top-rated free essay

Foreshadowing of madness in Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper

By alannahvongrimm Nov 10, 2013 849 Words
How does Gilman's presentation of the setting foreshadow the narrators madness in the text?

"The Yellow Wallpaper" is depicted by the narrator’s sense that the wallpaper is something to interpret, it is a shadow of something that personally effects her. At first it seems merely unpleasant because it is dirty and ripped, and an "unclean yellow." Which could relate to how by the end of the story our main character has went insane, her mind is unclean. Even the description of the house starts out as the "most beautiful" place, standing desolate without any form of civilisation. Which could foreshadow our main character within the end of the story, a beautiful shell of a woman - yet her mind is so far way from any form of sanity. "There were greenhouses too, but they're all broken now" - 'broken' being the key word. She is a broken woman, a term often used for those who have lost their minds. The wallpaper in the story is described as "dull yet lurid" - could it symbolise that this woman was fairly average, yet there is something more about her, something more to her than meets the eye? The room in particular is located at the very top of the house. You could say similar to an attic - somewhere you could store things of little or no use. Somewhere to keep all of your secrets for nobody else to know of, it is out of the way. She is out of the way, as if her husband wanted her out of sight. Our character is sent up here and slowly starts to become delusional, her being put upstairs has brought a whole new meaning to the phrase "out of sight, out of mind" - as clearly by the end of the story she is out of her own mind. She begins to see "unblinking eyes" and "bulbous eyes" coming from this wallpaper and staring at her - a sign of both anxiety and hallucination, you begin to see her slow descent into madness at this point. All she begins to see are eyes, eyes with daunting expressions constantly staring at her. "The floor is scratched, gouged and splintered." The description of the floor seems as though somebody has tried to get out of the room, and without using the door they have resulted in savage means of escape - clawing and gouging, which seems a very animal thing to do. This links in with our narrator getting so frustrated with her bed she gnaws a chunk out of it, which is nothing any sane human would do - rather the actions of a wild animal. She then goes on to look at the wallpaper more and more in depth, noticing "sub-colours" and "sub-patterns," always noticing new things and always wanting more: maybe she wants more out of her relationship compared to somebody who treats her like a child. Also, she begins to enjoy her time in the room so much that she locks herself in. She is content with being alone, maybe she has had enough of her relationship and has found something new to look at in depth, distracting herself and creating the illusion of a woman behind the paper is a result of being treat in such a way where her only objective is to stand there and look pretty (she even references her husband's dislike towards her writing early on within the text.) Her description of the wallpaper gradually alters, as at first she seen "bulbous" eyes and the shades were "sickly" - she starts to grow fond of the room, and begins noting the paper's "curves" and "flourishes." The wallpaper begins to become a possession of hers, something only she can look at in such detail. "You think you have mastered it, but as you get well underway in following, it turns a back somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples on you. It is like a bad dream." This sentence alone says so much, she is beginning to feel tortured by an inanimate object. The wallpaper itself has not physically harmed her in any way, but is beginning to play on her mind, as if she is suffering because of the aesthetics the wallpaper possesses. Like a bad dream that she simply cannot escape from, the wallpaper is challenging - "you think you've mastered it," there is personification of the wallpaper as if it is out to get her. Ultimately, the floral pattern has led to her insanity. Illusions of a woman within the patterns are noted whenever a different kind of light shines on it from the window, although the woman is not physically there - the narrator is making this up, again creating a distraction from the outside world. She will not exit the room until she has caught the woman when little does she know, it is all in her head. In the end we find that the woman within the wallpaper is actually the narrator, she has brought the insanity upon herself.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Interpretations of Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"

    ...Interpretations of Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”             “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is an example of how stories and the symbolism to which they are related can influence the perspective of its readers and alternate their point of view. In the “Yellow Wall-Paper”, the unknown narrator gets ...

    Read More
  • Yellow Wallpaper Madness of Women

    ...As her madness progresses the narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper becomes increasingly aware of a woman present in the pattern of the wallpaper. She sees this woman struggling against the paper's "bars". Later in her madness she imagines there to be many women lost in its "torturing" pattern, trying in vain to climb through it. The woma...

    Read More
  • A Liberating Madness in the Yellow Wallpaper

    ...Name Class Prof Date A Liberating Madness in “The Yellow Wallpaper” What is madness? And what is the state we define as sanity? Mental illness is characterized by disturbances in a person’s thoughts, emotions, or behavior. However there is no universally accepted definition. In general, the definition of mental illness depends on a socie...

    Read More
  • Analysis of Setting in Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"

    ...Eric Fitzgerald Critical Essay Keith Wilhite 10/22/12 Analysis: The Yellow Wallpaper In works of literature, authors tend to use various literary techniques to help the reader understand the work without an explicit explanation. In the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses setting to connect with the them...

    Read More
  • Point of View in Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"

    ...Point of view and narrative mode in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" supports and conveys the theme of sanity versus insanity in a number of ways. In her capturing of the authority of narration, Gilman leaves the reader questioning the narrator's reliability. Her repeated use of self-reflexivity and the stream of conscious mode ...

    Read More
  • Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and its contemporary criticism

    ... Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and its contemporary criticism Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” in a time when it was customary to consider women as the weaker sex, and in need of constant care and protection. There has been an overwhelming amount of literary criticism throughout the following...

    Read More
  • Seeing Oppression in Gilman’s “the Yellow Wallpaper”

    ...as crazy or simply stressed when they believe they don’t feel well, seeking medical help. However, women in the past—specifically during the nineteenth century and before that—weren’t so fortunate. Oppression against women was great at that time; a woman receiving the same treatment as men was practically crazy, especially when women wer...

    Read More
  • Yellow Wallpaper

    ...Charlotte Perkins Gilman writes “The Yellow Wallpaper” in such a way that she is nearly begging the readers to see things from her side of thoughts but continuously persuades us that she is wrong in her concerns and that she is slowly becoming senile. We as an audience we are faced with the challenge of deciphering who the lady really is tha...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.