point of viewAs the main character’s fictional journal, the story is told in strictfirst-person narration, focusing exclusively on her own thoughts, feelings, andperceptions. Everything that we learn or see in the story is filtered throughthe narrator’s shifting consciousness, and since the narrator goes insane overthe course of the story, her perception of reality is often completely at oddswith that of the other characters.

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toneThe narrator is in a state of anxiety for much of the story, withflashes of sarcasm, anger, and desperation—a tone Gilman wants the reader toshare.

tenseThe story stays close to the narrator’s thoughts at the moment and isthus mostly in the present tense.

setting (time)Late nineteenth century

setting (place)America, in a large summer home (or possibly an old asylum), primarilyin one bedroom within the house.

protagonistThe narrator, a young upper-middle-class woman who is suffering fromwhat is most likely postpartum depression and whose illness gives her insightinto her (and other women’s) situation in society and in marriage, even as thetreatment she undergoes robs her of her sanity.

major conflictThe struggle between the narrator and her husband, who is also herdoctor, over the nature and treatment of her illness leads to a conflict withinthe narrator’s mind between her growing understanding of her own powerlessnessand her desire to repress this awareness.

rising actionThe narrator decides to keep a secret journal, in which she describesher forced passivity and expresses her dislike for her bedroom wallpaper, adislike that gradually intensifies into obsession.

climaxThe narrator completely identifies herself with the woman imprisoned inthe wallpaper.

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falling actionThe narrator, now completely identified with the woman in thewallpaper,spends her time crawling on all fours around the room. Her husbanddiscovers her and collapses in shock, and she keeps crawling, right over hisfallen body.

themesThe subordination of women in marriage; the importance ofself-expression; the evils of the “Resting Cure”

motifsIrony; the journal

symbolsThe wallpaper

foreshadowingThe discovery of the teeth marks on the bedstead foreshadows thenarrator’s own insanity and suggests the narrator is not revealing everythingabout her behavior; the first use of the word “creepy” foreshadows theincreasing desperation of the narrator’s situation and her own eventual“creeping.”