Ep. 3: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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The Yellow Wallpaper
By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

NARRATOR. It is very seldom that mere ordinary people
like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the
summer. A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I
would say a haunted house, and reach the height of
romantic felicity— but that would be asking too much
of fate! Still, I would proudly declare that there is
something queer about it. Else, why should it be let
so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted? John
laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in
marriage. John is practical in the extreme. He has no
patience with faith, an intense horror of
superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of
things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures.
John is a physician, and perhaps (--I would not
say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead
paper and a great relief to my mind) --perhaps that is
one reason I do not get well faster. You see, he does
not believe I am sick! And what can one do? If a
physician of high standing, and one’s own husband,
assures friends and relatives that there is really
nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous
depression— a slight hysterical tendency— what is one
to do? My brother is also a physician, and also of high
standing, and he says the same thing. So, I take
phosphates or phosphites— whichever it is, and tonics,
and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely
forbidden to “work” until I am well again.
Personally, I disagree with their ideas.
Personally, I believe that congenial work, with

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excitement and change, would do me good. But what is
one to do? I did write for a while in spite of them;
but it does exhaust me a good deal— having to be so
sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition. I
sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less
opposition and more society and stimulus— but John says
the very worst thing I can do is to think about my
condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad.
So, I will let it alone and talk about the house.
The most beautiful place! It is quite alone,
standing well back from the road, quite three miles
from the village. It makes me think of English places
that you read about, for there are hedges and walls
and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses
for the gardeners and people. There is a delicious
garden! I never saw such a garden— large and shady,

full of box-bordered paths, and lined with long grape-
covered arbors with seats under them. There were

greenhouses, too, but they are all broken now.
There was some legal trouble, I believe, something
about the heirs and coheirs; anyhow, the place has been
empty for years. That spoils my ghostliness, I am
afraid; but I don’t care— there is something strange
about the house— I can feel it. I even said so to John
one moonlit evening, but he said what I felt was a
draught, and shut the window. I get unreasonably angry
with John sometimes. I’m sure I never used to be so
sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition.
But John says if I feel so, I shall neglect proper
self-control; so, I take pains to control myself,
before him, at least, and that makes me very tired. I
don’t like our room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that
opened on the piazza and had roses all over the window,

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and such pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings! But
John would not hear of it. He said there was only one
window. He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets
me stir without special direction. I have a schedule
prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all
care from me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to
value it more. He said we came here solely on my
account, that I was to have perfect rest and all the
air I could get.

JOHN. Your exercise depends on your strength, my dear,
and your food somewhat on your appetite; but air you
can absorb all the time.

NARRATOR. So, we took the nursery, at the top of the
house. It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly,
with windows that look all ways, and air and sunshine
galore. It was nursery first and then playground and
gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred
for little children, and there are rings and things in
the walls. The paint and paper look as if a boys’
school had used it. It is stripped off— the paper, in
great patches all around the head of my bed, about as
far as I can reach, and in a great place on the other
side of the room low down.
I never saw a worse paper in my life. One of those
sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every
artistic sin. It is dull enough to confuse the eye in
following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate,
and provoke study, and when you follow the lame,
uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly
commit suicide— plunge off at outrageous angles,
destroy themselves in unheard-of contradictions. The

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color is repellant, almost revolting; a smoldering,
unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning
sunlight. It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places,
a sickly sulphur tint in others. No wonder the children
hated it! I should hate it myself if I had to live in
this room long. There comes John, and I must put this
away, —he hates to have me write a word.

•••

We have been here two weeks, and I haven’t felt
like writing before, since that first day. I am sitting
by the window now, up in this atrocious nursery, and
there is nothing to hinder my writing as much as I
please, save lack of strength. John is away all day,
and even some nights when his cases are serious. I am
glad my case is not serious! But these nervous troubles
are dreadfully depressing. John does not know how much
I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer,
and that satisfies him. Of course, it is only
nervousness. It does weigh on me so not to do my duty
in any way! I meant to be such a help to John, such a
real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative
burden already! Nobody would believe what an effort it
is to do what little I am able: to dress and entertain,
and order things.
It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such
a dear baby! And yet I cannot be with him, it makes me
so nervous. I suppose John never was nervous in his
life. He laughs at me so about this wallpaper! At
first, he meant to repaper the room, but afterwards he
said that I was letting it get the better of me, and
that nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to
give way to such fancies. He said that after the
wallpaper was changed it would be the heavy bedstead,

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and then the barred windows, and then that gate at the
head of the stairs.

