The Yellow Wallpaper: Characters

This article by Custom-Writing.org experts contains all the information about The Yellow Wallpaper’s characters: the narrator, John, Mary, and Jennie. At the end of the article, you’ll learn who Jane in The Yellow Wallpaper is. 

🗺️ The Yellow Wallpaper: Character Map

Below you’ll find a character map of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

The picture contains a character map for The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

💬 Yellow Wallpaper’s Narrator

The anonymous figure is placed at the top of the characters list because she is the short story’s narrator.

We can tell that the narrator is from the upper-middle class. Her family can afford such a house, but she’s still surprised how. Not so long after giving birth, she seems to have postpartum depression.

Despite a slight hint on her real name at the end of the story, discussions considering this question are still intense. To learn more about it, check out the next page.

John, her husband, rents a country house for the summer. According to him, it is supposed to help her heal. The primary treatment method he uses is the “rest cure.” Moreover, she is not allowed to perform any intellectual activity.

However, she secretly keeps a diary where she writes down her thoughts and events. We can suggest that previously she had been a writer of some kind. The narrator possesses a very developed imagination and creative writing skills.

With each day, her depression is getting worse and worse. Finally, it reaches the culmination at the end of Gilman’s story, when she suffers a major breakdown. 

What Is the Narrator’s Name in The Yellow Wallpaper?

In The Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator doesn’t uncover her name until the very end. It’s Jane. However, we can’t even say that it is she who points out the name. The wallpaper woman’s character suppresses her true self. It is a complex topic. 

The Yellow Wallpaper: Narrator’s Quotes

John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him. Of course it is only nervousness.

The Yellow Wallpaper, entry 2

This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had! There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside-down. I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness.

The Yellow Wallpaper, entry 2

The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out. I got up softly and went to feel and see if the paper did move, and when I came back John was awake.

The Yellow Wallpaper, entry 5

I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you and Jane! And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!

The Yellow Wallpaper, entry 11

👨‍⚕️ John in The Yellow Wallpaper

Sometimes you might start wondering who John is in The Yellow Wallpaper and what role he plays there.

John is one of the characters in The Yellow Wallpaper. He directly affects the mental health of the narrator. Since he is a physician, he decides to take charge of her treatment plan.

Despite probably being a good professional, he completely ignores the needs of his wife. Every time she complains about something, John only tells her to stop being so picky. He mainly treats the narrator more like a child and not his wife, calling her a “little girl.”

Moreover, this issue is deeply connected to the gender roles theme. Here, however, we can highlight how patronizing John is of his wife, which is also related to the issue of feminism.

He appears to be so sure in his treatment plan that he neglects the narrator’s opinion. In turn, it contributes to the development of her mental illness. She starts with distrust towards him and hiding her feelings.

Eventually, his negligence results in the narrator’s complete breakdown. John’s treatment goes wrong as his wife becomes nothing more than a patient to him. However, it appears that it is not intentional. He loves her and wants the best for her, but he doesn’t understand her needs.

The Yellow Wallpaper: John’s Quotes

What is it, little girl?” he said. “Don’t go walking about like that—you’ll get cold.

The Yellow Wallpaper, entry 5

Bless her little heart!” said he with a big hug; “she shall be as sick as she pleases! But now let’s improve the shining hours by going to sleep, and talk about it in the morning!

The Yellow Wallpaper, entry 5

My darling… There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a temperament like yours. It is a false and foolish fancy. Can you not trust me as a physician when I tell you so?

The Yellow Wallpaper, entry 5

👩‍⚕️ Mary in The Yellow Wallpaper

In The Yellow Wallpaper, Mary doesn’t seem to play any particular role. However, the significance of the character is underestimated sometimes. The narrator mentions how great Mary is with her child. The readers feel relieved because she can take care of the little girl after the young mother’s health is too unstable.

👩 Jennie in The Yellow Wallpaper

In The Yellow Wallpaper, Jennie, John’s sister, serves as a housekeeper for the family. Moreover, sometimes she helps to take care of the narrator. Genuinely worried about the health of John’s wife, she notices the change in her. However, the narrator only sees a competitor in her – Jennie seems to be a perfect woman. 

❓ Who Is Jane in The Yellow Wallpaper?

The opinions on who Jane is in The Yellow Wallpaper is are very different. It is not entirely wrong to think that the narrator is Jane. Her words at the end of the story might confirm this. When the woman’s false identity from the wallpaper takes over, she says that she is free despite John “and Jane.” 

The idea is that the narrator starts identifying herself with that mysterious figure. She can no longer tell the difference between her real self and the imaginary woman.

On the other hand, there is a suggestion that the narrator made a typo and wrote Jane instead of Jennie. If we think about her as a woman from the wallpaper, this is entirely possible. She does not participate in their daily life much, and therefore she may have made a mistake.

In this way, the narrator would be talking about her escape from John’s dominance. Both John and his sister are trying to control her, so this interpretation makes some sense.

However, critics often argue against this assumption. Since the two persons are now merged inside the narrator, it would not be entirely correct to say that Jennie is the one who imprisoned the woman.

We hope that the above analysis of The Yellow Wallpaper’s characters is useful. If you want to be aware of the true meaning of the story, you should check out The Yellow Wallpaper summary and analysis sections. And if you’re looking for exciting essay ideas on the story, please read this article

🔗 References

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