There’s so much ambiguity surrounding The Yellow Wallpaper; so many possible interpretations of this work that is steeped in symbolism. One of the most prominent questions would be ‘Who is Jane?’

Is she a typo? This is plausible considering the name is similar enough to Jennie. While such an error should have been caught by the copy editor in the original publication that we’ve read, it certainly wouldn’t be the only error that was overlooked. In a certain part of the text, we see ‘nos’ instead of ‘not’, making the possibility of Jane merely being a mistype. However, many would rather believe it is intentional, and with reason – because ‘Jane’ would otherwise refer to the yet unnamed female protagonist. The revelation of her name at the end of the short story would be highly symbolic – remaining consistent with the rest of the story and its motifs – as the protagonist’s trouble was that she was not given importance as a woman and a human being. She was not even allowed the freedom to make trivial decisions in the domestic sphere which was typically the woman’s area of authority in that era. This changes when she chooses to take control of her life and no longer be controlled and entrapped by John, her husband. She, therefore, in this moment, becomes significant and is finally given a name to be associated with. The privilege of having a name is particularly brought attention to by the fact that all the other women in the story such as Mary, Julia and Jennie our given names despite being minor character where the main character herself remains nameless. This is perhaps because these women are fulfilling their domestic role, unlike Jane.

Working under the assumption that the female protagonist is indeed Jane, the significance of John’s name reaches a new level. Since, as readers, we are never provided with a last name for the couple, we may consider that John and Jane were possibly a play on Jane Doe and John Doe. This would make a lot of sense as the author seems to mean for the story to be representative of a typical man and woman in the 1890s. It is a great way to take a specific story with incredible original detail and make it universal through an alluded means of generalization.