JOHN. You know the place is doing you good, and really,
dear, I don’t care to renovate the house just for a
three months’ rental.

NARRATOR. “Then do let us go downstairs,” I plead.
There are such pretty rooms there. Then he takes me in
his arms and calls me a blessed little goose, and says
he would go down to the cellar if I wished, and have
it whitewashed into the bargain. But he is right enough
about the beds and windows and things. It is as airy
and comfortable a room as any one need wish, and, of
course, I would not be so silly as to make him
uncomfortable just for a whim. I’m really getting quite
fond of the big room, all but that horrid paper. Out
of one window I can see the garden, those mysterious
deep-shaded arbors, the riotous old-fashioned flowers,
and bushes and gnarly trees. Out of another I get a
lovely view of the bay and a little private wharf
belonging to the estate. There is a beautiful shaded
lane that runs down there from the house. I always
fancy I see people walking in these numerous paths and
arbors, but John has cautioned me not to give way to
fancy in the least. He says that with my imaginative
power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness
like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited
fancies, and that I ought to use my will and good sense
to check the tendency.
So, I try. I think sometimes that if I were only
well enough to write a little, it would relieve the
press of ideas and rest me. But I find I get pretty

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tired when I try. It is so discouraging not to have
any advice and companionship about my work. When I get
really well John says we will ask Cousin Henry and
Julia down for a long visit; but he says he would as
soon put fireworks in my pillowcase as to let me have
those stimulating people about now. I wish I could get
well faster. But I must not think about that. This
paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious
influence it had! There is a recurrent spot where the
pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes
stare at you upside-down. I get positively angry with
the impertinence of it and the everlastingness. Up and
down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd,
unblinking eyes are everywhere.
There is one place where two breadths didn’t match,
and the eyes go all up and down the line, one a little
higher than the other. I never saw so much expression
in an inanimate thing before, and we all know how much
expression they have! I used to lie awake as a child
and get more entertainment and terror out of blank
walls and plain furniture than most children could find
in a toy-store. I remember what a kindly wink the knobs
of our big old bureau used to have, and there was one
chair that always seemed like a strong friend. I used
to feel that if any of the other things looked too
fierce I could always hop into that chair and be safe.
The furniture in this room is no worse than
inharmonious, however, for we had to bring it all from
downstairs. I suppose when this was used as a playroom
they had to take the nursery things out, and no wonder!
I never saw such ravages as the children have made
here. The wallpaper, as I said before, is torn off in

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spots, and it sticketh closer than a brother— they must
have had perseverance as well as hatred.
Then the floor is scratched and gouged and
splintered- the plaster itself is dug out here and
there, and this great heavy bed, which is all we found
in the room, looks as if it had been through the wars.
But I don’t mind it a bit... only the paper.
Here comes John’s sister. Such a dear girl as she
is, and so careful of me! I must not let her find me
writing. She is a perfect, and enthusiastic
housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession. I
verily believe she thinks it is the writing which made
me sick! But I can write when she is out, and see her
a long way off from these windows. There is one that
commands the road, a lovely, shaded, winding road, and
one that just looks off over the country. A lovely
country, too, full of great elms and velvet meadows.
This wallpaper has a kind of sub-pattern in a different
shade, a particularly irritating one, for you can only
see it in certain lights, and not clearly then. But in
the places where it isn’t faded, and where the sun is
just so, I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort
of figure, that seems to sulk about behind that silly
and conspicuous front design. There’s sister on the
stairs!

