Charlotte Perkins Gilman published this short story in 1892, and it immediately resonated among the public. It is a secret diary of a young lady suffering from postpartum depression and gradually falling into madness. Meanwhile, her husband, “a physician of high standing,” ignores her wishes and treats her as a child who needs mentorship.
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Gilman writes about her painful experience. It was one of the first feministic stories and is still topical nowadays. Below you will find dozens of The Yellow Wallpaper essay topics to boost your writing inspiration.
📌 Top 10 The Yellow Wallpaper Essay Topics
- Can the reader trust the narrator, and why?
- Would the story end differently if the husband agreed to change the wallpaper?
- Is the husband the antagonist in the short story?
- Which stereotypes ruin a woman’s life, according to Gilman?
- Psychology of young mothers: the most controversial issues.
- What would help the narrator recover?
- Imagine what would happen after The Yellow Wallpaper ends.
✅ The Yellow Wallpaper Literary Analysis Essay – Ideas
The Yellow Wallpaper is a “what if” dystopia. The author had experienced the borderline condition and imagined a situation where her symptoms would intensify and develop until the worst possible scenario. Here are the essential analysis points for your essay:
- Jane’s condition does not look alarming at first. Moreover, she spends days chilling at a mansion doing nothing (that would be a dream for many of us). Life in the same room without books, writing, or even socializing for months resembles a prison.
- The protagonist is imprisoned not only within the country mansion. Her marriage contributes to her isolation. The husband (her doctor at the same time) ignores the worsening of her condition. Jane writes in her diary, “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.”
- Jane projects her mental condition onto the yellow wallpaper and gradually starts seeing some girl behind it. She finally tears the wallpaper off the wall to free the girl living there. But the reader understands she was trying to free herself from the oppressive relationship and cruel treatment.
The Yellow Wallpaper essay prompts below will help you understand the author’s message better. They will guide you through feminism, marriage, mental health, and other topics. The Yellow Wallpaper essay questions we’ve listed here are only a tiny part of what you could be asking yourself. We wish you an inspired and rewarding writing session!
📝 The Yellow Wallpaper Essay Prompts
- The yellow wallpaper as a representation of the narrator’s life. The parallel between the wallpaper extensively described in the story and the protagonist’s life and mental state can be linked through the illustration of similarities. Thus, the topic generates opportunities to present the wallpaper as a projection of the protagonist’s life: depressive, outdated, and causing her an immense sense of discomfort.
- Women’s oppression through psychiatric interventions. One of the elements of the story is the narrator’s mental state and the intervention that has been prescribed, involving a lack of physical and intellectual effort and isolation. The topic facilitates a reflection on the systems that were put in place to dismiss women, such as mental health approaches.
- The husband in The Yellow Wallpaper: Villain of a product of society? John is portrayed through first-person descriptions, which implies the readers see him through the eyes of the narrator, who suggests him being a loving and caring husband. The story can be analyzed concerning John as a family member versus John as the representation of men at the time.
- The physical and psychological prison in The Yellow Wallpaper. While the protagonist was confined to one room, is this the only prison she is a prisoner in? Is the room a representation of her life? Feeling trapped was not only associated with the narrator’s experimental conditions but also her mind, a topic that can be expanded further for analysis.
- Postpartum depression in The Yellow Wallpaper. Postpartum depression was not diagnosed with adequate treatment at the time, and the protagonist’s rest cure portrayed the inadequate approach to the issue. This can be analyzed concerning the dismissal of mental health issues in women and the burden of psychological challenges a woman was to overcome on her own.
- Discuss symbols introduced in The Yellow Wallpaper. Many elements presented in the novel act as symbols that help understand the narrative better. Consider the color and pattern of the wallpaper, the mysterious image of a woman, and the room itself. Explain their meaning within the story.
- The association between the author and the narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper. Explore Gilman’s biography and analyze whether her life has connections with the experiences of the story’s main character. In your discussion, consider why the protagonist remains unnamed throughout the novel and why it may be necessary from the feministic viewpoint.
- Identify literary devices in The Yellow Wallpaper and explain their usage. Gilman utilizes several literary devices to accentuate the issues of depression and feminism in the novel. For instance, the author employs repetition to demonstrate the narrator’s confusion. Discuss how each literary device assists in unraveling the meaning of the story.
- Analyze the differences in gender roles in The Yellow Wallpaper. The story’s protagonist is a lady living in a patriarchal society with a husband who does not listen to her needs. Examine how the narrative demonstrates men’s and women’s roles and compare the representation to that of another feminist novel of the same period.
