Irony In The Yellow Wallpaper

What is the irony in "The Yellow Wallpaper"?

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mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One irony of Charlotte Perkins's disturbing story is the fact that if the narrator were empowered to choose her means of recovery, then she probably would have cured herself, rather than having fallen victim to terrible repression and later to what one critic calls "the seduction of insanity." Her nervous condition worsens because neither the husband, who is a physician nor the attending doctor understands her sensitive and artistic nature. Thus, the two physicians are a negative, rather than a positive influence on her.

When the narrator, who suffers from post-partum depression, is prescribed...

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There are three types of irony. Verbal irony is when someone says something but means something else, this has been modernized under the name of sarcasm. Dramatic irony is when their is a contrast between the reader's knowledge and what the characters know. Situational irony refers to when a character's actions have the opposite effect of what they intend.

All three types of irony are shown in The Yellow Wallpaper. Verbal irony occurs when she says "I am glad my case is not serious" when her case is clearly severe and she understands that.

Dramatic irony is shown when the narrator thinks the room she has been condemned to was once a nursery when it is clear to the reader that the room used to house an insane person. 

Situational irony is shown when John's treatment backfires worsening his condition and driving his wife insane.

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