“The Yellow Wallpaper”
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
“The Yellow Wallpaper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is gothic psychological short story written in journal-style with first-person narrative. Other elements used in the story are symbols, irony, foreshadowing, and imagery. “The Yellow Wallpaper is about a woman who suffers from postpartum depression. Her husband, a physician, puts her on “rest cure of quiet and solitude.” (Wilson 278). This cure consisted of the narrator being confined to rest in one room and forbidden to do any physical work, read, write, or have any other type of mental stimulation. She secretly kept a journal to write in. The wallpaper in the room irritated the narrator to the point of her asking her husband to replace it. The wallpaper soon becomes a distraction. References to the yellow wallpaper become more frequent and keep developing through the course of the story as the narrator gives way to insanity.
Gilman uses several gothic elements including horror, dread, suspense, and the supernatural. Describing the women, the room, and the malevolent shapes, “Gilman tricks the reader into seeing Jane as simultaneously mad and in the grips of some haunting supernatural spectors.” (May 4724). The development of the story may imply possession as much as it does hallucination. The house that is “quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village” (Gilman 473) gives the reader a sense of isolation producing a dreaded tone which is common in gothic writings. The yellow color of the wallpaper also carries some gothic elements, portraying something stale, old, and decayed. The yellow is described as a “smoldering unclean yellow.” (Gilman 474). In addition to the color of the paper, the room the narrator is kept in seems to give the feeling of being a haunted space, even though the haunting may come from the narrator herself.
The story is a great example of first-person narrative because it is...
References: Hudock, Amy. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Masterplots II: Women’s Literature Series. Salem Press, 1995.
Kivo, Carol. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The Harcourt Brace Casebook Series in Literature. Harcourt, 1998.
May, Charles. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Masterplots 11: Short Story Series. Ed. Frank N. Magill. Pasadena: Salem, 1986.
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