The Yellow Wallpaper

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Alyssa Butler Allen Anderl English 124 November 16, 2012 A Critical Analysis of Formal Elements in the Short Story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, published in 1899, is a semi-autobiographical short story depicting a young woman’s struggle with depression that is virtually untreated and her subsequent descent into madness. Although the story is centered on the protagonist’s obsessive description of the yellow wallpaper and her neurosis, the story serves a higher purpose as a testament to the feminist struggle and their efforts to break out of their domestic prison. With reference to the works of Janice Haney-Peritz’s, “Monumental Feminism and Literature’s …show more content…

The big, airy windows are barred shut preventing the narrator from escaping. She can see out of the room but is unable to participate in any of the outside events. However, the most important aspect of this room is the yellow wallpaper. The narrator despises it, loathing the colour and it’s pattern. She writes that it is “. . .dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide--plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions.” (Gilman). This description of the wallpaper serves the purpose to show the reader the unjust restrictions of society that the narrator is subjected to; “. . .commentators have seen in this description of the wallpaper a general representation of “the oppressive structures of society in which [the narrator] finds herself” (Madwoman 90), . . .” (Haney-Peritz 116). The statement of “dull enough to confuse the eye” and “constantly irritating and provoking study” are alluding to the narrator’s sense of inferiority and burden while the “lame and uncertain curves” are referencing the absurd suggestions that her husband is providing. Finally the “suicide” is the unfortunate fate that is destined to occur if his counsel is followed. When describing the wallpaper the narrator writes that “The color is repellent, almost

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