Physical Entrapment In The Yellow Wallpaper, By John Gilman

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Gilman also highlights a lack of identity of the narrator through the setting of the novella which reflects the narrator’s societal confinement. The protagonist is surrounded by “hedges and walls and gates that lock”, which create a sense of separation that the narrator feels from others and the outside world. In addition, the room in which she is confined contains a “heavy bedstead, and… barred windows, and then that gate at the head of the stairs, and so on”. These physical and ‘prison-like’ restrictions imposed on the protagonist clearly demonstrate her lack of freedom. Additionally, Gilman’s use of syndetic listing to describe the narrator’s physical entrapment is perhaps reflective of her feelings of suffocation and her inability to escape as the list feels never ending. Essentially, it is the physical and subsequent metaphorical entrapment of the female protagonist by her husband in The Yellow Wallpaper that leads to a loss of her identity. In addition to physical descriptions, a sense of identity can be established through the delivery of relationships with others, and moral beliefs. In The Yellow Wallpaper, the interplay of characters plays a key role in defining the narrator’s identity through the imbalance of power in her marriage with John. Gilman arguably presents the narrator’s descent into madness through her inability to create a new identity counter to John’s entrapment of her. At the beginning of the novella, the protagonist is able to recognise that more
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