Imagery: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Imagery: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Imagery in literature brings a story to life for the reader. It draws the reader in and surrounds them with the environment of the narrative. The use of imagery will make the reader fully understand the circumstances under which the characters of a story live. In "The Yellow Wallpaper", by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the narrator of the story often describes the wallpaper, each time giving more details. The vivid descriptions allow the reader into the psyche of the narrator, which illustrates her ever-deepening mental illness. The imagery presented in the wallpaper through the narrator's words show her descent into insanity coupled with her desire for independence.
The narrator has been prescribed the rest cure as a treatment for her hysteria, which in reality is probably postpartum depression. She is not allowed to have any physical stimulation and, as such, only observes details of her environment. The wallpaper, in the beginning of the story, is described as "flamboyant" and "the color revolting" (793). This is little more than a minute detail in the narrator's description of the home in which the family is vacationing.
The narrator's detailed description of the wallpaper makes the reader understand the woman is well educated and has a keen eye for detail. The wallpaper evokes an emotional response from her, such as her statement, "It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study . . . " (793).
Signs of the depth of the narrator's mental illness are presented early in the story. The woman starts innocently enough with studying the patterns of the paper but soon starts to see grotesque images in it, "There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a...

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...ges portrayed within it, and releasing the woman from behind the pattern, occurs when she allows herself to surrender to her disease, "'I've got out at last,' said I, 'in spite of you and Jane! And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!'" (803). It is apparent the narrator has succumbed fully to her illness when she speaks of herself in the third person.
The wallpaper, the narrator's obsession, destroyed the peace of mind for all parties concerned. The imagery, used in the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper", paints a vivid picture and the reader becomes a front row spectator to the mental deterioration of the narrator to utter insanity.

Works Cited

Perkins Gilman, Charlotte, "The Yellow Wallpaper". The Norton Anthology of American
Literature. Eighth Edition. Baym, N and Levin, R. New York: W. W. Norton &
Company Ltd., 2012. Print

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