In the "Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Gilman Perkins, explain the setting and its importance.

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the "Yellow Wallaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the main character, an unnamed wife and recent mother, is suffering from severe depression [post-partum depression].  Her husband has brought her to the country for complete rest and isolation.  This was the accepted treatment for this depressed, nervous state in the late 1800's. 

The woman's husband has rented  an old colonial mansion, described by the protagonist as a haunted house.  It seemed funny in the beginning;  but by the end of the story, the humor has gone. The great house had once been historically beautiful.  Now, the place is somewhat dated.

The young woman hates her isolation in the country.  Made to stay in her room and in most cases in her bed,  the woman begins to fall deeper into depression.  She becomes obsessed with the wall paper in the bed room.  Her senses were overwrought. 

This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had! There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down. I get positively angry. Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd, unblinking eyes are everywhere

Eventually,  the narrator believes that there is a woman living in the wall paper. Her imagination begins to play tricks on her. She begins to gnaw on the furniture and then to tear off the wall paper.

The front pattern does move--and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it!  And she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over.And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern--it strangles so; I think that is why it has so many heads.

At the end of the story, when her husband comes into the room to check on his wife, he discovers how deeply she is lost in madness.  Obviously, the bed rest and staying away from people, did not work for our heroine. Lost in the yellow wallpapered room--the woman  might has left reality so far behind. 

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The Yellow Wallpaper

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