Here is The Yellow Wallpaper Summary for you!
The Yellow Wallpaper Summary Section 1:
The Yellow Wallpaper is told as a series of journal entries. The narrator is suffering from nervous depression. As it begins, the narrator explains that she and her husband, John, have rented a colonial mansion for the summer. She feels that there is something strange about it. But John, a doctor and a man who claims to be practical and reasonable dismisses her misgivings. She has been prescribed medication and rest by John. She is not supposed to do any work, not even writing.
The house is miles from town. It is surrounded by gardens and broken-down greenhouses. The narrator’s room is on the upper floor. Bars on the windows were likely once used to keep children safe from falls. And the wallpaper in the room is peeled off by children in places. The narrator notices that the wallpaper is an ugly shade of yellow, and its pattern is equally ugly.
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The Yellow Wallpaper Summary Section 2:
Two weeks later, the narrator is sitting by the window writing in her journal. John is away for the day. She describes how depressed she feels and how difficult it is for her to do even those small tasks left to her, such as getting dressed and entertaining.
She reveals her anxiety is because of her newborn child. She relates an interaction between herself and John in which she asked to take a room downstairs rather than the upstairs room with the terrible wallpaper. But he had not listened to her.
She turns her attention to the view from the windows in her room. Out of one window, she can see a garden. Out of another, she can see a bay and a wharf.
(Wharf is an area where ships or boats are tied up and loaded or unloaded)
She thinks that sometimes she can see people walking on the paths, but John believes this to be her imagination. John tells her that once she is well, she can have visitors. Her thoughts about being unwell lead her back to thoughts of the yellow wallpaper, which she blames for her continued feelings of depression. She says that it looks like a series of unblinking eyes at the ends of broken necks. She has noticed a second pattern in the paper as well. It is a strange kind of figure. It seems to skulk about behind that front design. She also observes that the wallpaper is torn and the floor and walls are scratched.
As John’s sister, Jennie, approaches. She has come to help take care of the house. The narrator ends her journal entry.
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The Yellow Wallpaper Summary Section 3:
The narrator explains that Jennie took care of everything. John is very worried that the narrator isn’t getting well more quickly and considers sending her to Dr. Weir Mitchell for treatment.
The narrator does not want to go away for treatment.
She spends her days mostly alone, taking occasional walks on the estate or sitting on the porch. Most often she just lies in her room, stares at the wallpaper, and tries to follow its winding pattern to “some sort of a conclusion.” She notes that there is no symmetry or other element of design in the pattern. Following it fascinates her yet tires her.
The Yellow Wallpaper Summary Section 4:
The summer has progressed, and the narrator spends half of each day lying down now. She describes trying to talk reasonably with John about going to visit her cousins but being reduced to tears so easily she fails to convince him. John had carried her up to the bed and read to her. She considers it a blessing that she is using the room with the yellow wallpaper because, that way, her child can be in a different room and not be subjected to it. The shapes behind the outer pattern of the wallpaper have become clearer to the narrator, but she has decided not to share her insights about the wallpaper with Jennie or John: “Of course I never mention it to them anymore—I am too wise,—but I keep watch of it all the same.
There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will.”
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She also notices that the shapes look like the figure of a woman.
The Yellow Wallpaper Summary Section 5:
The narrator believes the figure she sees in the yellow wallpaper shakes the outer pattern as if it wants to get out. The narrator wants to feel the wallpaper to see if it has moved. When she returns to bed, her husband, John, is awake. He scolds her for being out of bed. She decides to talk to him about leaving the estate, but he says no, arguing that their lease doesn’t end for three more weeks and their own home is being repaired and is not yet ready. He tells her she is really better. The narrator disagrees and tells him so: “I don’t weigh a bit more … and my appetite … is worse in the morning when you are away!” John hugs the narrator and asks her to trust him. Then John goes back to sleep and the narrator lies there for hours, wondering if the front pattern and the back pattern move together or separately.
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The Yellow Wallpaper Summary Section 6:
The next journal entry begins with an elaborate description of the yellow wallpaper. She spends hours following the pattern, which she describes as “torturing.” She has figured out that the outside pattern of the wallpaper becomes bars when it is seen in the moonlight.
She sees something about the wallpaper that the others do not notice: “it changes as the light changes.” In sunlight, it looks one way, but in the moonlight, the narrator can see the “sub-pattern” and the figure of the woman becomes plain. John has begun forcing the narrator to lie down immediately after each meal, but she thinks this is a very bad habit. The narrator is beginning to fear her husband.
The narrator surprises Jennie when she is alone in the nursery staring at the wallpaper.
Jennie tells her to be careful because “she had found yellow smooches” on the narrator’s and John’s clothes. The narrator begins to feel suspicious of Jennie and John, believing them to be studying the pattern of the wallpaper, too. The narrator is determined to be the one to figure out the meaning of the wallpaper pattern.
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The Yellow Wallpaper Summary Section 7:
The narrator is excited, and her health is improving. She feels more positive, and John is pleased that she is eating well. She explains that her improvement is because she looks forward to watching the pattern in the wallpaper.
She does not intend to reveal this fact to John. She fears her husband will make fun of her or make her leave early if he finds out her improvement is because of the wallpaper.
The Yellow Wallpaper Summary Section 8:
The narrator says she feels better than ever. She sleeps most of the day and stays up all night to watch “developments” in the nursery wallpaper. She has begun to notice that the wallpaper gives off a smell that “creeps all over the house.” The smell follows her around. She spends a good amount of time puzzling over the smell, trying to figure out what it reminds her of. She decides it is a “yellow” smell.
The Yellow Wallpaper Summary Section 9:
The narrator has figured out that the outer pattern moves because the woman behind it shakes it, trying to climb through it. Sometimes she sees many women trapped in the wallpaper, and sometimes, only one.
But she notes it can’t be escaped from, because those who try to escape from it, get strangled in the pattern.
The Yellow Wallpaper Summary Section 10:
The narrator is convinced that the woman behind the wallpaper’s pattern gets out in the daytime because she can see her through the windows. The narrator insists that she herself only creeps around when she is in her room, and no one can see. She wishes that John would sleep in a different room because “John is so queer now.” Also, she would like to have the nursery to herself at night as well as by day.
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The Yellow Wallpaper Summary Section 11:
The narrator has decided to remove the top pattern from the wallpaper. She feels that there is some urgency about doing this because they have only two days left in the house. She tells the reader that she has a secret she isn’t going to even reveal in her journal: “I have found out another funny thing, but I shan’t tell it this time!” John has become concerned about her behavior, and he has been asking questions of both her and Jennie.
The narrator writes that he pretends to be loving and kind, but she can see through him. She also suspects that the yellow wallpaper is affecting Jennie.
The Yellow Wallpaper Summary Section 12:
The narrator feels certain that she can complete her task, although it is the last day in the house. Working by moonlight and with the help of the woman behind the pattern, the narrator has removed large areas of the wallpaper. She locks the door and throws the key out of the window, then begins peeling. She thinks that there are many women who come out from behind the wallpaper pattern and that she is actually one of them. She begins to creep around the wall of the room.
John arrives and finds the door locked. He pounds on it. She tells him that the key is under a plant outside, and he is able to open the door. She tells John that, “It is so pleasant to be out in this great room and creep around as I please!” “I’ve got out at last,” she says. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” He sees her creeping along. She faints across her path, but she continues to creep into the room.
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