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In "The Yellow Wallpaper" story what is the narrator's setting?(please include some...

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anata111 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 31, 2012 at 11:54 PM via web

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In "The Yellow Wallpaper" story what is the narrator's setting?

(please include some description)

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ltiffany | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted April 1, 2012 at 12:20 AM (Answer #1)

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"The Yellow Wallpaper" takes place in the late 1800s in the United States.  Specifially, the narrator is in a vacation home.  Much of the narration is about one specific bedroom in the home.

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted April 1, 2012 at 12:31 AM (Answer #2)

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In the very beginning of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story "The Yellow Wallpaper" the unnamed first person narrator, a woman who is about to take rest for post partum blues, first describes their remote temporary lodging as follows:

 It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer.

    A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity but that would be asking too much of fate!

This shows us that the narrator is of a well-to-do family who has even left homes for her and her husband, John. Moreover, it is a home whose isolation and style entails Gothic characteristics.

[...] It is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village. It makes me think of English places that you read about, for there are hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses for the gardeners and people.[...] There were greenhouses, too, but they are all broken now.

[...] there is something strange about the house -- I can feel it.

The room in which the woman is placed to "rest" also presents traits of desolation and abandonment that further denote Gothic tendencies. However, it is ironic how the room is meant to be of a glowing, yellow hue since it once had been a nursery. Yet, even these innocent qualities do not take away from its ugliness. Our narrator absolutely hates that paper.

    It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with windows that look all ways, and air and sunshine galore.

    The paint and paper look as if a boys' school had used it. It is stripped off -- the paper -- in great patches all around the head of my bed, about as far as I can reach, and in a great place on the other side of the room low down. I never saw a worse paper in my life.

We know that her obsession commences shortly after her entrance in the room, and that the story ends with her final breakdown. This shows that the room, as she claims, has some form of "evil" in it that annoys and worries her. It is all part of her own personal needs and psychological imbalance; a need to liberate the woman within from the entrapment of that yellow and cruelly isolated room.

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