19 October 2018
The Yellow Wallpaper Setting Essay
In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s gothic short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, she uses the settings to illustrate the deteriorating progression of the narrator’s sanity throughout the text. When the narrator first sees the house, she loves it. She thinks the house will be a perfect place to recover from her "nervous depression," but that does not happen because her husband, John, confines her to an upstairs bedroom so that her health will improve. She complains that John will not listen to the worries she has about her condition. The narrator's mental illness gets worse to the point of insanity due to her isolation in the bedroom, with only the yellow wallpaper to look at. With only the yellow wallpaper to look at it becomes a major force in the story, as the narrator grows obsessed with deciphering its seemingly incomprehensible, illogical patterns. In a series of increasingly short diary entries, she describes her progress in uncovering the secrets of its pattern. She believes that she sees the figure of a creeping woman, trapped behind the bars of the top pattern, and becomes determined to set her free. The narrator begins to keep secrets even from her diary, and makes an initial, nighttime attempt to remove the wallpaper to set the woman free. Once the wallpaper is torn off the perspective shifts as what was left of the narrator’s sanity now completely gone, and in her madness she is convinced that she is the woman who was trapped behind the wallpaper.
Gothic style is very distinct throughout the short story and is a important aspect of the setting. From the first page the narrator describes the building as a, “colonial mansion [...] a haunted house” (Gilman 956), which is common of gothic literature. The colonial mansion is on a large piece of land which can be seen as a modern castle, which provides a eerie, creepy feeling. Though the narrator does not state the house is directly haunted she does say, “there is something strange about the house” (Gilman 957). This allows the reader to infer that there are strange elements to it, which is common for gothic style. Another example is the furniture the narrator describes all leads to the theme of imprisonment. Furniture showing imprisonment include stating that “the windows are barred” (Gilman 957) and the bed in the room “is nailed down” (Gilman 960). The bed foreshadows the solitude of the narrator , as she becomes increasingly obsessed with the wallpaper and does not leave the bedroom. The window symbolizes freedom while the bars show there is no escape.
The time period as a whole is an important setting because it explains the reasons for many important direct and indirect actions of characters. The story is believed to have taken place in the 19th century around the time Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote it. As a time period as a whole women were described and seen as less than men. Gil...