Themes In The Yellow Wallpaper

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Throughout short fiction, Charlotte Gilman is most famously noted for her ability to create strong gothic themes in her writing. This is especially true in her 1890s story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Overall, an important theme in Charlotte Gilman short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” is that when combined, isolation and oppression often lead to negative consequences such as insanity and mental instability. Gilman achieves this through her thorough use of symbolism and settings that helps to highlight and establish the overall theme. As often seen in the 1800s, the role in which women played amongst society was often minuscule, and unheard of compared to their male counterparts. This is exactly the case in Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” In a time…show more content…
“If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there really is nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression-a slight hysterical tendency- what is one to do?” (Gilman 317) Confined in the upstairs bedroom, left to just her thoughts and shreds of grotesque yet enchanting wallpaper, Jane begins to slip into a downward spiral of insanity and depression. Gilman in turn uses this setting of the dilapidated nursery in order to express the extent of solitude Jane experiences when left alone that leads to her mental instability. Not only is Jane separated from the main floor of the house, the home is located in the country, miles from any town or society. Gilman does this in order to express the lack of social interaction Jane experiences in general, and on a regular basis. With walls covered in shredded wallpaper, the nursery Gilman describes is far from being appealing. “The wallpaper, as I said before, is torn off in spots… Then the floor is scratched and gouged and splintered, the plaster itself is dug out here and there, and this great heavy bed which is all we found in the room, looks as if it had been through the wars.” (Gilman 320) Confined in a room that only has an old bed and desk, Jane has little to do other than write, and fantasize about the images that she begins to see in the wallpaper. By providing minimalistic furniture, Gilman adds to the overall setting of isolation. Not only is Jane cutoff from society, but bars on the windows prevent her physical escape. Gilman notes this key feature in order to show how the narrator can look upon the outside world, but yet not fully participate. Through the use of setting, Gilman directly shows the effect of janes seclusion that eventually leads to her own
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