The story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman light up the female social critique of the late 1800s (29). She argues that the protagonist of the story is suffering from a mental disorder as she is in depression and feel like she is trapped in a room with wallpaper (Gilman). This depicts the male dominant society and women have less freedom to live their lives by their choices. This story is best known for the indifferences between women and feminists. This story is focalized by the first person as the narrator is the main character and she is telling her story by herself.
For this story, the narrator uses “imagery, “personification” and “simile” literary devices to express the language features of the story.
The theme of the story is a woman is losing her mental health as she has no freedom to express herself. At the starting of the story, the protagonist starts imagination by looking at the house as she says to her husband that “I would say a haunted house” (Gilman, 29).
For example, she claims that she can say proudly that there is something strange in the house and she starts questioning the cheap cost of the house and unutilized house for a long time (Gilman, 29), but her husband laughs at her, as he is a physician and he believes in practical, then she finds herself trapped in the male dominant society (Gilman, 30). Thus, the author becomes a more mentally upset and over-imaginative person. She starts to imagine the history of the room as she says, “it was nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium” (Gilman, 31).
For example, she imagines the windows of the room that why they are barred for children (Gilman, 31). This imagery suggests that she is a child who trapped in the room and does not have permission to visit outside the room as a child. Windows symbolizes that how an upset mind thinks to escape from the room which is not harmful to her. This is all about her loneliness in the room which not let her stop thinking about the room and represents the pitiable conditions of women of the late 1800s.
The author uses personification while she was doing the imagination that she will never get freedom from wallpaper. She becomes a victim of madness and depression by living alone in a house, and thus loses her touch with reality as she is doing personification about the patterns. For example, she feels like patterns of wallpaper are alive as she says, “patterns committing every artistic sin” (Gilman, 31), she does personification that patterns are doing crime in the wallpaper (Gilman, 31). Furthermore, Gilman narrates the designs of wallpaper are lame, and they “commit suicide” and “destroying themselves” when someone tries to read them (Gilman, 31) then she foreshadowing with her madness that destroying herself is the only path to get freedom from yellow wallpaper and room. Moreover, she is doing personification by saying, “patterns loll a broken neck” (Gilman, 33) and “Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd unblinking eyes are everywhere” (Gilman, 33). Her these personifications prove her madness because the wallpaper is a thing, not a living being, and it cannot loll and have eyes. It depicts that in male dominant society she loses her mental health because her husband does not allow her to visit outside the room.
All through the short story, Gilman gets depressive while watching the patterns of yellow in her room (Gilman). She uses simile while she was doing descriptions of wallpaper which shows her descent into madness as she is saying “And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind pattern” (Gilman, 36). For example, she does simile as she relates the pattern with a woman by saying “seemed to” (Gilman, 36) who is bending herself and walking in the wallpaper which irritates her and causes her to make her madder. Besides, she is saying that “The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out” (Gilman, 36). For example, some spaces of wallpaper have fainted and she similes them with shacking patterns as she thinks the women will come out if the fainted patterns will shake. The woman gets depressed as she cannot get freedom from her male partner and she cannot understand by her husband. It shows that the females of the late 1800s had to struggle in their lives as they did not have the freedom to enjoy their lives.
In conclusion, the narrator of the story illustrates the story of a woman who cannot get a decent life and thereby loses her mental health. Through her story, the author sheds light on the situation of females in the late 1800s as women did not have power or rights as men had to speak out their feeling in society, to do whatever they wanted to do.
Gillman, C.P., The Yellow Wallpaper. The Broadview Introduction to Literature – Short Fiction (Second Edition). Broadview Press. Peterborough Ontario, Canada. 2018. pp 29-43