Free Essay: Possession, Obsession and Controlled Relationships in "The Yellow Wallpaper"

Published: 2023-09-06
Free Essay: Possession, Obsession and Controlled Relationships in "The Yellow Wallpaper"
Essay type:  Book review
Categories:  Relationship Mental disorder The Yellow Wallpaper Essays by pagecount
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 963 words
9 min read

The "Yellow paper" a story narrated by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, talks about a woman who went to a getaway house with her husband to escape the reality of life. The fascination in the story comes from the yellow and patterned wallpaper where the woman later realized that her escape with her husband from reality made hem to be trapped inside the wallpaper. The debate is also influenced by two scholars, Todd McGowan and Meryern Ayan. This essay will develop the narrator's possessiveness over the wallpaper and the connection between the two authors concerning the relationship with John.

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The identity of the feminist by Gilman elaborates more on the female versus the males in the story. Gilman shows how gender roles and feminism align with the relationship between John and the narrator and how women are characterized in male-dominated environments. According to Gilman, "John's attitude on the narrator is making me possessive on the wallpaper because of the total control of the situation" (Gilman 244). Her argument is she needs to sop the wallpaper from haunting her. McGowan argues that John is also struggling with it because, as the story develops, the narrator shows how the narrator's fascination concerning the wallpaper goes high. John later advocates this consequence and takes control. Then, the wallpaper sets the narrator free. I agree with the attraction of John taking action over the narrator because his main focus is to stop the narrator's madness of obsession by declining her condition and focusing on the wallpaper.

The beginning of Gilman shows how the narrator has an appreciative and loving view concerning John. She even states how John is thoughtful to her, how he loves her, and how John always wants the best out of the narrator." He is very loving, caring, and hardly lets me make a move without direction" (Gilman 320). The statement shows how appreciative and admirable John is towards her. However, this does not fit with her loving emotions towards John, as seen in the beginning. Ayan argues that in the male-dominated world people live in, the description of women is done through men. "The world explains women through men's power and voice because women are pushed away instead of being placed in the center of meaning, actions, and ideas" (Ayan 56). I concur with this argument because the narrator shows the sensitivity of women's status towards men. A good example here is seen in the woman and how she blamed herself because of John's action.

Gilman finds the wallpaper atrocious and does not want to experience or stay with it. However, along the line, she is interested and fascinated with the wallpaper and wants to know about it. "I am getting used to the room despite the presence of the wallpaper. Maybe the wallpaper's pattern will give a conclusion of what I desire" (Gilman 323). The narrator focuses on the wallpaper, and that is why she decides to find out why the paper was yellow. It is at this point that she discovered that John does not show any interest in her discoveries. Again Ayan is talking about the same issue by arguing that most women are disadvantaged in societies." When women are compared to men, they struggle before their voices are heard, and this shows that unless they raise their voice, they cannot prove to be good as men" (Ayan 78). I support both arguments because women go through a rough time before their voices are heard. For instance, John is an excellent example to show that he dismissed the narrator's view while she tried to tell him what she discovered. John gave him a lame excuse and disregarded her ideas.

Gilman argues that the narrator has become possessive with the wallpaper to the point that she wants to be the first female to understand the wallpaper's secrets. She even stated that "I will do my best to discover the secret about the wallpaper myself… this means no one will touch this wallpaper except me" (Gilman 329). In short, the narrator is possessed with the wallpaper, and knowing the meaning will make her relax. According to McGowan, women struggle to make their voices heard by their husbands, as many men think they are the best. McGowan also notices this denial and elaborates more on the wallpaper. The author discovered that since John refused to consider the narrator's ideas, he makes her spend more time thinking about the wallpaper. The fact that John ignored the narrator compelled the narrator's situation, and this horrifies her because of trying to free herself from the wallpaper. "It is on this occasion that John's refusal triggers the narrator's mind to give the wallpaper more attention" (McGowan 43). I tend to agree with McGowan's argument that the narrator cannot stop looking at the wallpaper because she feels that her ideas and feelings are ignored.


The relationship between John, the narrator, and the wallpaper is very unusual. The idea is also related to the female versus male situations by Ayan. There is a significant difference between the narrator's relationship with the wallpaper and the relationship with John. After the conversations and analysis, the idea seen from the scholars is that the controlling attitude towards the narrator makes her obsessed with the wallpaper, and this ruins the relationship between John and her.

Works Cited

Ayan, Meryem. “Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935). The Yellow Wallpaper: The Feminist Identity Paper.” Representing Minorities: Sources in Literature and Criticism (2008): 74-89. Interlibrary Loan. Web. 31 Mar. 2015.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper”. 1892. Ed. Dale M. Bauer. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 1998. 41-59.

McGowan, Todd. (2001). Dispossessing the self: ‘The Yellow Wall-paper’ and the renunciation of property. The Feminine ‘No!’: Psychoanalysis and the New Canon (pp. 31-46). New York: the State University of New York Press

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