The Role of Chronology in Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper and Faulkner's A Rose for Emily

The Role of Chronology in Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper and Faulkner's A Rose for Emily

Length: 1220 words (3.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
The Role of Chronology in Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper and Faulkner's A Rose for Emily

Chronology is the sequence of time as it occurs in events. The chronology of a story is important in order for the reader to understand the work of literature. Many stories, such as "The Yellow Wallpaper" written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, have chronological events that happen in sequence, in order of the time they happened. Other stories, such as "A Rose for Emily" written by William Faulkner, have complicated chronologies. Faulkner uses "a complicatedly disjunctive time scheme that twists chronology almost beyond recognition" (Qtd. in Moore). His story begins with an event happening in the present, regresses to an earlier event, and finally returns to the initial event. This sometimes confuses the reader. Although "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "A Rose for Emily" have different chronologies, each story's chronology affects how the reader is able to understand the work as well as the order in which the events happened.

Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" has a basic and simple chronology that tells a story in an ordered time line. The protagonist Jane, also the narrator, tells the story in present tense, just as it is happening to her. The story is an "account of a woman's gradual decent into madness" (Bak 1). It starts with the narrator telling the reader "it is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer" (Gilman 13). Jane and her husband rent the summerhouse in order for Jane to rest and recover from a slight depression. Jane is isolated in an upstairs nursery in a colonial mansion three miles away from the village (Bak 1). As the story progresses, the reader is able to see what Jane goes through while isolated in the house. The next instance of time that Jane mentions in the story is the passing of the Forth of July (Gilman 17). As time progresses to the end of summer, the reader is able to see how time in the house has caused Jane's condition to deteriorate. The story ends in a mystery, but the reader is allowed to see how the story unraveled in an ordered chronological time, which makes the story less confusing.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Role of Chronology in Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper and Faulkner's A Rose for Emily." 19 Jan 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Yellow Wallpaper:  The Woman's View in a Subjugated Role

- The presence of a woman's perspective in the The Yellow Wallpaper is evident whenwe see the first passage describing the trees and how aesthetically pleasant theatmosphere is; this is the "view" of the stereotypical nineteenth century woman.To compound that she is the subject of her master, her husband. To the woman, themaster is wiser (he is a good doctor). He is physically superior, and he controlsthe social situations and preserves "order" by acting like a "man" should. Theperspective is inferior for the standard human being....   [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper Essays]

Research Papers
713 words (2 pages)

The Fight for Sanity in The Yellow Wallpaper

- The Fight for Sanity in The Yellow Wallpaper         Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper is partly autobiographical and it illustrates the fight for selfhood by a women in an oppressed and oppressive environment.  In the story, the narrator is not allowed to write or think, basically becoming more dysfunctional as she is entrapped in a former nursery room where bars adorn the windows and the bed is nailed to the floor.  In this story there is an obstinacy on behalf of the narrator as she tries to go around her husband's and physician's restrictions, however, there is no resisting the oppressive nature of her environment and she finally surrenders to madness even though it repr...   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Research Papers
1752 words (5 pages)

The Oppression of Women and The Yellow Wallpaper

- The Oppression of Women and The Yellow Wallpaper        The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a fictionalized autobiographical account that illustrates the emotional and intellectual deterioration of the female narrator who is also a wife and mother. The woman, who seemingly is suffering from post-partum depression, searches for some sort of peace in her male dominated world. She is given a “rest cure” from her husband/neurologist doctor that requires strict bed rest and an imposed reprieve form any mental stimulation....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Research Papers
1520 words (4.3 pages)

Symbolism and Repression in The Yellow Wallpaper

- Symbolism and Repression in The Yellow Wallpaper        Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is as a wonderful example of the gothic horror genre. It was not until the rediscovery of the story in the early 1970’s that “The Yellow Wallpaper” was recognized as a feminist indictment of a male dominated society. The story contains many typical gothic trappings, but beneath the conventional façade hides a tale of repression and freedom told in intricate symbolism as seen through the eyes of a mad narrator....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Research Papers
2045 words (5.8 pages)

