Moving Wallpaper

LADAWN: I get so many compliments on this room.
LORELAI: Yeah, are [the flowers on the wallpaper] moving?
LADAWN: It looks like it, doesn’t it? There’s foil in the paper and it gives it that illusion. Isn’t it terrific?

A possible allusion to the 1892 short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. In the story, a woman is sent by her husband for a “rest cure” after suffering postnatal depression. It gradually becomes apparent that the woman is actually imprisoned in a single room, and as her mental state deteriorates, she begins to believe the pattern on the yellow wallpaper is changing and mutating. It is based on Gilman’s own experience, who was forbidden to read or work after suffering what was then called “nervous depression” after giving birth (she got better after eventually ignoring this medical advice).

Reader Stina Töyrä has pointed out the many connections this story has to Lorelai and her situation. Charlotte Perkins Gilman was from Hartford, the grand-niece of Harriet Beecher Stowe, and her surname is similar to Gilmore. The wallpaper at the Cheshire Cat is a creamy yellow colour, and is apparently designed to give the illusion of a moving, changing pattern. The next morning, Lorelai is convinced that the flowers have become taller, and that there are more of them than the night before. Furthermore, as with the woman in the story, Lorelai is mysteriously unable to leave her room at the B&B.

The allusion to the story would provide another example of Lorelai feeling trapped by her situation, and seeing marriage to Max as an imprisonment. Interestingly, it also hints that she may feel that her child has been the catalyst for this, as in the story it is brought on by giving birth. It may be that Lorelai would never have become engaged to Max so quickly if she didn’t have Rory to consider, and that on some level she (unfairly) blames Rory for the mess she’s in.

Thanks to Stina for making this suggestion!

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