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The Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Freedom and Confinement Theme

The narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is essentially confined to a single room in a large house. Conversely, her husband frequently spends his nights in town as part of his duties as a bigshot doctor. This dichotomy is the overwhelmingly dominant theme of the story, as the narrator’s attempts to cope with isolation wind up being the engine driving the plot forward.

Questions About Freedom and Confinement

  1. Is the narrator truly liberated at the end of the story? Why or why not?
  2. Who is responsible for the narrator’s confinement? How can you tell?
  3. To what extent is the narrator responsible for her own confinement?
  4. To what extent is the narrator aware of her own imprisonment?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The narrator is not liberated at the end of the story. Rather, she has simply fallen deeply into mental illness.

The narrator has successfully liberated herself by the end of the story.

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