Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper: A Psychological Approach

The novel “The yellow paper” discusses the limitations imposed on women by society and domestic life and shows what impact these limitations may have on a person’s psyche. From a psychological point of view, doing nothing can lead to all kinds of psychological deviations as the desire for self-realization is inherent in people’s nature. Thus, the heroine seeks to employ herself and says that “congenial work, with excitement and change, would do [her] good” (Perkings, 2022, p.2). Being denied this opportunity, she first falls into depression, and then madness sets in since people’s lives are made more fulfilling by an opportunity to develop their potential. Staying at home all day long the heroine engages in all kinds of fantasies about the yellow paper in her room.

From the psychological point of view, people’s inner world as well as subjective experience determine their behavior. Since the heroine mainly stays at home and, preferably, in bed, her experience revolves around objects in her room, among which is the yellow paper. Her husband advices her to have a rest, and the readers see her, brooding and restless, confined within four walls day after day. The atmosphere begins to get on her nerves and she starts to discern a woman behind the yellow wallpaper who is enclosed in the yellow pattern. Thus, she says: “It is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern” (Perkins, 2022, p. 5). Every day “behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer” and every day the woman’s madness encroaches as she is unable to fulfill her potential (Perkins, 2022, p. 8). The novel culminates in the character’s madness, which can be seen as a result of the restricted life she has led.


Perkins, G. C. (2022). The yellow wallpaper. Web.