English 11271 – 011
06 August 2011
Topic 3 Research Paper Assignment
"The Yellow Wallpaper" is a short story by American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature, illustrating attitudes in the nineteenth century toward women's physical and mental health. The story also has been classified as Gothis fiction and horror fiction. Gilman's macabre fantasy, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, exploits the nightamrish feel, violence and uncanny terror found in Gothic writings. In this story there are plenty of “Gothic” elements used by the author and she uses it to express her dark protests, fantasies and fear.
In the beginning, the “setting”, a “colonial mansion” (99) which is a “hereditary state” (99) is taken as a haunted house by the narrator. From the narrator's point of view, the nursery, and the yellow wallpaper in particular, become a prison which reflects her (narrator) inner thought and tortures her mind. It is in this room that the narrator with slight postpartum depression is obsessed with the yellow wallpaper, and it is here that she'll go madness in the end. In addition, we also can find gothic elements in psychological status of the heroine. At first, the yellow wallpaper represents her view of herself: sinful and ugly, for she bogs down on the ridiculous contradictions in her role as a wife and a mother. Nonetheless, with time passing, the narrator connects herself with the woman, who the narrator imagines creeping and being trapping behind the yellow wallpaper.
According to a well known scholar named Greg Johnson, he suggests that “The Yellow Wallpaper” contains Gothic themes such as "confinement and rebellion, forbidden desire and 'irrational' feart . . . Gosal 2
the distraught heroine, the forbidding mansion, and the powerfully repressive male antagonist" (522). Gilman uses these Gothic elements to unleash the nineteenth century woman writer from...