“Creeping” in Charlotte P. Gilman’s tale symbolizes the fight of women to break free from domestic imprisonment. The term is used frequently in the text. It contributes to the disturbing atmosphere that envelops a woman who has become a victim of domestic abuse.
The story’s narrator hallucinates, seeing a woman hiding behind the wallpaper in her room. It appears to her that the woman is trapped within the striped designs on the wall. The narrative comes to an end when the main character rips down the wallpaper to set free the captive. The reader now understands that the mysterious lady is symbolizing him or herself.
The young mother is not permitted to work. She is affected by her husband’s and his sister’s restrictions greatly. She is expected to live up to societal norms and be docile. The woman spends all of her time eating and sleeping. Because she is not allowed to write, she hides a pen and paper from her family. Her use of language creates an ambiance of despair around her.
The term “creep” here has two meanings. On the one hand, it conveys a sense of creepiness to the reader. On the other hand, it represents women who must “creep over” their plans, emotions, and goals in order to satisfy their husbands. Finally, the author allows her protagonist to crawl across her husband’s body and escape physically and metaphorically. The novel explores how society’s burning issue – that women are imprisoned at home – affects individuals.
The narrator accomplished ripping off enough of the wallpaper in the tale’s final scene, just before John exposes her room so that the woman she saw inside is now free—and the two women have become one. This section marks the point of complete identification for both narrator and reader when she recognizes her connection with her mother, which has previously been dismissed by herself.
The woman behind the pattern was an image of herself—she had been “creeping and stooping.” She knows that there are many more women just like her, so many that she is scared to look at them.
The question she poses is important and complex: were they all forced to endure what I endured? Were they all imprisoned in houses that were, in reality, prisons? Did they all have to demolish their lives from the ground in order for liberty to blossom? Unable to respond to these questions, the narrator leaves them for another woman – or the reader – to consider.