Symbolism of the Setting of "The Yellow Wallpaper"

Topics: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper, Silas Weir Mitchell Pages: 4 (1204 words) Published: May 15, 2014
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Marissa Volpe
Prof. Baker
ENC 1102
Symbolism In The Gothic Setting of “The Yellow Wallpaper” Gothic literature is incredibly distinct. There is a sort of formula involved with writing in the Gothic style, and one of the most important aspects of this is the setting, which can include anything from the architecture of the buildings to the color of the leaves on the trees. The setting of a story is a vital element, as it would seem to be that the most effective way of drawing someone into the story would be allowing them to envision it, and it’s much easier to envision something once it has been described. The setting can also be used as a source of symbolism, which is very apparent in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. As the story is written in journal entries, the symbolism is not as easily stated as it can be in third-person, but is included through the description of the setting. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a prime example of the Gothic setting and the symbolism it can have.

Gilman makes the style of her story very clear from right from the first page. The building the narrator describes is a “colonial mansion... a haunted house” (Gilman 83), which is very typical of Gothic literature. Gothic buildings tend to be castles and are often old, decrepit, or haunted. This house is “an Americanized, domesticated format of the physically charged contested castle” (Carol Davison). The grand colonial mansion on a large block of land resembles a more modern castle, which provides the feeling that the house is looming, stuffy, and, for lack of a better term, creepy. Though the narrator does say that the house is not actually

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haunted, she does state that “there is something strange about the house” (Gilman 84). This lets the reader know that this story will have strange elements to it, which is normal of Gothic literature. The protagonist doesn’t walk about the house too much, as she stays in solitude in her room for...

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Gilman 's Story." Poetcrit 19.1 (2006): 38-44. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Wiedemann, Barbara. "The Yellow Wallpaper." Short Fiction: A Critical Companion (1997):
64-72. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Davison, Carol Margaret. "Haunted House/Haunted Heroine: Female Gothic Closets In "The
Yellow Wallpaper." Women 's Studies 33.1 (2004): 47-75. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web.
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Gilman, Charlotte P. "The Yellow Wallpaper." Literature: A Pocket Anthology. Boston:
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