What Does the Yellow Paper Symbolize?

The symbolism of the yellow wallpaper in the story highlights the social norms of patriarchy and the lack of autonomy and respect for women during that time. The story was written in 1892, a period where women had no right to vote and had limited control over their own lives. The narrator’s situation reflects this historical background as she is forced to abide by her husband’s decisions, such as sleeping in the room with the yellow wallpaper.

The yellow wallpaper is a symbol of the narrator’s neglect of her own desires, which was common during that era. As the story progresses, the narrator descends into madness due to her confinement in the room with the wallpaper. The wallpaper becomes the sole focus of her attention, representing her deteriorating mental state. She tears it off, symbolizing her desire to break free from the oppressive societal norms and gain autonomy and freedom.

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The wallpaper, therefore, is a collective symbol that represents the different aspects of the society during that time, including the oppressive social standards of patriarchy and women’s striving for autonomy and respect. The narrator’s descent into madness reflects the harmful effects of these social norms and the importance of recognizing and addressing them. The story serves as a critique of the society and its treatment of women, highlighting the need for change and the recognition of women’s rights.


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