Symbols and Symbolism Essay - Imagery and Symbolism in The Yellow Wallpaper

Length: 734 words (2.1 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

Imagery and Symbolism in The Yellow Wallpaper

On my first reading of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper", I found the short story extremely well done and the author, successful at getting her idea across.  Gilman's use of imagery and symbolism only adds to the reality of the nameless main character's sheltered life and slow progression into insanity or some might say, out of insanity. 

The short story is written in first person and it is from our nameless character's writing's that we are introduced to her world and her life.  It is through this that we see our main characters transition into a world that only she has access to.  She changes dramatically from our first meeting while everyone else stays very flat and unaffected.  This method is very effective in that this story from someone else's perspective would not be as real and understanding.  The outside world would have written about a crazy woman who slowly goes mad for no reason.  Only through her eyes can we see the true reason for her, not madness, epiphany.

The story begins when she and her husband have just moved into a colonial mansion to relieve her chronic nervousness.  An ailment her husband has conveniently diagnosed.  The husband is a physician and in the beginning of her writing she has nothing but good things to say about him, which is very obedient of her.  She speaks of her husband as if he is a father figure and nothing like an equal, which is so important in a relationship.  She writes, "He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction."  It is in this manner that she first delicately speaks of his total control over her without meaning to and how she has no choices whatsoever.  This control is perhaps so imbedded in our main character that it is even seen in her secret writing; "John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my I will let it alone and talk about the house."  Her husband suggests enormous amounts of bed rest and no human interaction at all.  He chooses a "prison-like" room for them to reside in that he anticipates will calm our main character even more into a comma like life but instead awakens her and slowly but surely opens her eyes to a woman tearing the walls down to freedom.  It is the wallpaper, alive and a character in itself, that charges our main character's mind and helps her break free from the dull and husband driven life she has been living.  The wallpaper itself, so marvelously described, becomes our storyteller's best enemy and best friend.  More like a mirror, this yellow consuming wallpaper reflects what our main character is really going through and feeling and the woman that stirs and creeps within the wall is literally herself which is found out by us, the readers, when the housekeeper mentions the yellow stains on all of her clothes.  She wants to tear the confining wallpaper down that holds this imaginary woman in just as she wants to tear the confining way of life her husband has chosen for her.  The story continues to progress as she deconstructs and analyses the wallpaper until the climax when our main character locks herself in the yellow room to finally tear all of the wallpaper down so that the woman can never be put back and imprisoned forever.  The story concludes with her husband fainting, and our main character "creeping" and paying him no concern at all except that once again he is in her way but this time, not able to stop her voyage along the wall and for the rest of her life.

For some, this insanity seems without reason, but it is a long and overdue release of constraints that her husband had forced upon her for so long, much like the constraints that all of society had on women for so long.  Gilman, in one fail swoop has described the feelings that women had in her time and what could very well happen if women were to be kept quiet and reserved to only live as a man saw fit.  A giant of unspoken emotions and a typhoon of feminism were about to be released and freedom found for so many women just as it was found for our nameless main character.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Symbols and Symbolism Essay - Imagery and Symbolism in The Yellow Wallpaper." 09 Dec 2016

Related Searches

Important Note: If you'd like to save a copy of the paper on your computer, you can COPY and PASTE it into your word processor. Please, follow these steps to do that in Windows:

1. Select the text of the paper with the mouse and press Ctrl+C.
2. Open your word processor and press Ctrl+V.

Company's Liability (the "Web Site") is produced by the "Company". The contents of this Web Site, such as text, graphics, images, audio, video and all other material ("Material"), are protected by copyright under both United States and foreign laws. The Company makes no representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the Material or about the results to be obtained from using the Material. You expressly agree that any use of the Material is entirely at your own risk. Most of the Material on the Web Site is provided and maintained by third parties. This third party Material may not be screened by the Company prior to its inclusion on the Web Site. You expressly agree that the Company is not liable or responsible for any defamatory, offensive, or illegal conduct of other subscribers or third parties.

The Materials are provided on an as-is basis without warranty express or implied. The Company and its suppliers and affiliates disclaim all warranties, including the warranty of non-infringement of proprietary or third party rights, and the warranty of fitness for a particular purpose. The Company and its suppliers make no warranties as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the material, services, text, graphics and links.

For a complete statement of the Terms of Service, please see our website. By obtaining these materials you agree to abide by the terms herein, by our Terms of Service as posted on the website and any and all alterations, revisions and amendments thereto.

Return to