'The Yellow Wallpaper' Questions for Study

The Yellow Wallpaper
The Yellow Wallpaper. Dover

"The Yellow Wallpaper" Questions for Study and Discussion:

The Yellow Wallpaper is the most famous work by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. She also wrote about why she created this short work in Why I Wrote 'The Yellow Wallpaper .Students often are asked to read this story in Literature classes--the description is compelling, and the storyline is unforgettable. Here are a few questions for study and discussion related to this famous work.

  • What is important about the title, The Yellow Wallpaper?
  • Could the wallpaper have been any other color? How would a change in color have changed the story? How does the color "yellow" affect you? Do you like (or dislike) it? What are the psychological implications of the color "yellow"? How would a different color change the story?
  • How does the narrator's description of the wallpaper change over time? How is the wallpaper representative of the domestic sphere?
  • Could the story have taken place in a different place (or at a different time)? Why does the narrator live in a "colonial mansion"? What does the setting mean? Is it important?
  • Why does Charlotte Perkins Gilman change the point of view? Is it an effective technique?
  • Why does the narrator say: "what can one do?"? How does that statement represent her state of mind?
  • Why do you think Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote The Yellow Wallpaper? Historically, the story was based on personal experience (autobiographical)--how effectively does Gilman employ the events of her life to create this work of literature?
  • What are the conflicts in The Yellow Wallpaper? What types of conflict (physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional) did you notice? Is the conflict resolved?
  • How does Charlotte Perkins Gilman reveal character in The Yellow Wallpaper?
  • Do you care about the characters? Do you like (or dislike) them? How real (or well-developed) do they seem to you?
  • What are some themes in The Yellow Wallpaper? Symbols? How do they relate to the plot and characters?
  • Does The Yellow Wallpaper end the way you expected? Did you expect a longer (or more involved narrative)? How? Why?
  • What is the central/primary purpose of The Yellow Wallpaper? Is the purpose important or meaningful?
  • What is the role of women in the text? How are mothers represented? What about single/independent women? What is important about women--in the historical context?
  • How does the narrator's relationship with her husband evolve/change? Does her mental state improve or worsen?
  • Compare the main character in The Yellow Wallpaper with the mad woman in the attic (from Jane Eyre). What does love have to do with it? What about mental illness?
  • Compare the narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper with Edna in The Awakening. Is the narrator suicidal?
  • Compare the narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper with Susan from Doris Lessing's "To Room 19." Is the narrator suicidal?
  • Compare the narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper with the narrator from Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway. Why is the party so important?
  • Would you recommend The Yellow Wallpaper to a friend? Why? Why not?
  • What did you enjoy (or hate) most about The Yellow Wallpaper? Why?
  • Why is The Yellow Wallpaper sometimes considered essential reading in Feminist Literature? What are the qualities that make it representative?
  • How does The Yellow Wallpaper fit in with the other known works of literature by Charlotte Perkins Gilman?

Study Guide