•••

NARRATOR. Well, the Fourth of July is over! The people
are gone and I am tired out. John thought it might do
me good to see a little company, so we just had mother
and Nellie and the children down for a week. Of course,
I didn’t do a thing. Jennie sees to everything now.
But it tired me all the same. John says if I don’t pick
up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the

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fall. But I don’t want to go there at all. I had a
friend who was in his hands once, and she says he is
just like John and my brother, only more so! Besides,
it is such an undertaking to go so far. I don’t feel
as if it was worthwhile to turn my hand over for
anything, and I’m getting dreadfully fretful and
querulous. I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time.
Of course, I don’t when John is here, or anybody else,
but when I am alone. And I am alone a good deal just
now.
John is kept in town very often by serious cases,
and Jennie is good and lets me alone when I want her
to. So, I walk a little in the garden or down that
lovely lane, sit on the porch under the roses, and lie
down up here a good deal. I’m getting really fond of
the room in spite of the wallpaper. Perhaps because of
the wallpaper. It dwells in my mind so! I lie here on
this great immovable bed— it is nailed down, I believe—
and follow that pattern about by the hour. It is as
good as gymnastics, I assure you.
I start, we’ll say, at the bottom, down in the
corner over there where it has not been touched, and
I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow
that pointless pattern to some sort of a conclusion.
I know a little of the principle of design, and I know
this thing was not arranged on any laws of radiation,
or alternation, or repetition, or symmetry, or
anything else that I have ever heard of. It is
repeated, of course, by the breadths, but not
otherwise.
Looked at in one way, each breadth stands alone,
the bloated curves and flourishes— a kind of “debased
Romanesque” with delirium tremens— go waddling up and

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down in isolated columns of fatuity. But on the other
hand, they connect diagonally, and the sprawling
outlines run off in great slanting waves of optic
horror, like a lot of wallowing seaweeds in full chase.
The whole thing goes horizontally, too, at least it
seems so, and I exhaust myself in trying to distinguish
the order of its going in that direction. They have
used a horizontal breadth for a frieze, and that adds
wonderfully to the confusion. There is one end of the
room where it is almost intact, and there, when the
cross-lights fade and the low sun shines directly upon
it, I can almost fancy radiation after all; the
interminable grotesques seem to form around a common
center and rush off in headlong plunges of equal
distraction. It makes me tired to follow it.

I don’t know why I should write this. I don’t want
to. I don’t feel able. And I know John would think it
absurd. But I must say what I feel and think in some
way: it is such a relief! But the effort is getting to
be greater than the relief. Half the time now I am
awfully lazy, and lie down ever so much. John says I
mustn’t lose my strength, and has me take cod-liver
oil and lots of tonics and things, to say nothing of
ale and wine and rare meat.
Dear John! He loves me very dearly, and hates to
have me sick. I tried to have a real earnest reasonable
talk with him the other day, and tell him how I wish
he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry
and Julia. But he said I wasn’t able to go, nor able
to stand it after I got there; and I did not make out
a very good case for myself, for I was crying before
I had finished. It is getting to be a great effort for

10
me to think straight. Just this nervous weakness, I
suppose. And dear John gathered me up in his arms, and
just carried me upstairs and laid me on the bed, and
sat by me and read to me till it tired my head. He
said I was his darling and his comfort and all he had,
and that I must take care of myself for his sake, and
keep well. He says no one but myself can help me out
of it, that I must use my will and self-control and
not let any silly fancies run away with me.
There’s one comfort: the baby is well and happy,
and does not have to occupy this nursery with the
horrid wallpaper. If we had not used it, that blessed
child would have! What a fortunate escape! Why, I
wouldn’t have a child of mine, an impressionable little
thing, live in such a room for worlds. I never thought
of it before, but it is lucky that John kept me here
after all. I can stand it so much easier than a baby,
you see. Of course, I never mention it to them anymore
—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. Behind that outside pattern the dim
shapes get clearer every day. It is always the same
shape, only very numerous. And it is like a woman
stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern.
I don’t like it a bit. I wonder— I begin to think— I
wish John would take me away from here!

It is so hard to talk with John about my case,
because he is so wise, and because he loves me so. But
I tried it last night. It was moonlight. The moon
shines in all around, just as the sun does. I hate to
see it sometimes, it creeps so slowly, and always comes
in by one window or another. John was asleep and I

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hated to waken him, so I kept still and watched the
moonlight on that undulating wallpaper till I felt
creepy. The faint figure behind seemed to shake the
pattern, just as if she wanted to get out. I got up
softly and went to feel and see if the paper did move,
and when I came back John was awake.

