Language And Meaning In The Yellow Wall-Paper

Improved Essays
Language and Meaning in “The Yellow Wall-Paper”
Charlotte Perkins Gilman expertly molds language to emphasize her meaning in her short story “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” Gilman uses it to emphasize the societal critique of the limitations of women contained in her writing. Gilman illustrates the dangers of forcibly removing a women’s own autonomy over her mind and her body, and delicately composes language to showcase these consequences.
Gilman crafts characters that embody the typical archetype of her time’s woman and man within her characters of John and his wife, the narrator. She then juxtaposes them through the dynamic of their relationship as husband and wife. Gilman establishes a very evident power hierarchy that she emphasizes in the narrator
…show more content…
This begins to decompose and decay her mind, slowly depleting her sanity. This depletion becomes apparent in the syntax of her journal entries as more and more time passes under John’s care. The narrator’s initial journal entries show that she has a high level of education and a large breadth of knowledge. Her writing shows this education within the structure of this sentence from an early entry: “I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal—having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition,” (486). The sentence is relatively lengthy and the complexities within the syntax becomes apparent within the use of the colon and dash. Most of her sentences follow this example with variances in length to keep the reader’s interest. The style of the narrator’s entries are incredibly informal, due to the short story being stylized as a private journal. The paragraph lengths can be incredibly short, occasionally being just one sentence. Despite this, the narrator’s syntax deconstructs and simplifies as time elapses and more of her sanity escapes her. Gilman creates a direct correlation between the amount of time spent under John’s care and the complexity and lengthiness of the narrator’s sentence structure. Her writing begins to read like a series of declarations rather than a steady flow of coherent thoughts. This is seen at the …show more content…
This wallpaper weighs heavily on the narrator’s mind making itself the first thing she notices as wrong, and immediately vocalizes this to John. John’s response drips with jest—he laughs at her concerns and diminishes her authority in the matter. He makes the claim that “nothing was worse” for her than to “give way to such fancies” forcing her to endure the wallpaper despite her reservations (488). John removes her authority to live in a space where she feels comfortable. Gilman crafts a parallel between John’s disregard for his wife’s physical and mental autonomy, and the presence of this oppressive wallpaper. The narrator has no say over her conditions despite the fact that she knows her own self better than anyone else. This symbol of male oppressions elaborates itself further when the narrator begins to notice a woman creeping about in the wallpaper. It’s clear that her mental state deteriorates rapidly, but in this state of delusion, her mind fabricates a character that mirrors her condition. The narrator not only notices this woman, but realizes that the wallpaper traps her and she “takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard” with the intention of “climb[ing] through,” (494). This women is trapped in the wallpaper just as the narrator is trapped in an oppressive society.

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”, there is a constant gender dynamic present between the female narrator and her husband, seen in their antagonistic interactions. This dynamic sets up a hierarchy which restricts the woman’s agency and dismisses her concerns. This constant dismissal and subjugation of the female figure denies her of authenticity and agency, driving her to the brink of madness. However, the madness inflicted as a result of stifling patriarchy becomes a tool of emancipation for the female figure. Through madness, there is a disavowal of patriarchal society and its excessive rationality.…

    • 1243 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The narrator is clearly being stifled, going insane. The symbol of the yellow wallpaper hold significance to this effect. The wallpaper represents a few ideas, such as the narrator’s own mind, the narrator’s subconscious, and the economic and social dependence of women on their husbands (Triechler, 64). As the story progresses, the wallpaper evolves from simply being ugly and unclean - the narrator refers to it as “that horrid paper” (Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, 470) - to holding entities behind the pattern. It could be argued, based on the loss of her individuality due to the ‘rest cure’, that the narrator sees herself as the woman in the wallpaper, ghostly and trapped.…

