Importance of Symbolism and Setting in The Yellow Wallpaper

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Importance of Symbolism and Setting in The Yellow Wallpaper

In the disturbing novel, The Yellow Wallpaper, the setting in which the action takes place is extremely important. The author uses setting to focus the reader’s attention into the story in a gradual manner. Also, the manipulation of setting allows the author to subtly introduce symbols in the text. These symbols represent Gilman’s view on the status of women in the patriarchal society of the nineteenth century.

The story takes the form of a journal of the main character. Therefore, the reader’s view is limited to the impressions of a single character, Jane. Considering some background information on Gilman, one can easily draw the conclusion that the story is actually a reflection of personal experience. Gilman has suffered an extreme mental depression as the result of psychiatric treatments, prior to writing this short story. The author identifies herself with this character. Due to her poor health, Jane listens to the doctor’s advice and redirects the energy she formerly spent on worries to "air and exercise, and journeys"(Gilman 946). She continuously focuses her attention on the surrounding environment and she pays much attention to detail in her journal descriptions, accompanying these descriptions with personal impressions, most of the time; because of the subjective view, the reader assimilates these impressions as if they were his own. Setting is important for the character - she has come to this place in the hope that the surrounding environment will have a positive influence in her state of health. However, it is at least as important for the reader as well, because the reader is very closely bound to the character’s thoughts and impressions and a...

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