JOHN. What is it, little girl? Don’t go walking about
like that— you’ll get cold.

NARRATOR. I thought it was a good time to talk, so I
told him that I really was not gaining here, and that
I wished he would take me away.

JOHN. Why darling! Our lease will be up in three weeks,
and I can’t see how to leave before. The repairs are
not done at home, and I cannot possibly leave town just
now. Of course, if you were in any danger I could and
would, but you really are better, dear, whether you
can see it or not. I am a doctor, dear, and I know.
You are gaining flesh and color; your appetite is
better. I feel really much easier about you.

NARRATOR. I don’t weigh a bit more, nor as much; and
my appetite may be better in the evening, when you are
here, but it is worse in the morning when you are away.

JOHN. Bless your little heart! She shall be as sick as
she pleases! But now let’s improve the shining hours
by going to sleep, and talk about it in the morning!

NARRATOR. And you won’t go away?

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JOHN. Why, how can I, dear? It is only three weeks more
and then we will take a nice little trip of a few days
while Jennie is getting the house ready. Really, dear,
you are better!

NARRATOR. “Better in body perhaps,” I began, and
stopped short, for he sat up straight and looked at me
with such a stern, reproachful look that I could not
say another word.

JOHN. My darling, I beg of you, for my sake and for
our child’s sake, as well as for your own, that you
will never for one instant let that idea enter your
mind! There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating,
to a temperament like yours. It is a false and foolish
fancy. Can you not trust me as a physician when I tell
you so?

NARRATOR. So of course, I said no more on that score,
and we went to sleep before long. He thought I was
asleep first, but I wasn’t. I lay there for hours
trying to decide whether that front pattern and the
back pattern really did move together or separately.
On a pattern like this, by daylight, there is a lack
of sequence, a defiance of law, that is a constant
irritant to a normal mind. The color is hideous enough,
and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the
pattern is torturing. You think you have mastered it,
but just as you get well under way in following, it
turns a back somersault and there you are. It slaps
you in the face, and tramples upon you. It is like a
bad dream. The outside pattern is a florid arabesque,
reminding one of a fungus. If you can imagine a

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toadstool in joints, an interminable string of
toadstools, budding and sprouting in endless
convolutions, that is something like it. That is,
sometimes!
There is one marked peculiarity about this paper,
a thing nobody seems to notice but myself, and that is
that it changes as the light changes. When the sun
shoots in through the east window— I always watch for
that first long, straight ray— it changes so quickly
that I never can quite believe it. That is why I watch
it always. By moonlight I wouldn’t know it was the same
paper. At night in any kind of light, in twilight,
candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight,
it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the
woman behind it is as plain as can be. I didn’t realize
for a long time what the thing was that showed behind
that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a
woman.
By daylight she is subdued, quiet. I fancy it is
the pattern that keeps her so still. It is so puzzling.
It keeps me quiet by the hour. I lie down ever so much
now. John says it is good for me, and to sleep all I
can. Indeed, he started the habit by making me lie down
for an hour after each meal. It is a very bad habit,
I am convinced, for, you see, I don’t sleep. And that
cultivates deceit, for I don’t tell them I’m awake,
oh, no!
The fact is, I am getting a little afraid of John.
He seems very queer sometimes, and even Jennie has an
inexplicable look. It strikes me occasionally, just as
a scientific hypothesis, that perhaps it is the paper!
I have watched John when he did not know I was looking,
and come into the room suddenly on the most innocent

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excuses, and I’ve caught him several times looking at
the paper! And Jennie too. I caught Jennie with her
hand on it once. She didn’t know I was in the room,
and when I asked her in a quiet, a very quiet voice,
with the most restrained manner possible, what she was
doing with the paper she turned around as if she had
been caught stealing. And looking quite angry, she
asked me why I should frighten her so! Then she said
that the paper stained everything it touched, that she
had found yellow smutches on all my clothes and John’s,
and she wished we would be more careful! Did not that
sound innocent? But I know she was studying that
pattern, and I am determined that nobody shall find it
out but myself!

