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The descriptive elements in The Yellow Wallpaper do a tremendous amount towards enhancing the reader's perception of the particular kind of insanity that afflicts the narrator. The descriptions, most notably of the wallpaper itself, are multi-sensory, artful and detailed. Using metaphorical images, and surprising combinations of words, the narrator gives numerous ways for readers to experience the wallpaper. In the line regarding the wallpaper: "...they connect diagonaly, and the sprawling outlines run off in great slanting waves of optic horror, like a lot of wallowing seaweeds in full chase." The word pairings of 'optic horror' and the similie are unusual and sensory. This serves to peak the reader's interest and more effectively draw the reader into the description.
Additionally, the range of descriptions of the wallpaper not only cover several intense and detailed visual descriptions, but also an equally detailed olfactory description. The narrator describes the smell of the wallpaper in the following lines:
But there is something else about that paper - the smell! I noticed it the moment we came into the room, but with so much air and sun it was not bad. Now we have had a week of fog and rain, and whether the windows are open or not, the smell is here.
It creeps all over the house.
I find it hovering in the dining-room, skulking in the parlor, hinding in the hall, lying in wait for me on the stairs.
It gets into my hair.
Even when I go to ride, if I turn my head suddenly and surprise it-there is that smell!
Such a peculiar odor, too! I have spent hours trying to analize it, to find what it smelled like.
It is not bad - at first, very gentle, but quite the subtlest, most enduring odor I ever met.
In this damp weather it is awful. I wake up in the night and find it hanging over me.
It used to disturb me at first. I thought seriously of burning the house-to reach the smell.
But now I am used to it. The only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A yellow smell.
The two most notable descriptions of the wallpaper also follow (paragraphs removed to save space):
I never saw a worse paper in my life.
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Perhaps you have experienced something like what the narrator is describing in a dream or when you were sick.