The Yellow Wallpaper Setting Essay

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Setting is a critical part of any story, developing both the time and place in which the story takes place, as well as mood and tone of the text. This certainly takes no exception in Charlotte Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Not only does the setting in “The Yellow Wallpaper” achieve the above, but also it goes one level deeper by giving the reader insight into the narrator’s mindset. By utilizing the setting as described by the narrator, along with the knowledge of the narrator’s battle with hysteria, the reader can fully interpret the setting, its impact on the narrator, as well as determine Gilman’s implications throughout the story. Gilman sets the mood of the story by including the narrator’s initial reaction to the house. At the beginning…show more content…
The narrator first describes the wallpaper as “repellent, almost revolting” but she cannot ignore it. Her attraction to the yellow wallpaper grows as she attempts to figure out its pattern. She keeps looking at the yellow wallpaper and determines that the pattern is a woman trapped within the wallpaper, “shaking [the bars] hard”, trying to escape (542). This ultimately leads to the climatic ending with the narrator ripping the wallpaper apart, crawling on the floor alongside the rooms’ walls, and completely “losing it”. Even though the narrator’s obsession of figuring out the wallpaper’s pattern is the primary impetus that causes her to go insane, there is a greater underlying reason as to why this happened. The yellow wallpaper, combined, with the rest of the room, serves as a symbol of Gilman’s critique of confinement of both women in marriage and the mentally ill, which the narrator suffers…show more content…
Lacking any mode of self-expression, except for the few times she can sneak writing into her journal, the narrator looks for something to occupy her mind and the yellow wallpaper is the answer. Gilman points out the fault of psychiatrists at the time. Even though doctors believe that starving the mentally ill of any sort of stimulus is a cure of mental health issues, Gilman illustrates that this only creates an environment for even further deterioration of the mind. Instead, what the narrator initially suggests to her husband is right. Allowing those who suffer from mental health issues to express themselves and explore what’s out there is the real cure.
Although setting may seem deceivingly simple, it is the setting in “The Yellow Wallpaper” that gives Gilman the platform to convey these complex ideas. The description of the setting reveals that narrator’s inner psychology and allows the reader to examine the struggles the narrator faces with her husband and within. The yellow wallpaper, along with the rest of the room, illustrates the issues people faced being constrained with regards to marriage and treatment of the mentally ill. These ideas wouldn’t have reached the reader if the setting was not as developed as it
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