Who is Jane in the Yellow Wallpaper?
The most common theory is that Jane is the name of the unnamed protagonist. She is also the narrator in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. Gilman uses an unreliable narrator to signify her character’s rapid mental health decline. Her rejection of herself and the social norms are shown through “Jane.”
The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story by Gilman. It tells about a woman who is suffering from a mental illness, most likely postpartum depression. Her husband imposes a rest cure on her and imprisons her in an upstairs room. The character’s mental state slowly begins to worsen. This causes her to believe that there is a woman stuck in the room’s wallpaper. When the husband finally comes to check up on her, he sees the striped wallpaper and his wife being manic. She exclaims: “I’ve got out at last, in spite of you and Jane.”
This was the first time Jane was mentioned in the story, and it is unclear who the name refers to. A popular version is that Jane is the unnamed narrator who also is the story’s protagonist. The longer the character spends in her room, the further she dissociates from reality. The woman begins associating herself with the imaginary lady trapped in the wallpaper. This identification can be seen as her attempt to free herself from her husband’s oppression. It hints at the feminist themes of the novel.
Additionally, it can be seen as the character’s separation from the self. She rejects her previous identity and the imposed social roles. The act of psychological freeing manifests itself as the physical action of scratching the wallpaper. It signifies its brutality and hardship. Potentially, Jane is the name of the old self of the character. The character remains unnamed all the story. With her final exclamation, she signals that to the readers. At last, she is free from her self-imposed prison, her husband, and the society at large.