The Yellow Wallpaper

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The Yellow Wallpaper Sixth Entry Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The narrator dwells on the irritating lack of regularity in the wallpaper, which defies her ‘like a bad dream,’ resembling a fungus. She explains the wallpaper’s secret: it changes as the light changes. At night, the pattern becomes bars, and she sees the mysterious figure of a woman behind them. The figure puzzles and intrigues her, as she lies in bed.
The wallpaper’s puzzling patterns continue to symbolize the changeable nature of the narrator’s sickening mind. The fungus image is unclean, ill, ugly. The woman, trapped behind the bars of the pattern, seems like a double of the narrator herself. In fact, one could argue that the woman in the wallpaper is trapped in a way that is similar to the narrator within the story.
Themes
Mental Illness and its Treatment  Theme Icon
Gender Roles and Domestic Life Theme Icon
Outward Appearance vs. Inner Life Theme Icon
The narrator has been staying in bed even more, and John encourages her rest by making her lie down for an hour after each meal. She only pretends to sleep though, and hides this from her husband, of whom she is ‘getting a little afraid.’
The narrator’s paranoia further isolates her, so that she consciously deceives those around her, hiding her true, inner life. She is weakened by the continual rest cure that is supposed to help her. And the distance between the narrator and her husband is actually making her distrust and fear him.
Themes
Mental Illness and its Treatment  Theme Icon
Outward Appearance vs. Inner Life Theme Icon
Self-Expression, Miscommunication, and Misunderstanding Theme Icon
The narrator is beginning to distrust both John and Jennie, and suspects that it is the wallpaper’s fault. The narrator once caught Jennie with her hand on the wall, and she believes that Jennie is her rival in studying the pattern. Jennie says that she had noticed yellow stains on the narrator’s clothing and was only investigating their source.
Her paranoia grows, and she blames the wallpaper, which is a symbol of her sickness. She is jealous of Jennie’s interaction with it, anxious that only she should have access to the wallpaper’s secrets. The yellow stains are a clue that some part of the story is being withheld in the diary.
Themes
Mental Illness and its Treatment  Theme Icon
Self-Expression, Miscommunication, and Misunderstanding Theme Icon