•••

Life is very much more exciting now than it used to
be. You see I have something more to expect, to look
forward to, to watch. I really do eat better, and am
more quiet than I was. John is so pleased to see me
improve! He laughed a little the other day, and said
I seemed to be flourishing in spite of my wallpaper.
I turned it off with a laugh. I had no intention of
telling him it was because of the wallpaper— he would
make fun of me. He might even want to take me away. I
don’t want to leave now until I have found it out.
There is a week more, and I think that will be enough.

•••

I’m feeling ever so much better! I don’t sleep much
at night, for it is so interesting to watch
developments; but I sleep a good deal in the daytime.
In the daytime it is tiresome and perplexing. There
are always new shoots on the fungus, and new shades of

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yellow all over it. I cannot keep count of them, though
I have tried conscientiously. It is the strangest
yellow, that wallpaper! It makes me think of all the
yellow things I ever saw— not beautiful ones like
buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things. But there
is something else about that paper— the smell! I
noticed it the moment we came into the room, but with
so much air and sun it was not bad. Now we have had a
week of fog and rain, and whether the windows are open
or not, the smell is here. It creeps all over the
house. I find it hovering in the dining-room, skulking
in the parlor, hiding in the hall, lying in wait for
me on the stairs. It gets into my hair. Even when I go
to ride, if I turn my head suddenly and surprise it—
there is that smell!
Such a peculiar odor, too! I have spent hours in
trying to analyze it, to find what it smelled like. It
is not bad... at first— and very gentle— but quite the
subtlest, most enduring odor I ever met. In this damp
weather it is awful. I wake up in the night and find
it hanging over me. It used to disturb me at first. I
thought seriously of burning the house to reach the
smell. But now I am used to it. The only thing I can
think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A
yellow smell.
There is a very funny mark on this wall, low down,
near the mopboard. A streak that runs ‘round the room.
It goes behind every piece of furniture, except the
bed, a long, straight, even smutch, as if it had been
rubbed over and over. I wonder how it was done and who
did it, and what they did it for. Round and round and
round— round and round and round— it makes me dizzy!

•••

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I really have discovered something at last. Through
watching so much at night, when it changes so, I have
finally found out. The front pattern does move— and no
wonder! The woman behind shakes it! Sometimes I think
there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only
one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling
shakes it all over. Then in the very bright spots she
keeps still, and in the very shady spots she just takes
hold of the bars and shakes them hard. And she is all
the time trying to climb through. But nobody could
climb through that pattern— it strangles so; I think
that is why it has so many heads. They get through,
and then the pattern strangles them off and turns them
upside-down, and makes their eyes white! If those heads
were covered or taken off it would not be half so bad.

•••

I think that woman gets out in the daytime! And
I’ll tell you why: (privately) I’ve seen her! I can
see her out of every one of my windows! It is the same
woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most
women do not creep by daylight. I see her on that long
shaded lane, creeping up and down. I see her in those
dark grape arbors, creeping all around the garden. I
see her on that long road under the trees, creeping
along, and when a carriage comes, she hides under the
blackberry vines. I don’t blame her a bit. It must be
very humiliating to be caught creeping by daylight! I
always lock the door when I creep by daylight. I can’t
do it at night, for I know John would suspect something
at once. And John is so queer now, that I don’t want
to irritate him. I wish he would take another room!
Besides, I don’t want anybody to get that woman out at
night but myself. I often wonder if I could see her

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out of all the windows at once. But, turn as fast as
I can, I can only see out of one at one time. And
though I always see her, she may be able to creep
faster than I can turn! I have watched her sometimes
away off in the open country, creeping as fast as a
cloud shadow in a high wind.
If only that top pattern could be gotten off from
the under one! I mean to try it, little by little. I
have found out another funny thing, but I shan’t tell
it this time! It does not do to trust people too much.
There are only two more days to get this paper off,
and I believe John is beginning to notice. I don’t like
the look in his eyes. And I heard him ask Jennie a lot
of professional questions about me. She had a very good
report to give. She said I slept a good deal in the
daytime. John knows I don’t sleep very well at night;
for all, I’m so quiet! He asked me all sorts of
questions, too, and pretended to be very loving and
kind. As if I couldn’t see through him! Still, I don’t
wonder he acts so, sleeping under this paper for three
months. It only interests me, but I feel sure John and
Jennie are secretly affected by it.

