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On my first reading of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper", I found the short story extremely well done and the author, successful at getting her idea across. Gilman's use of imagery and symbolism only adds to the reality of the nameless main character's sheltered life and slow progression into insanity or some might say, out of insanity.
The short story is written in first person and it is from our nameless character's writing's that we are introduced to her world and her life. It is through this that we see our main characters transition into a world that only she has access to. She changes dramatically from our first meeting while everyone else stays very flat and unaffected. This method is very effective in that this story from someone else's perspective would not be as real and understanding. The outside world would have written about a crazy woman who slowly goes mad for no reason. Only through her eyes can we see the true reason for her, not madness, epiphany.
The story begins when she and her husband have just moved into a colonial mansion to relieve her chronic nervousness. An ailment her husband has conveniently diagnosed. The husband is a physician and in the beginning of her writing she has nothing but good things to say about him, which is very obedient of her. She speaks of her husband as if he is a father figure and nothing like an equal, which is so important in a relationship. She writes, "He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction." It is in this manner that she first delicately speaks of his total control over her without meaning to and how she has no choices whatsoever. This control is perhaps so imbedded in our main character that it is even seen in her secret writing; "John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition...so I will let it alone and talk about the house." Her husband suggests enormous amounts of bed rest and no human interaction at all. He chooses a "prison-like" room for them to reside in that he anticipates will calm our main character even more into a comma like life but instead awakens her and slowly but surely opens her eyes to a woman tearing the walls down to freedom.
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"Symbols and Symbolism Essay - Imagery and Symbolism in The Yellow Wallpaper." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Nov 2019
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For some, this insanity seems without reason, but it is a long and overdue release of constraints that her husband had forced upon her for so long, much like the constraints that all of society had on women for so long. Gilman, in one fail swoop has described the feelings that women had in her time and what could very well happen if women were to be kept quiet and reserved to only live as a man saw fit. A giant of unspoken emotions and a typhoon of feminism were about to be released and freedom found for so many women just as it was found for our nameless main character.