Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”

A short story from the point of view of a woman who is presumed to be hysterical. While the narrator feels as though she is just sticking her husband John thinks otherwise. He diagnosed her with temporary nervous depression, now known as postpartum depression. They decide to rent an old colonial mansion while making renovations on their house and hope of improve of the narrator’s condition. The narrator writes about her days spent in the house.She soon becomes fixated on a pattern within the yellow walls of her room, and from there on her condition rapidly declines. Gilman uses an autobiographical standpoint of her own history of desolation and repression in the central idea. In this short story Gilman uses the setting to emphasize the struggles of isolation of mental illness and takes the reader through the mind of a hysteric woman.

The central idea of “The Yellow Wallpaper” centers around the state of depression that many women experience. Postpartum depression. This impacts the setting by way of which it is viewed. By not only the narrator but the reader too. For instance the narrator first instinct of the house is, “There is something strange about the house – I can feel it” (Gilman 328). Hours turn into days, days turn into weeks, and soon her delusion of the yellow wallpaper manifest into serve hallucinations. This allows for her inner conflict to be evidently exposed. “The front pattern does move/ the woman inside shakes it/ she is all the time trying to climb through” (Gilman 336). Gilman uses anthropomorphism of the women trapped within the wall to express the isolation and entrapment that women face during this time period.

The setting of this short story is both temporal and physical, taking place in the nineteenth century following an isolated countryside estate. The colonial mansion itself has a gothic and “queer” nature to it (Gilman 327). According to the narrator “It is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village” (Gilman 328). It is isolated from the road and along these lines isolated from society. Gilman uses the symbolism of the house being reclusive as a representation in reference to the narrator’s emotional state. The symbolism and allegories used are important a factor of the short story. It allows the reader to visualize what is being described, and put one’s self into the narrators shoes.

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