•••

Hurrah! This is the last day, but it is enough. John
is to stay in town overnight, and won’t be out until
this evening. Jennie wanted to sleep with me— the sly
thing- but I told her I should undoubtedly rest better
for a night all alone. That was clever, for really, I
wasn’t alone a bit! As soon as it was moonlight, and
that poor thing began to crawl and shake the pattern,
I got up and ran to help her. I pulled and she shook,
I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had
peeled off yards of that paper. A strip about as high

18
as my head and half around the room. And then when the
sun came and that awful pattern began to laugh at me
I declared I would finish it today!
We go away tomorrow, and they are moving all my
furniture down again to leave things as they were
before. Jennie looked at the wall in amazement, but I
told her merrily that I did it out of pure spite at
the vicious thing. She laughed and said she wouldn’t
mind doing it herself, but I must not get tired. How
she betrayed herself that time! But I am here, and no
person touches this paper but me— not alive! She tried
to get me out of the room, but I said it was so quiet
and empty and clean now that I believed I would lie
down again and sleep all I could; and not to wake me
even for dinner— I would call when I woke. So now she
is gone, and the servants are gone, and the things are
gone, and there is nothing left but that great bedstead
nailed down, with the canvas mattress we found on it.
We shall sleep downstairs tonight, and take the
boat home tomorrow. I quite enjoy the room, now it is
bare again. How those children did tear about here!
This bedstead is fairly gnawed! But I must get to work.
I have locked the door and thrown the key down into
the front path. I don’t want to go out, and I don’t
want to have anybody come in, till John comes. I want
to astonish him. I’ve got a rope up here that even
Jennie did not find. If that woman does get out, and
tries to get away, I can tie her! But I forgot I could
not reach far without anything to stand on! This bed
will not move! I tried to lift and push it until I was
lame, and then I got so angry I bit off a little piece
at one corner— but it hurt my teeth. Then I peeled off
all the paper I could reach standing on the floor. It

19
sticks horribly and the pattern just enjoys it! All
those strangled heads and bulbous eyes and waddling
fungus growths just shriek with derision! I am getting
angry enough to do something desperate. To jump out of
the window would be admirable exercise, but the bars
are too strong even to try. Besides I wouldn’t do it.
Of course not. I know well enough that a step like that
is improper and might be misconstrued. I don’t like to
look out of the windows. Even, there are so many of
those creeping women, and they creep so fast. I wonder
if they all come out of that wallpaper as I did? But
I am securely fastened now by my well-hidden rope. I
suppose I shall have to get back behind the pattern
when it comes night, and that is hard! It is so
pleasant to be out in this great room and creep around
as I please! I don’t want to go outside. I won’t, even
if Jennie asks me to. For outside you have to creep on
the ground, and everything is green instead of yellow.
But here I can creep smoothly on the floor, and my
shoulder just fits in that long smutch around the wall,
so I cannot lose my way. Why, there’s John at the door!
It is no use, young man, you can’t open it! How he does
call and pound! John, dear! The key is down by the
front steps, under the plantain leaf! ...That silenced
him for a few moments. Then he said— very quietly
indeed,

JOHN. Open the door, my darling!

NARRATOR. I can’t. The key is down by the front door
under a plantain leaf!

20
NARRATOR. And then I said it again, several times, very
gently and slowly, and said it so often that he had to
go and see, and he got it, of course, and came in. He
stopped short by the door.

JOHN. What is the matter? For God’s sake, what are you
doing!

NARRATOR. I kept on creeping just the same, but I
looked at him over my shoulder. “I’ve got out at last
in spite of you! And I’ve pulled off most of the paper,
so you can’t put me back!” Now why should that man have
fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the
wall, so that I had to creep over him every time.

The country, summertime: Physician John thinks the fresh air will help his ailing wife. He tells her not to write, so, naturally she documents everything about the estate: the garden, the house’s history, her husband… and the bedroom wallpaper.

Cast (in speaking order):

  • JESSICA CHASTAIN as The Narrator
  • MICHAEL URIE as John
  • with SAM TSOUTSOUVAS, the voice of RPR

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