Setting, Symbolism and Oppression of Women in The Yellow Wallpaper

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The Yellow Wallpaper: Setting, Symbolism and Oppression of Women

Have you ever been locked in a dark closet? You grope about trying to feel the doorknob, straining to see a thin beam of light coming from underneath the door. As the darkness consumes you, you feel as if you will suffocate. There is a sensation of helplessness and hopelessness. Loneliness, caused by oppression, is like the same darkness that overtakes its victim. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, in "The Yellow Wallpaper," recounts the story of a young mother who travels to a summer home to "rest" from her nervous condition. Her bedroom is an old nursery covered with ugly, yellow wallpaper. The more time she spends alone, the more she becomes obsessed with the wallpaper's
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Another significant reference to the imprisoning oppression is found in the young woman's hallucinations about the wallpaper. "At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern, I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be" (432). This setting passage shows how the loneliness caused by the oppression provokes the woman to cross over the line of reality to insanity.

            Gilman's effective setting descriptions are further complimented by the wallpaper symbolism that she employs to suggest that imprisoning oppression can lead to a deadly form of insanity. "The front pattern does move...she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard. But nobody could climb through the pattern it strangles so" (434). Gilman uses the front wallpaper pattern to describe how strangling the imprisoning oppression has become. Gilman provides vivid descriptions of the wallpaper its pattern, its color and its smell. "The color is repellent, almost revolting: a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight. It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulfur tint in others" (426). The fading wallpaper is symbolic of how the depression makes
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