    • 1138 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Unbeknownst to John, the room “perpetuated fear and bred paranoia” (Bak 2) in his wife, contrary to his actions that he thought would be helpful. The wallpaper is the most detrimental to her health, for she constantly thinks about it. Her life revolves around the wallpaper at all time. Not just one component of the house leads to the loss of her sanity, but a barrage of mentally taxing thought processes does. In conclusion, Gilman lays a framework for her story by using a personal document of the narrator, the environment, and foreshadowing.…

    • 1120 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    The symbolism of the house and the wallpaper emerges as it shows the start of the obsession that the narrator feels about being trapped and feeling isolated from the rest of the society. The absence of friends in her life leaves the narrator to deal with the voices that she is hearing in her head. Arguably the voices stem from the voices shape her thoughts. The yellow wallpaper on the wall is significant as the narrator feelings of isolation are similar to the struggles of the women to get out of the picture. The internal monologue increases the madness in the narrator as she transfers her thoughts of her passivity into dreaming of ways that she could use to make her condition…

    • 1499 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Their characters are resolute in handling their situation, determined to free themselves. Unfortunately, they only ensnare themselves further. Gilman’s character is unable to say or write what she genuinely thinks of her husband, possibly out of a sense of love. However, she unintentionally reveals her genuine opinion when she describes the yellow wallpaper in her bedroom. Despite writing that her husband “loves [her] very dearly and hates to have [her] sick,” she states how she “get[s] positively angry with the impertinence of [the wallpaper] and the everlasting of it” (Gilman).…

    • 1247 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The narrator is different from the typical woman at this time and she resents the men for their pressures put on her. She is clearly educated and curious and she is oppressed because of her fate of being born a woman. Her husband and her brother who are both doctors disregard her thoughts and her worries. The men all around her are convincing her that she is crazy and irrational so she is becoming insane. She feels unsafe to express her worries because of their threats and judgements, “Because she does not feel free to speak truthfully ‘to a living soul’ she confides to a journal -- Dead paper-- instead.…

    • 1063 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Through the Narrator’s relationship with her husband, how the narrator changes through out the story, and the symbolism behind the yellow wallpaper, the female struggle is shown very obviously. The Author, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, never directly says her opinions about the female struggle and how women should be treated in society but shows her opinions and thoughts to the reader through character development, and symbolism. Through the narrator the reader can see into a world of insanity, and depression. The narrator although she is not one hundred percent trust worthy at sometimes really shows the reader what the world is like when you have no control over your life and you are on the brink of insanity. Through character to character relations, and character development the struggle women face in this time period is very…

    • 1725 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    She hates the wallpaper at first but becomes more intrigued with it when she sees a woman trapped within its design. The narrator describes this woman by saying “And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern—it strangles so,” (Gilman, par. 192). She sympathizes with this image as she herself feels trapped and unable to escape her situation.…

    • 967 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    Gilman expresses a story about a female’s battles opposed to social ‘standards’ and male-centric thinking, this story is also a feminist text. The content might be uncertain to the readers who are new to Gilman 's personal life story and politics, yet, it inspires the audience with the childish treatment of the main character, which stays anonymous in the content. To the unintended readers, the story is one of a decent sense, yet domineering husband who makes his wife angry trying to help her, yet the story demonstrates how recognized protocols of behavior can have a shocking effect the lady of Gilman 's period, paying little mind to the goals of the purveyor. Through the late 20th century standards, the conduct of John, the spouse, appears to be shockingly restrictive and inappropriate, however, was considered very ordinary in the nineteenth…

    • 1829 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    "The Yellow Wallpaper" is about a lady made crazy by post pregnancy anxiety and an unsafe treatment. Be that as it may, an examination of the hero 's portrayal uncovers that the story is in a general sense about personality. The hero 's projection of a nonexistent lady — which at first is just her shadow — against the bars of the wallpaper 's example sections her personality, disguising the contention she encounters and in the long run prompting the complete breakdown of the limits of her character and that of her anticipated shadow. Continually alone and taboo to abandon her room, the absence of something to involve her time makes the hero get to be preposterous. With "banned windows for little youngsters and rings and things in the dividers"…

    • 1477 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays