The Yellow Wallpaper: Entry 5
It is a week before their departure and the Narrator is feeling much better now that she has a project. John has noticed that she eats better and is much quieter and he takes these as positive signs. He casually remarks that she is improving despite “her wallpaper”. The Narrator laughs off this reference to what she knows to be the sole cause for her improvement. She is optimistic that the week left to her will be enough to find out the wallpaper’s secret. The pattern confuses everything during the day. Beside the yellow color, which she characterizes as reminiscent of every “foul, bad” yellow thing she has ever seen there is the matter of the smell which has infused everything. She confesses to her journal that she once considered burning the house to get rid of the smell but over time she has become used to it. Recently she has also noticed a funny mark, a “smooch”, near the bottom of the walls in her room. The mark goes all around the walls near the baseboard and behind all the furniture except the bed. She tries to figure out what it is, who did it and why? It makes her dizzy following it around the room with her eyes. So she sleeps during the day and at night she watches the paper. The front pattern moves at night because the women crouching in the sub-pattern shake it as they move around. The Narrator has observes that when the women reach a dark spot they try to squeeze through the pattern but they can only get their heads through and are turned upside down with their eyes bulging out white.
Analysis – Entry Five
The Narrator has now completely given into the needs of her imagination and feels stronger and happier for it. Her physician/husband misreads her condition entirely and continues to believe she is improving. Far from it, the power of the wallpaper has come to subsume all her sense including that of smell. More importantly, she has begun to identify with the figures she sees trapped in its pattern. Just as she has separated her restrictive outer conditions from her free-ranging inner life she has separated the wallpaper into its deplorable outer pattern that restrains the poor women in the sub-pattern trying but failing to escape. The “smooch” on the wall which, like the pattern on the paper makes her dizzy, will figure prominently later in the story when it becomes apparent that the Narrator’s sanity, and her reliability as a recorder of events, has been seriously compromised well before the conclusion of the tale.