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What are some literary devices in the story "The Yellow Wallpaper"?

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villacar | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 29, 2008 at 12:43 PM via web

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What are some literary devices in the story "The Yellow Wallpaper"?

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morrol | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted December 1, 2008 at 2:52 AM (Answer #1)

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This story uses many literary devices in order to be effective. Firstly, its narrative style is a first person stream on consciousness. This style makes the protagonist seem unbalanced, diluted, and confused.

The story also contains several symbols. The yellow wallpaper itself symbolizes the psychological state of the narrator. The nursery is also a symbol of society's treatment of women as juveniles. The barred windows symbolize entrapment, or the prison of the room or mind. 

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teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted July 21, 2015 at 4:33 PM (Answer #2)

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Some literary devices in The Yellow Wallpaper are:

1) Polysyndeton- this is what is termed as a scheme of repetition. It deliberately utilizes the repetition of many conjunctions:

So I take phosphates or phosphites—whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to "work" until I am well again.

Here, the author is pained by the complete insensitivity of her physician husband; he has marginalized her suffering by claiming that she is not sick at all. The use of many conjunctions signal her sense of despair and overwhelm at being inundated with remedies that she knows are useless in curing her present dilemma.

2) Anaphora- this is another scheme of repetition. It repeats beginning words or word phrases of successive clauses. It is a literary device that produces a strong emotional effect. Here, the author is pleading her own case.

Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.

I don't know why I should write this. I don't want to. I don't feel able.

3) Parenthesis: this is a scheme of word order that veers from the traditional structure. Interjections of the author's voice appeal to our pity; we are given a glimpse into her mental suffering and emotional anguish. Below, we almost hear her desperation at being labeled 'hysterical.' She is also suspicious of the house and how her stay there will affect her.

If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do?

I am afraid, but I don't care—there is something strange about the house—I can feel it.

4) Parallelism: this is a scheme of balance. It presents a similar structure in terms of phrasing and clause construction. It contributes to the rhythm in sentences and it also emphasizes similarities. This short story has many examples of parallelisms.

It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you.

There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a temperament like yours.

The color is hideous enough, and unreliable enough, and infuriating enough, but the pattern is torturing. (this is a tricolon, a type of isocolon. Isocolons are a type of parallelism. Isocolons are not only similar in structure, they are also similar in length).

Hope this helps!

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