The Language and Syntax of The Yellow Wallpaper

- From the minute you read the read the first paragraph until you finish the last sentence, Charlotte Gilman captures her reader s attention as her character documents her own journey into insanity in The Yellow Wallpaper.   As her character passes a seemingly indefinite amount of time, it becomes clear that her husband s treatment is affecting her.  Gilman is able convey the narrator s changing mental state through language and syntax.     Gilman manipulates the reader s perspective throughout her story as she immediately introduces us to her world.  Language plays an important role as a normal woman assesses her husband s profession and her own supposed illness.  The narrator comes across in...   [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper Essays]

Research Papers
891 words (2.5 pages)

Contrary Interpretations of The Yellow Wallpaper

- Contrary Interpretations of The Yellow Wallpaper    “The Yellow Wallpaper” was first published in New England Magazine in 1892.  Charlotte Perkins Gilman, an advocate for the advancement of women, authored the short story.  She intended the piece to bring to light the inherent ineptitude of the Weir Mitchell “rest cure.”  Though this subject is addressed, many other pertinent topics are broached, ever so subtly.  Other themes in the book include the role of women in a society dominated by men, the role of the mother, and how oppression can affect the mind of a creative individual.  These themes, however, can be altered merely by how the tale is edited.  I intend to point out some of the...   [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper Essays]

Research Papers
1555 words (4.4 pages)

Gender Roles in The Yellow Wallpaper

- Gender Roles in The Yellow Wallpaper         In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," the reader is treated to an intimate portrait of developing insanity. At the same time, the story's first person narrator provides insight into the social attitudes of the story's late Victorian time period. The story sets up a sense of gradually increasing distrust between the narrator and her husband, John, a doctor, which suggests that gender roles were strictly defined; however, as the story is just one representation of the time period, the examination of other sources is necessary to better understand the nature of American attitudes in the late 1800s....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Research Papers
1449 words (4.1 pages)

Caught in the Yellow Wallpaper

- Caught in the Yellow Wallpaper        "The pattern is torturing. You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns a back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you."   As her madness progresses the narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper becomes increasingly aware of a woman present in the pattern of the wallpaper. She sees this woman struggling against the paper's "bars". Later in her madness she imagines there to be many women lost in its "torturing" pattern, trying in vain to climb through it....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Research Papers
1053 words (3 pages)

Suppression of Women in The Yellow Wallpaper

- Suppression of Women in The Yellow Wallpaper "The Yellow Wallpaper," by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, tells the story of a woman's descent into madness as a result of the "rest and ignore the problem cure" that is frequently prescribed to cure hysteria and nervous conditions in women. More importantly, the story is about control and attacks the role of women in society. The narrator of the story is symbolic for all women in the late 1800s, a prisoner of a confining society. Women are expected to bear children, keep house and do only as they are told....   [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]

Research Papers
1807 words (5.2 pages)

John as Role Model for Husbands in The Yellow Wallpaper

- Modern day feminists' enjoy looking into the past to find examples of female oppression. This tactic is employed in the hopes of demonstrating that oppression of their sex by the evil male populous has been going on for decades. One such work that is cited by feminists to showcase just how terrible women were treated in the first part of the twentieth century is Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper." Feminists' are quick to point out that the main character in this story is driven down the path of insanity by her uncaring husband....   [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper Essays]

Research Papers
1387 words (4 pages)

Related Searches

The chronological timed events also allows the reader to experience what Jane endured, making "The Yellow Wallpaper" easier to read and easier to be understood.

