The Yellow Wallpaper

Quotes

Narrator Quotes

Quotes Narrator Quotes
I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus—but John says the very worst thing I can do is think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad.

Although the narrator pinpoints what she truly needs to cure her depression, she acknowledges that thinking about the problem does make her feel bad. Perhaps, then, John could be right about the means for a cure. She lacks confidence in her own beliefs, an understandable state given both her condition and the fact that her husband, John, serves also as her doctor.

I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I’m sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition.

The narrator reflects on her own behavior and see her thoughts and feelings as unreasonable. She still judges herself rationally and sees that her illness may be affecting her, making her more sensitive than usual. On the other hand, her anger with John may not in fact be unreasonable. Her inner self may be fighting against his prescribed cure.

Of course it is only nervousness. It does weigh on me so not to do my duty in any way! I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative burden already!

The narrator admits that she desired to be a good wife in the Victorian sense—easing her husband’s burden by caring for the domestic sphere. However, as she must rest all of the time, she can’t help around the house at all. Instead of helping her feel better, resting makes her feel worse. She feels guilty from her inability to help, and resting deprives her of activity which would distract her thoughts.

It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby! And yet I cannot> be with him. It makes me so nervous.

The narrator here refers to the infant in the house generically as the baby, though later she will mention the child is hers, corroborated by John referring to their child. Her detachment and inability to care for the baby provide readers with clues as to her true illness. The narrator may have clinical postpartum depression.

I never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before, and we all know how much expression they have! I used to lie awake as a child and get more entertainment and terror out of blank walls and plain furniture than most children could find in a toy-store. I remember what a kindly wink the knobs of our big, old bureau used to have, and there was one chair that always seemed like a strong friend.

The narrator shares stories from her childhood that reveal she’s always had an active, vivid, imagination. Yet, her husband insists she quell her imagination, for he believes her fanciful ideas hinder her progress. Readers note, however, that the narrator’s imagination brought her enjoyment and comfort, and nurtured her abilities as a writer. Forbidden to write, the narrator’s imagination has no healthy outlet.

I don’t feel as if it was worth while to turn my hand over for anything, and I’m getting dreadfully fretful and querulous. I cry at nothing, and I cry most of the time. Of course I don’t when John is here, or anybody else, but when I am alone.

The narrator shares signs of her worsening depression in her emotional lability and anxiety. However, John does not acknowledge these signs of illness, and thus, to a certain extent, she questions the fact herself. She does not have the medical knowledge to argue against her husband’s diagnosis that her illness is self-inflicted. She understands she feels worse but must hide her true condition, since her worsening symptoms indicate her failure to follow his prescriptions.

I never thought of it before, but it is lucky that John kept me here after all, I can stand it so much easier than a baby, you see. Of course I never mention it to them any more—I am too wise,—but I keep watch of it all the same.

At first, the narrator simply detested the yellow wallpaper based on its appearance. Now she feels suspicious of the wallpaper. She believes that the wallpaper would harm her baby if given the chance. However, she knows enough not to mention this belief to her caregivers. She recognizes that they will not see the danger in the wallpaper, but at the same time her illness overrides her own rational beliefs.

John is so pleased to see me improve! He laughed a little the other day, and said I seemed to be flourishing in spite of my wall-paper. I turned it off with a laugh. I had no intention of telling him it was because of the wall-paper—he would make fun of me. He might even want to take me away. I don’t want to leave now until I have found it out.

The narrator reveals that she’s faking her improvement because she has a purpose—to solve the mystery of the wallpaper. She understands that her obsession with the wallpaper would be recognized as irrational by others, but nevertheless she believes that she needs to stay in the house because of the wallpaper. Her illness has progressed to psychosis at this point. Instead of wanting to leave the house, which she earlier begged to do, she fears being forced to leave.

I see her on that long road under the trees, creeping along, and when a carriage comes she hides under the blackberry vines. I don’t blame her a bit. It must be very humiliating to be caught creeping by daylight! I always lock the door when I creep by daylight. I can’t do it at night, for I know John would suspect something at once.

The narrator describes what she believes she sees: The woman from inside the wallpaper creeping about outside. By day, the woman creeps outside, by night, she returns to the wallpaper. The narrator’s description of herself as creeping by daylight lets readers envision her repetitiously wandering around the bedroom. Her illness has devolved into full-on delusion, but she still successfully hides her true state from her husband.

I suppose I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is hard! It is so pleasant to be out in this great room and creep around as I please! I don’t want to go outside. I won’t, even if Jennie asks me to. For outside you have to creep on the ground, and everything is green instead of yellow. But here I can creep smoothly on the floor, and my shoulder just fits in that long smooch around the wall, so I cannot lose my way.

The narrator now explains how she identifies herself as the woman in the wallpaper. She fully embraces this role and no longer wants any other. The fact that someone previously made a mark around the wall at the height of her shoulder, in addition to other hints—the torn wallpaper and bite marks—suggest that someone else was previously driven insane in the same room.