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The Yellow Wallpaper

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Character List

Plot Overview

Analysis of Major Characters

The Narrator -  A young, upper-middle-class woman, newly married and a mother, who is undergoing care for depression. The narrator—whose name may or may not be Jane—is highly imaginative and a natural storyteller, though her doctors believe she has a “slight hysterical tendency.” The story is told in the form of her secret diary, in which she records her thoughts as her obsession with the wallpaper grows.

Read an in-depth analysis of The Narrator.

John -  The narrator’s husband and her physician. John restricts her behavior as part of her treatment. Unlike his imaginative wife, John is extremely practical, preferring facts and figures to “fancy,” at which he “scoffs openly.” He seems to love his wife, but he does not understand the negative effect his treatment has on her.

Read an in-depth analysis of John.

Jennie -  John’s sister. Jennie acts as housekeeper for the couple. Her presence and her contentment with a domestic role intensify the narrator’s feelings of guilt over her own inability to act as a traditional wife and mother. Jennie seems, at times, to suspect that the narrator is more troubled than she lets on.

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Wh

by agthomashc, April 11, 2014

I think the wallpaper represents her trying to escape her husband. She said she saw a woman trapped by bars trying to escape the wallpaper. This is symbolic of her relationship with John. As she looks further into the wallpaper, she is really examining her life and begins to change her mind and talk about how she now despises John.

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Postpartum Depression

by emilykwilk, May 06, 2014

I think it's important to realise not only that she is suffering from depression, but also the kind of depression she's really experiencing. The mention of the newborn child she is not allowed to see leads to the assumption that she is enduring postpartum depression. This adds to the sexism within the theme of the story. Her inability to meet the motherly expectations are a key factor to why she's addressed as a child.

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