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Literary Devices in "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perk

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Lynn Alkhalil

on 10 October 2013

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Transcript of Literary Devices in "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perk

Literary Devices in "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
"You see he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do?" (pg. 1)
"If a physician...assures friends that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression--a slight hysterical tendency-- what is one to do?" (pg. 1)
"Personally, I disagree with their ideas. But what is one to do?" (pg. 1)
The repetition of the phrase "What is one to do?" helps characterize the narrator as confused, helpless, and even oppressed by her husband. By continuously repeating this phrase, the narrator establishes herself as weak and unable to stand up to her husband's seemingly unfair and negligent treatment.
"It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following...and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide-- plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions." (pg. 2)
Here, the author uses an antithesis in order to better describe the misshapen and chaotic nature of the wallpaper, as the narrator sees it. The narrator describes the lines as "dull" yet immediately goes on to say that they "plunge off at outrageous angles" and "destroy themselves". The juxtaposed descriptions of the wallpaper paired with the macabre adjectives the narrator uses all help the reader develop an understanding of the narrator's perspective.
"The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow..." (pg. 2)
"It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others." (pg. 2)"
"The outside pattern is a florid arabesque, reminding one of a fungus." (pg. 6)

In this passage, cacophony is used to create imagery and establish mood and tone in the story. Gilman's word choice consisting of strong, descriptive words establishes a tone of disgust and detestation toward the wallpaper. Words such as "repellent", "revolting", "sickly", and "fungus" are all examples of cacophony that influence the reader to understand how the narrator feels about the wallpaper, and how she sees it. The use of cacophony in this passage also contributes to the imagery established. Gilman uses strong words to create a visual for the reader, and to portray the repugnance and distastefulness of the wallpaper itself.
Gilman uses personification to compare the wallpaper and its stench to an annoying, creepy matter that seems to always be one step ahead of the narrator. The use of personification establishes the wallpaper and its attributes to be stalker-like, as if the narrator will never be free from it.
Gilman uses a variety of literary devices to better characterize and identify the setting, meaning, symbols, and protagonist in "The Yellow Wallpaper".
Antithesis
Repetition
Cacophony
Metaphor
The woman in the wallpaper is the major metaphor in "The Yellow Wallpaper". The woman represents the narrator, and her struggles through dealing with her husband's oppression. The woman is behind bars in the wallpaper, which draws a parallel to the narrator, who constantly feels trapped because of her husband's treatment.
"At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candlelight, lamp light, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be." (pg. 7)
Personification
"It creeps all over the house. I find it hovering in the dining room lying in wait for me on the stairs. It gets into my hair." (pg. 7)

"You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns a back somersault and there you are." (pg. 6)
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