The Yellow Wallpaper | Study Guide

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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The Yellow Wallpaper | Section 4 | Summary



The fourth journal entry begins, "I don't know why I should write this. I don't want to. I don't feel able." 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 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, and more substantial, 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 any more—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." She also notices that the shapes look like the figure of a woman, "stooping down and creeping about."


The narrator's journal entries have begun to get fragmented; her sentences are shorter and her thoughts more disjointed. She begins with two very short sentences and moves quickly from her emotions to how she imagines John would react if she were to tell him just how badly she feels, and then tangents to thinking about how John will not let her go visit her cousins.

She's also developed a more secretive way of speaking about her relationship with the others in the house. While she has been hiding her journal and crying for weeks, now she deliberately withholds her ideas on a consistent basis and is more aware of being secretive. This implies that Jennie and John have made the narrator feel uncomfortable when she speaks about the wallpaper, even if it is not shown happening in the story. Again, expression is discouraged and conformity encouraged, so the narrator must hide her true thoughts and feelings from those around her, creating an even unhealthier state of mind. Is she truly crazy, or is she someone who can see and understand more around her than those who choose to live purely rationally and pragmatically?

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