Symbolism in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper"

Essay by SpudfishCollege, UndergraduateA+, March 2002

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In literature, many authors use the technique of using symbolism to help their point come across to the reader. Symbols are objects that take on more than their obvious meaning. Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses symbolism in many of her works. Her most famous symbolic story is ?The Yellow Wallpaper.? Gilman experienced post part-um depression after her daughter Katherine was born. The treatment she was prescribed became the basis for this spectacular story. In ?The Yellow Wallpaper,? the depression the woman feels is symbolized through the visions of the woman she sees in the wallpaper.

A woman goes through a lot when they are expecting a child. However, no one thinks about what can happen to a woman after the child is born. The pain they feel after the child arrives can be almost as painful as the birth itself. This is the type of pain the main character, who is equivalent to Gilman, is feeling.

Her treatment was called the rest cure. Her and her relations take the summer at an isolated country mansion. The woman and her husband move into the nursery at the top of the house. The room becomes her prison. The main character describes the wallpaper as ?repellent, almost revolting? (Gilman 471). The wallpaper becomes her madness.

Shadows cast from the bars on the windows sets the stage for her adventure. The woman?s journey into madness begins with her first visions in the wallpaper. ?There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down? (472). In this one statement, she acknowledges the idea the room is alive. Day after day the eyes move and become a woman trapped inside the wallpaper, tormenting her. Her visions became even more animated when she envisioned...