Significance In The Gothic Setting of “The Yellow Wallpaper” Gothic literature is extremely unique. There is a sort of formula included with writing in the Gothic design, and among the most essential aspects of this is the setting, which can consist of anything from the architecture of the buildings to the color of the leaves on the trees. The setting of a story is an important element, as it would seem to be that the most efficient way of drawing someone into the story would be permitting them to imagine it, and it’s a lot easier to imagine something when it has been explained.
The setting can also be utilized as a source of significance, which is really apparent in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. As the story is composed in journal entries, the meaning is not as easily stated as it can be in third-person, however is included through the description of the setting. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a prime example of the Gothic setting and the importance it can have.
Gilman makes the design of her story really clear from right from the first page. The building the narrator explains is a “colonial estate … a haunted home” (Gilman 83), which is extremely common of Gothic literature. Gothic buildings tend to be castles and are typically old, decrepit, or haunted. This home is “an Americanized, domesticated format of the physically charged objected to castle” (Carol Davison). The grand colonial mansion on a large block of land looks like a more modern castle, which offers the sensation that your house is looming, stuffy, and, for absence of a better term, creepy. Though the storyteller does say that your house is not actually haunted, she does state that “there is something odd about the house” (Gilman 84). This lets the reader know that this story will have strange components to it, which is normal of Gothic literature.
The lead character does not walk about the house too much, as she remains in solitude in her room for most of the story, but when she does,” [her] exploration, frequently in the evening, of the obviously haunted Castle’s maze-like interior includes confrontation with mysteries whose supreme unravelling represents a self-discovery” (Carol Davison). As she ends up being less and less sent to prison in your home and more involved with the wallpaper, she finds a sense of freedom. The setting is most clearly revealed to be that of Gothic literature through the furniture in your home that the lead character is remaining in. Lots of things about the room that the protagonist is remaining in represent jail time, which is a typical theme in Gothic literature. Gilman states that “the windows are disallowed” (84 ), which instantly offers the reader an idea of not being able to get away. The bed in the space “is pin down” (Gilman 88), which is likewise apart of the idea of jail.
The unmovable bed foreshadows the solitude of the protagonist, as she becomes taken in by the wallpaper and does not leave the bed room. Each product of furniture in the room is used to signify something, as “the bars on the window recommend the trapped nature of female gender roles. The window represents flexibility” (Conrad Shumaker). In addition to this, the rooms is described to have “rings and things in the walls” (Gilman 84). Though there are a few different reasons there would be rings, among them might be that the room used to be a sort of prison or torture chamber, which would indicate the rings were used for chains of sorts. This description would harmonize the concept that the space that the protagonist occupies ends up being a jail for her. Along with the theme of imprisonment, much of the setting and it’s description signifies the seclusion that the protagonist faces. When stating the place of your home, it is referred to as “quite alone … quite 3 miles from the village” (Gilman 83). This is how isolation is first introduced, and it is rather literal. Much of this style of jail time is consisted of to represent female injustice.
Of course, the greatest element of the setting of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is, in fact, the yellow wallpaper. The storyteller specifies that she “never saw an even worse paper in [her] life” (Gilman 84). The in-depth description of the paper tells the reader how terrible it is to the protagonist. Her method of explaining it makes it nearly more spooky than awful, as she says “when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they all of a sudden dedicate suicide” (Gilman 85). The lead character of this story is sick, more than likely psychologically ill, but her other half, who is likewise her doctor, refuses to believe that the sickness is anything however physical. This little nod in the wording toward a mental disorder ties the wallpaper into her sickness. K.V. Rama Rao observes that her description is “practically like an esoteric conceit obliquely suggestive of the condition of women.
These are not words generally utilized to explain wallpaper.” The paper is plainly symbolic of various things. It is among the many things that leads back to Gilman’s position as a feminist. In the story, “the narrator represents male fears about femininity and female sexuality. [Female sexuality is] represented by the color yellow and the odor of the wallpaper” (Mary Jacobus). As the story continues, the paper “becomes a phantasmagoria screen onto which is predicted her sense of her circumstance” (Carol Davison). The protagonist considers it as a living being, as it has an effect on her and “takes a look at [her] as if it knew what a vicious influence it had” (Gilman 86). The lead character likewise starts to see an individual in the wallpaper, and she is “quite sure it is a lady” (Gilam 92). The paper takes over her life, as does the lady she sees in the paper.
This obsession is because of her being separated in the bed room, which ties back to the entire room being a jail for the storyteller. In more description of the paper, it is described that “in the evening in any sort of light … it becomes bars … and the lady behind it is as plain as can be” (Gilman 92). As we can see, the paper is being used to signify jail time, and “these words are a clear statement of the author about females– the woman is behind the bars constructed by society!” (Rama). The author makes a clever move in her descriptions by discussing a few different subjects in her significance. Not just does she consist of the style of imprisonment to show the effects of seclusion on psychological clients, however also to recommend the significance of gender equality, as women are sent to prison by the functions society positions them into.
Rao, K. V. Rama. “The Yellow Wallpaper– A Dynamic Symbol: A Research Study Of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Story.” Poetcrit 19.1 (2006 ): 38-44. Literary Reference Center Plus. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Wiedemann, Barbara. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Short Fiction: A Crucial Buddy (1997 ): 64-72. Literary Referral Center Plus. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Davison, Carol Margaret. “Haunted House/Haunted Heroine: Female Gothic Closets In “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Women’s Studies 33.1 (2004 ): 47-75. Literary Recommendation Center Plus. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Gilman, Charlotte P. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Literature: A Pocket Anthology. Boston: Longman, 2012. 82-97. Print.