The wallpaper story symbolizes several issues within the society concerning the domination of women by men in the 19th century. There are many symbols within the story representing men’s oppression of women as well as their suffering that continues to be witnessed even in the 20th and 21st century. The main symbols in the story are three, the yellow wallpaper itself, both windows and the sickness the woman is suffering from, which are used through out the story. The yellow wallpaper itself represents the mental restriction placed on women by men in the 19th century. The narrator describes the yellow wallpaper as the worst paper she has ever seen in her life, describing the color as hideous, infuriating and unreliable while the pattern is torturing. This represented the restrictions placed on women by men, describing how the women felt about them and how torturing they are. She further states that her husband and brother do not allow her to do any work, representing how the men restricted women from intellectual work, considering she was a writer. Additionally, she talks about her opinion on what is good for her while the men impose on her what they feel is right, denying her any chance to do what she feel is good for her situation.
The sickness the woman or narrator is suffering from is a symbol representing the male oppression on women as well. While she feels and says that she is ill, the husband and the brother who are both physicians assure that nothing is wrong with her. This symbolizes how the men would ignore the opinion of women even on matters concerning them. She states that if she had little opposition while society and stimulus would be more, she would be better. However, the husband differs and says that the worst thing she could do is think about her situation. In this essence, women were not allowed to think about their situation within the society. This shows how the men restricted women from trying to fight for their equality in the society. Rather, they were supposed to remain within the restricting domain as inferior beings without any complaints. In one of the statements, she says that this made her feel bed, which described women who believed men were superior while women were supposed to remain their subordinates. The sickness represents the suffering and oppression women go through in the hands of men. This shows how she acts like a robot.
The wallpaper symbolism is also depicted in the two windows through which the woman views the outside world although she is not in it. This represents the female sex and their possibilities or abilities that were limited by the men. In one statement, she describes a view where she sees a lovely view the bay and a private wharf that belongs to the state. In this the by means the unexploited territory of women, whose abilities have not been exploited while the private wharfs represents those areas where women are restricted. She contemplated suicide severally. She further describes people walking on numerous paths and arbors. This representing the idea that women see men do things, which they as well could do the same way as men. This meant that men considered women incapable of many things because they viewed women as weaker compared to men. All this is viewed through the two windows, representing the abilities of women that are ignored by men. Through the windows, the narrator shows that the abilities of women as vast and diverse as those of men within all areas of work. This served to show that women were equal to men only that men restricted women on the notion of being weak.