- Explore the main character’s point of view in The Yellow Wallpaper. Despite having some dialogues, the novel is presented from a single person’s perspective in the form of diary entries. Discuss why the author decided not to include other characters’ standpoints and explore the significance of the protagonist being the one to unravel the story.
- Explain your understanding of The Yellow Wallpaper’s ending. The novel is gradually revealed from one character’s perspective, yet the narrator’s identity seems to change toward the finale, which is somewhat perplexing. Identify and quote the exact moment when the main character’s personality transforms and debate potential reasons and the importance of the modification.
- Study the social impact of The Yellow Wallpaper. Gilman’s novel is one of the most prominent literary works that regard feminism and patriarchy. Investigate whether the narrative’s influence on the public’s perception of gender roles has been positive or negative since its publication. Consider lessons that modern-day society can learn from the story.
- Patronizing husband and mental illness in The Yellow Wallpaper. The main character in the novel suffers from postpartum depression and is convinced that her spouse, a physician, can aid her in overcoming the condition. Describe John’s reaction to his wife’s mental wellness and discuss whether his advice was helpful or harmful.
🖊️ The Yellow Wallpaper Literary Analysis Essay Topics
- First-person narration in The Yellow Wallpaper. The Yellow Wallpaper entirely consists of first-person narration from the protagonist’s point of view. The literary element allows the reader to see the events from her perspective and perceive the subjective standpoint of reality in the wife’s imagination. Thus, the story becomes more realistic and generates compassion and realism.
- The Yellow Wallpaper as a partly autobiographical literature work. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote the short story based on her experience with postpartum psychosis. Hence, the mental breakdown illustrated in the literature piece shows the real-life experience of a woman at the time. The parallel between the writer’s life and the story itself gives a basis for a reflective essay.
- The feminist agenda is portrayed in The Yellow Wallpaper. The topic allows for an extensive reflection on women’s issues highlighted in the literature piece, including a lack of freedom, choice, and opportunities. Moreover, the discussion can encompass subjects such as motherhood and family life, as these aspects of womanhood are portrayed from the perspective of a woman’s experience.
- The Yellow Wallpaper in the realm of feminist literature. The Yellow Wallpaper is one of the many feminist literature pieces written at a time when gender inequality would prevent women from having the same opportunities as men. The topic allows for a reflection of feminist literature as a genre, a comparison with other similar stories and novels, and a contrast of various pieces.
- The ending of The Yellow Wallpaper: Mental health decline or psychological escape? The end of the short story is ambiguous. Did the protagonist lose the connection with reality, or did she let go of the psychological boundaries and gives freely in her imagination despite being physically trapped? Examining the ending from two perspectives is an excellent topic for reflection.
🎨 The Yellow Wallpaper Symbolism Essay Topics
- The Problem of Suppressing Women in The Yellow Wallpaper. Are modern attitudes toward women different from those described in the story? Analyze the family relationship between the narrator and her husband. Why does the man treat her like a child? Identify the characteristics of society’s attitudes toward women at that time.
- The abrupt end of The Yellow Wallpaper. What did the author want to convey to the reader? Why did the narrator cut the story short at this point? There are many suggestions for continuing the story. Which one do you think is the most appropriate? Explain your point of view.
- How does the narrator feel about her diary? As you read the story, you can see that the journal helps the narrator get a little relief from her heartache. Analyze the narrator’s attitude toward the diary. Does she use it only because she lacks communication or for other reasons? Argue the answer.
- The Meaning of Yellow Wallpaper in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Story. Why does the author focus so much on describing wallpaper? How does the pattern change as the disease progresses? Analyze the narrator’s attitude toward wallpaper and give examples from the text. Identify what you think the color of the wallpaper symbolizes.
- The yellow wallpaper: What does the narrator’s room symbolize? How does the narrator’s room emphasize her husband’s attitude toward her? Analyze how the narrator describes it and conclude her attitude toward the room. Do you think the narrator is a prisoner or surrounded by her husband’s care and love?
- The Uniqueness of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Story. What distinguishes The Yellow Wallpaper from other nineteenth-century works? Give specific examples of the differences. Does the description of attitudes toward women in The Yellow Wallpaper differ from other stories? Note the problem of the suppression of women and describe it in more detail.
- Problems of 19th-century family life. In your opinion, whether the narrator’s husband is guilty of The Yellow Wallpaper, argue your answer. Why does the narrator not contradict her husband? Explore in more detail the relationship between husband and wife in the 19th century as described in the story.
