A major theme in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is tha solitary confinement and exclusion from the public results in insanity. The use o imagery and setting helps illustrate this theme throughout the story. The unnamed protagonist in this story suffers from a nervous disorder which i enhanced by her feeling of being trapped within a room.
The setting of the vast colonia mansion and particularly the nursery room with barred windows provides an image o loneliness and seclusion experienced by the protagonist. Another significant setting i the mansion connected by a “shaded lane” (66) to the beautiful bay and private wharf. I is possible that in her mind, she sees a path which leads to the curing of her illness wher happiness and good health awaits at the end. The reason the lane is “shaded” is becaus she is uncertain whether or not this path can be traveled. Upon moving into the mansion, she immediately becomes obsessed with th nursery room wallpaper with “sprawling, flamboyant patterns committing every artisti sin” (64).
Her days and nights are so uneventful that she finds relief in writing a journa which becomes more tiresome as her sickness progresses. In every few paragraphs in he journal, she analyzes the wallpaper. Through the imagery she evokes from the wallpaper it can be seen that she is really analyzing herself and her illness subconsciously. Fo example, she begins to see “a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure that seems t skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design” (67). She describes he illness (as seen in the wallpaper) as “not arranged on any laws of radiation, or alternation or repetition, or symmetry, or anything else that I ever heard of” (68).
In other words, sh cannot make any sense of what is causing her illness. A pivotal moment in the story is when the woman protagonist is concerned onl with the yellow wallpaper in her journal. In lieu of her obsession with the wallpaper, sh becomes engaged in the actions of the women she sees in the wallpaper which, of course is really her own actions. The women “is all the time trying to climb through [th wallpaper]” (72). At this moment, she is desperate to escape her illness but she is unabl to because her confinement in the room has already affected her more so than sh realizes.
The imagery of this situation is described when “the pattern strangles [th women] off and turns them upside down, and makes their eyes white!” (72). In the end or in her last day at the mansion, the isolation intensifies her illness t the point where she is no longer curable and insanity takes over. The protagonist finall recognizes the fact that the women she witnesses is really her own frame of mind an proclaims “I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that i hard!” (75). She believes that she has at last gained her freedom from the illness when i reality, the exact opposite has occurred.