Analysis of Setting in Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"

1393 Words Nov 11th, 2012 6 Pages
Eric Fitzgerald
Critical Essay
Keith Wilhite

Analysis: The Yellow Wallpaper

In works of literature, authors tend to use various literary techniques to help the reader understand the work without an explicit explanation. In the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses setting to connect with the theme in order to give the reader an understanding of the narrator’s developing insanity along the common gender roles of the late 19th century. The narrator records journal entries that document the decline of her mental state throughout her progressively slanted perception of reality. Her decline in mental health, which seemingly begins as relatively steady, eventually becomes broken in a way that is
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She said, “There comes John, and I must put this away, - he hates to have me write a word” (317). Beyond the relationship of physician to patient, John is demonstrating his empowerment as a husband in this late 19th century short story when he does not allow his wife to go visit her Cousin Henry and Julia,: “[…] he said I wasn’t able to go, nor able to stand it after I got there; […]” (321). The husband-wife relationship between the two is further uncovered in the narrator’s fourth journal entry. She accidentally woke up her husband in the night when she got up from her bed to explore the activity in the wallpaper and goes on to say to John that it is “a good time to talk” (322). Through their discussion, it is clear that John is talking down to his wife when he calls her “little girl” and cries out, “Bless her little hear!” (322). Additionally, John seems as though he declines to acknowledge the fact that his wife’s condition is not improving as he continuously reinforces the idea that she is getting better. The relationship between the two is clearly dominated by John. His wife’s reliance on him and her lowliness are highlighted by John’s condescending conduct. Furthermore, John placed his wife in an upstairs bedroom, where she ended up spending all of her time away from the rest of the house. Contrary to where the wife wanted her bedroom to be, she nonetheless endured the discomfort that the hideous yellow
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