- Symbols in The Yellow Wallpaper. Do a literary analysis of The Yellow Wallpaper. Why the author uses symbols in work, and how do they affect the reader’s experience? Analyze the main characters in the story and explain them, giving specific examples of the use of these symbols in the story.
- Postpartum depression in The Yellow Wallpaper. How does 19th-century society view women’s problems, and do they take them seriously? Analyze women’s behavior and conclude their condition after childbirth. Do you think women of that time who suffered from postpartum depression were treated incorrectly or vice versa?
- Literary devices used in The Yellow Wallpaper. Analyze the story by giving specific examples of literary devices and explaining their significance. How does the author convey the mood and experiences of the narrator through the use of literary devices? How do these techniques affect the reader, and why are they used?
🔤 The Yellow Wallpaper Theme Essay Topics
- Gender Differences in The Yellow Wallpaper.
- Stigmatization of Mental Illnesses in The Yellow Wallpaper.
- The Yellow Wallpaper: The Exploration of Freedom.
- Identity, Creativity, and Self-Expression in The Yellow Wallpaper.
- Marriage and Family in The Yellow Wallpaper.
- Isolation in Charlotte Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper.
- The Yellow Wallpaper: Madness and Horror.
- A Lack of Communication in The Yellow Wallpaper.
👩 The Yellow Wallpaper Character Analysis Essay Topics
- Analyze John’s role as a patriarchal figure. It is important to note that John is a complex character who cares about the narrator but restricts and confines her to her room. Using his example in The Yellow Wallpaper, explore how patriarchy might not be intentionally oppressive towards women.
- Analyze the relationship dynamic between John and the Narrator. The Yellow Wallpaper provides a highly complex relationship dynamic between the husband and the wife. Use evidence from sources on feminism, patriarchy, and domestic abuse. Assess whether mental health justifies what John does to the Narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper.
- The role of Jennie in the feminist framework. Jennie, John’s sister, demonstrates a form of contentment with the domestic function she performs for the couple. However, it should be noted that she shows care for the narrator. You can refer to sources on Women Against Feminism to analyze how some women also promoted a patriarchal social structure.
- Assess the relationship dynamic between John and Jennie. Jennie, John’s sister, works for him as a housekeeper. Their relationship can be explored based on socioeconomic differences, siblinghood, and gender roles. You can use evidence on gender roles in families to arrive at insightful conclusions.
- Explore how John balances between being a physician and a husband. In The Yellow Wallpaper, John is related to the narrator not only as her husband but also as her physician. You might consider referring to sources on the patriarchal nature of medicine and healthcare establishments in the modern social context.
- The narrator’s socioeconomic status and mental health. The Yellow Wallpaper provides in-depth details on its central characters, such as the narrator being an upper-middle-class woman. Explore how a person’s socioeconomic status affects their ability to deal with mental health using national sources and databases to gain more insight.
- The Narrator and discouragement: a bigger picture. In The Yellow Wallpaper, John constantly discourages the narrator from doing what she desires to do, further constrains her restrictive treatment. Use sources on how self-expression affects one’s identity and reflect on the narrator’s situation, focusing on her self-perception.
- Stigmatization and prejudice in the narrator’s mental illness. The story profoundly explores the main character’s perspective, but how others perceive her mental health, mainly John could use more analysis. The language used to define and describe her problems provides a substantive subject to discuss using historical evidence.
- The effect of the rest cure on the narrator. He justifies confinement, restriction, and isolation imposed by John on the narrator as being a rest cure. Use sources on her possible mental health issue to assess the validity of the rest cure as a treatment and its role in the story.
- Guilt in the relationship dynamic between the Narrator and Jennie. It should be noted that The Yellow Wallpaper focuses on themes of patriarchy and gender roles, and the latter can also have an impact relationship between two women. Explore how gender role expectations invoke guilt in the narrator due to Jennie’s housekeeping abilities.
❓ The Yellow Wallpaper Essay Questions
- Is John truly well-intentioned in his treatment?
- How power imbalance dictates the relationship between John and the Narrator?
- Is John domestically abusing the narrator?
- Is Jennie an antifeminist figure in The Yellow Wallpaper?
- Does Jennie’s contention with housekeeping constitute feminism?
- How does siblinghood change the gender roles between John and Jennie?
- Can gender roles be inherited through John/Jennie’s family values?
- Is the rest cure imposed on the narrator effective?
- How John’s discouragement of writing affects the narrator?
- Are there signs of prejudice against the narrator’s mental state?
- Why does Jennie make the narrator feel guilty?
- Why does the narrator perceive the room to be a nursery?
- What would be the best way to treat the narrator?
- What could John do to the narrator to make her feel better?