Is "The Yellow Wallpaper" an example of cultural modernism?
"The Yellow Wallpaper" is very much written in the modernist mode, as it is the subjective experience of a woman trapped in a patriarchal world that doesn't understand her. Modernism's dictum was, in the words of Ezra Pound, "Make it new," and Gilman does that.
The stream-of-consciousness experience of this piece—in which the camera, so to speak, never pulls away from the narrator's thoughts—highlights the subjectivity of the story being told. This is not nineteenth-century realism , in which an omniscient narrator stands above the action, shows us a scene as it "really" looks, and then...
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Although most scholars view the time period of modernism from the beginning of the 20th century to around 1945, “The Yellow Wallpaper” written in 1892 can be viewed as part of the movement if the focus of the analysis is the rebellion of the main character. The work of Modernist writers reflects the rapid societal changes occurring due to scientific discovery and mechanical innovations. Previous literary periods focused on nature and country life; however, for modernists the simplicity of the genteel life was too limiting. The unnamed female narrator in the story is trapped between the cultural role of a traditional wife and the more independent modern freedom of artistic creation she accesses through her writing. Forbidden to write, the narrator’s confinement in the country does not force her to become a traditional wife but leads to a modernist interpretation of madness.