Literary Analysis Of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's “The Yellow Wallpaper”

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Literary Elements

a. The first element that stands out in the story is symbolism. Symbolism is used to reinforce the message of women being repressed in their domestic lives. The most noticeable symbol in the story is the wallpaper that is talked about throughout the story. The disturbing pattern of the paper represents the repressive lives of the women in the narrator’s time. An example of repression in the story, is when the narrator’s husband stops her from writing in her journal, the only thing that seem to be keeping her sane at the time. With that taken away she has no way to express her thoughts which ultimately leads her to insanity.

b. A second element in the story is the setting. The setting also help to reinforce the the message of women being repressed. The room the narrator was in was a nursery, but it had bars on the window, a gate that locks outside, rings in the wall and a nailed down bed. The description of the room sounds more like a jail cell than a nursery. The room adds to the narrator feeling of being oppressed, and it also implies that she feels like a prisoner in her own home. Since her husband put her in that room, it could also mean that she feels that her husband has imprisoned her.

One important scene in the story is when the narrator ask her husband if she can have the room with the roses on the window but he dismisses her by telling her the room upstairs is better for her. As a husband who cares about his wife condition he should’ve moved to the room she wanted to put her at ease. But ironically puts her in a room he believes will make her “better” but instead aids in driving her to losing her sanity. If he had listened to her, she wouldn’t be in the room with the wallpaper which she becomes obsessed with and things could’ve played out differently.

John is to blame for the narrator’s descent into madness. He didn’t listen to any of the narrator’s concerns and acted like he knew more than her because he is a physician. For example, when the narrator tells her husband she feels that she isn’t getting better at the house and wishes to move away. He brushes off her concerns and instead insists that the place is making her better. And that she should listen to him because he is a physician and has more knowledge than her. If he had actually listened, he could have done a better job at saving her mind. It’s every doctor responsibility to address their patient’s concerns seriously, and he failed to do so with his wife, which lead her to insanity.

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