Unlike Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper", Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" has a different chronological order in which his story is told. The chronology in "A Rose for Emily" goes from present to past, to future, to past, and then back to present. This is not an orderly timed fashion. "Faulkner destroys chronological time in his story" (Qtd. in Moore 128). The story starts out at the funeral of Miss Emily Grierson and the aftermath of her death (Faulkner 15). After the scene of the funeral, the narrator, a local townsperson, takes the reader into the past to illustrate Emily's stubborn resolve to combat the corrosions of time (Birk 2). The first glimpse the narrator gives the reader of Miss Emily in the story comes when she is at the age of sixty (Byrne 2). When Miss Emily first appears, she is carrying a gold ticking watch on a gold chain that is in her pocket (Schwab 1). The watch illustrates Miss Emily's attempts to control the passage of years and the consequences of her effort to control it (1). "Time for Miss Emily does not move forward: it merely drones on in repetition, like the absurdly loud tick, tick, tick, of her invisible watch" (1). In order for Miss Emily to hold on to the things that really matter to her, she must prevent time from passing (1).

After the first glimpse of Miss Emily, the narrator flashes back to another time in Miss Emily's life. Miss Emily is about thirty years old, and it is two years after the death of her father. This time frame is just after Homer Barron, Miss Emily's suitor, deserts her (Byrne 2). The townspeople are complaining to the mayor about the smell coming from Miss Emily's house (Faulkner 17). After going through the events that happened two years after Miss Emily's father's death, the narrator advances the reader to the summer after the death of Miss Emily's father when she meets Homer (Byrne 3). After Homer's disappearance, the narrator proceeds to when Miss Emily is about forty years old. At this point in the story, Miss Emily begins to give china-painting lessons to some children until they grow up and don't come back (Faulkner 21). After that event, Miss Emily shut her door to the outside world for the last time.

The next time that the narrator mentions Miss Emily is when she dies at the age of seventy-four (21). The story ends where it began, at the funeral of Miss Emily Grierson (22). The story comes full circle in its initial time frame (Birk 2). Miss Emily's attempt to fix people and events in the past, and her attempt to control time mirrors the structure of the story (Schwab 2). The story's chronology affects how the reader interprets the events and their sequence in the story. The chronology also allows Miss Emily to be frozen in time, which makes some readers unable to realize the correct order in which the events happened in the story and how these situations affect the story's meaning.

The chronology of "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "A Rose for Emily" make each story different and unique. "The Yellow Wallpaper" has straight-forth chronology, allowing the reader to understand and experience the events as they happened in an orderly fashion. "A Rose for Emily" has confusing chronology requiring the reader to put the events together themselves and make sense of what happened at the end of the story. Because Miss Emily's life story is told in reverse order and specific dates are not used for events, it creates difficulty in establishing the chronology of her life (Moore 129). Each story tells of how two women descend into madness, one by post-partum depression over a series of timed events and the other by trying to control events that had happened in the past. Although the chronologies of the two stories differ, both stories are effective in portraying what the authors wants the reader to experience.

Works Cited

Bak, John S. Escaping the Jaundiced Eye: "Foucauldian Panopticism in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper.'"

Studies in Short Fiction. 1994 31(1): 1-6. <Galileo online>
Birk, John F. "Tryst Beyond Time: Faulkner's 'Emily' and Keats." Studies in Short Fiction. 1991 28(2): 1-7. <Galileo online>

Byrne, Mary Ellen. "Town and Time: Teaching Faulkner's 'A Rose for Emily.'" Center for Faulkner Southeast Missouri State University.

10 Oct. 2002

Faulkner, William. "A Rose for Emily." The Harcourt Brace Casebook Series in Literature. Ed. Noel Polk. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 2000. 15-24.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper." The Harcourt Brace Casebook Series in Literature. Ed. Carol Kivo.Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1998. 13-27.

Moore, Gene M. "Of Time and It's Mathematical Progression: Problems of Chronology in Faulkner's 'A Rose For Emily.'"The Harcourt Brace Casebook Series in Literature. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 2000. 127-134.

Schwab, Milinda. "A Watch for Emily." Studies in Short Fiction. 1991 28(2): 1-3. <Galileo online>
Return to