Symbolism in "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

Essay by linz40College, UndergraduateA, April 2003

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"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a short story of a woman who is said to have "temporary nervous depression" in the nineteenth century (Gilman 92). She and her husband, John, rent a house for three months while theirs is being renovated during the summer. John is a physician, and he believes if his wife gets plenty of rest and fresh air in this secluded atmosphere, her nervous disorder will greatly improve. However, staying in the house and in the specific room she sleeps in only makes the woman go insane. Gilman uses symbols illustrating the specific mind set the woman has throughout the story. The author does this to make her point clear to the readers about the way men act towards women during this time period.

At the beginning of this narrative, she is writing about the house they are staying in. A house is usually something that represents a safe place for people to be in because it is their own.

This house that they are living in does not belong to them. A symbol that represents how the house may not be a safe place for the woman to be living in is when we are told that her room has bars on the windows. The woman says, "It was nursery first, and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge, for the windows are barred for little children..." (Gilman 93). This suggests that the room is not safe so bars had to be placed on the windows.

This house is set back from the street and basically from everything else. "The most beautiful place! It is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village" (Gilman 92). Since the house is isolated, it symbolizes an isolated environment in...