The Yellow Wallpaper

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The Yellow Wallpaper Fifth Entry Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator describes an attempt she made to discuss her case with John the night before, as the moonlight crept in the windows. She lay awake watching the light on the pattern, seeing the figure seem to move behind it, and then got up to feel if it had in fact moved, waking up her husband.
The wallpaper has become a place where the stifled inner life of the narrator is expressed. She is experiencing insomnia and hallucinations.
Themes
Mental Illness and its Treatment  Theme Icon
Outward Appearance vs. Inner Life Theme Icon
In her memory, the narrator tells John that she wishes to leave the house. He objects to this notion, which he views as silly since there are only three weeks left on their lease and she seems to be recovering. She tries to insist, arguing that while she may be better in body, her mind is suffering. His tone shifts, from the indulgent scolding of a child, to a stern command not to entertain such a ‘false and foolish fancy.’
Here, John asserts his traditional authority as doctor and husband, and embracing the traditional view that emotion or anxiety (seen as feminine) are ‘foolish fancies’ that should not even be considered. And so this desperate attempt by the narrator to make herself understood fails, as John cannot understand the difference between her outward appearance and inner suffering.
Themes
Mental Illness and its Treatment  Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Domestic Life Theme Icon
Outward Appearance vs. Inner Life Theme Icon
Self-Expression, Miscommunication, and Misunderstanding Theme Icon
After the argument is over, the narrator lay awake for hours staring at the pattern in the wallpaper.
The narrator is increasingly isolated from John, and in her isolation becomes increasingly obsessed with the wallpaper.
Themes
Outward Appearance vs. Inner Life Theme Icon
Self-Expression, Miscommunication, and Misunderstanding Theme Icon