In the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gillman, symbolism plays a large factor. The narrator uses the wallpaper in her room to represent herself. .
In the story the woman is suffering from Post-Pardom Depression following the birth of her son. Her husband, John, is a doctor and he feels that nothing is wrong with her. He brings her to an old house in the country and prescribes that she do hardly anything but rest. The narrator loves to write, but this enjoyable task is forbidden to her by her husband. John does nothing short of confining the narrator to an upstairs nursery that has been transformed into a bedroom. The narrator complains adamantly about the wallpaper in the room. John refuses to change the paper, citing that it only fuels her condition by giving into the fancies in her head. Upon being forced to contend with this paper the narrator begins to study it. She finds the pattern to be very askewer. At first she hates it because it lacks definition and is, in her eyes, an horrid yellow color. As time goes on she begins to depend on the wallpaper to, in essence, keep her sanity. .
The wallpaper symbolizes this woman's mind. As the pattern jumps all over the wall, the woman's mind jumps in all directions. Towards the end of the story the narrator recognizes a woman trapped behind the paper. This represents herself. With her prescription of constant rest, the woman is simply trapped within her own mind. She is torn with wanting to feel better, and obeying her husbands orders. The narrator finally sees the woman behind the paper shaking it and creeping around. This symbolizes the narrator's internal fight. She wants out of the confines of her own mind and situation. .
At the end of the story the narrator tears down the paper and creeps around on the floor. This is the most powerful symbol in the story. By tearing down the paper, the woman has finally broken free of her confines.