The Importance of Setting in The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Gilman

1354 Words6 Pages
The Importance of Setting in The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Gilman

In the short story "The Yellow Wall-Paper," by Charlotte Gilman, the setting contributes to the narrator's insanity. When she first sees the house, she loves it. She thinks the house will be a perfect place to recover from her "nervous condition," but that does not happen because her husband confines her to the bedroom so that her health will improve. The narrator's mental illness deteriorates to the point of insanity due to her isolation in the bedroom, with only the yellow wallpaper to look at that she considers "repellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow,strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight" (106).

At the beginning of the story,
…show more content…
She said the following:

I wish I could get well faster. But I must not think about that. This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had! There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down. I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness. Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd, unblinking eyes are everywhere. There is one place where two breadths didn't match, and the eyes go all up and down the line, one a little higher than the other. (107)

The narrator is being forced to stay in her room, and since there is nothing else to do, she starts looking for a pattern in the wallpaper. She begins to see faces in the wallpaper, and it appears that the narrator's nervous condition has grown into something more serious. Shortly after this occurs, she begins to see complete human figures in the wallpaper. "This wall-paper has a kind of sub-pattern in a different shade, a particularly irritating one, for you can only see it in certain lights, and not clearly then. But in the places where it isn't faded and where the sun is just so--I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design" (108). The narrator continues to regress. Her rational thinking is being replaced more and more with ramblings about the wallpaper. Since she is not really allowed to
Get Access