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The Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper


by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Analysis: What’s Up With the Ending?

Ah, endings. Always a tricky business. In "The Yellow Wallpaper," the (by now very mentally ill) narrator has stripped off all the wallpaper in her room and is creeping around when her husband shows up at the door. She tells him that she’s free and that she’s liberated herself. He faints and she continues to creep around the room.

First of all, this leaves us with a big, huge question that we address in "Themes and Quotes." The question: Is the narrator really liberated? We’re inclined towards saying no, given that she’s still creeping around the room and that her mind is now insane. How is this freedom?

We next turn our attention to the narrator’s husband John. As soon as he sees her, he faints. Some critics have argued that John’s faint demonstrates a moment of feminine weakness in the character of the story’s otherwise quintessential man. This provides a degree of balance to the story. The narrator attains freedom; John turns into a woman. But that argument depends on your belief that the narrator is actually free at the end. Tricky.

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