed with hysteria, a term suggested to belittle women for being excessively psychological. Her only course to flexibility is madness.
The major function of John’s control over her, is him limiting her from writing. She feels composing would assist her recover, however John believes it only saps her strength. He reduces her imagination and intelligence and forces her into the position of a powerless wife. The act of concealing her writing whenever John is around resembles the method literary women in the 18th-century, and the late 19th-century needed to hide their work from their families.
The storyteller feels like she is put behind bars, not being able to manage her mind or her thoughts, “It is rather alone, standing well back from the roadway, quite three miles from the town. It makes me think about English positions that you read about, for there are hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of different little homes for the gardeners and people … I never saw such a garden– large and shady, filled with box-bordered paths …” Whatever to the storyteller looks like a prison; she feels like she is simply a detainee being held captive in her cell (which is her space). The wallpaper is also starting to take a crucial position in her mind and reality. She is starting to feel as if the wallpaper was enjoying her. Not just do John and Jennie enjoy her, but now the wallpaper. That really provides her that sense of imprisonment.
The narrator finds something weird on a moonlight evening that prove to be of significance later. Night, in literature, is typically viewed as an escape from the mindful order of the day; at night the subconscious cuts loose with dreams. The moon tends to symbolize female instinct and sensitivity. Sunshine controls the nursery throughout the day, much as John dominates the storyteller throughout the day as he gives her “a schedule prescription for each hour in the day.” Thus, sunshine is connected with ordered, manly oppression, while the night seems to liberate the storyteller. Sunlight is also equated with the yellow wallpaper, which is “faded by the slow-turning sunshine.” The “sickly sulphur tint” of the wallpaper is likewise connected with illness. When the storyteller attempts to encourage John to repaper the nursery, John rejects her demand showing his continued his supremacy over her.
The storyteller also discovers that there is a lady in the wallpaper. Overtime, it becomes clear that the lady in the wallpaper represents womanly jail time. As her story grows more disorderly, the storyteller starts to relate to the female in the wallpaper. The storyteller’s sense of truth has become deformed by the wallpaper. No longer acknowledging herself as ill, she chooses that John and Jennie are the ones being impacted by the wallpaper.
The narrator’s madness reaches its high as she identifies completely with the female in the wallpaper. She thinks that not just has the woman come out of the wallpaper, but she has also. When she mentions that she has gotten away from the wallpaper regardless of John and Jennie, she recommends that they and the representation of ideal domesticity has actually added to her jail time. She enabled John and social expectations to control her now she and the other woman that were “creeping” have actually now broken complimentary. This shows that feminism needed to “sneak” about privately before it could be acknowledged and appreciated.
After seeing the narrator literally crawl and sneak on the flooring at the end, triggered John to pass out. This is a stereotypical show of weak point of lady. The narrator had finally revealed supremacy in her marital relationship and with John unconscious on the flooring, her imaginative restraints were finally loose; and her continuous “sneaking” over Johns body represented her freedom and to reveal his inferiority.