The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote The Yellow Wallpaper in 1890 about her experience in a psychiatric hospital. The doctor she had prescribed her “the rest cure” to get over her condition (Beekman). Gilman included the name of the sanitarium she stayed at in the piece as well which was named after the doctor that “treated” her. The short story was a more exaggerated version of her month long stay at Weir Mitchell and is about a woman whose name is never revealed and she slowly goes insane under the watch of her doctor husband and his sister (The Yellow Wallpaper 745). Many elements of fiction were utilized by Gilman in this piece to emphasize the theme freedom and confinement. Three of the most important elements are symbolism, setting and character.

The first example of an element of fiction used in The Yellow Wallpaper is symbolism. One symbol is the room. There is are bars on the windows to make the reader feel that the narrator is more than likely staying in psychiatric holding room than a room where she can get over her anxious condition. In most sanitariums, there are bars on the windows. The narrator’s husband went against her wishes to stay in the room downstairs with open windows and a view of the garden and put her in a barred prison cell contributing to the theme freedom and confinement. The second symbol is the bed. The bed is big, chained, and nailed to the floor. The reader could say the bed symbolizes sexual repression because a bed is where it happened during the 1900s and with a bed of such large size being nailed and chained down can represent sexual repression.

The third symbol is the most important symbol of all and that is the ugly yellow wallpaper the narrator has to spend her time staring at and in the end g...

... middle of paper ...

...buting to the theme of freedom and confinement.

The Yellow Wallpaper is not just a short story. It was written from Gilman’s perspective with the purpose of telling people that being confined will only make a person more insane. But there’s got to be someone to blame, right? Well, seeing as Gilman was a feminist, it is only logical to blame the person that put her in the sanitarium, right? There’s a deeper meaning to The Yellow Wallpaper and she used symbolism, setting, and character to help the reader better understand this short piece.

Works Cited

Barnet, Sylvan, William Burto, and William E. Cain. "The Yellow Wallpaper." Literature for Composition: An Introduction to Literature. 10th ed. New Jersey: Pearson, 2014. 746-56.

Beekman, Mary. "Charlotte Perkins Gilman." Charlotte Perkins Gilman. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2014.
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