“The characterisation. Gilman follows the conventions of the
“The Yellow Wallpaper” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s has some elements that link it to the Gothic genre. However, there are features within it that are not directly prescribed in Gothic literature. While “The Yellow Wallpaper” does not conform in all aspects to the conventional definition of the gothic, they lean toward something unknown. The way the protagonist’s husband, John, keeps her in a room to “rest” is haunting enough, but the additional elements within the room and the wallpaper lead to an unsettling feeling that could be described no other way. The Gothic horror story carries conventions in its setting, theme, point of view, and characterisation. Gilman follows the conventions of the Gothic horror story to create feelings of gloom, mystery, and suspense that are essential for a compelling storyline.Gothic novels drew upon the conventions of the medieval romances which tell stories of knights battling with magic and monsters, and the Gothic story often introduced the existence of supernatural elements and a protagonist’s immersion into a dark, horrific realm. The style of Gothic literature tends to be extreme, seemingly uncontrolled and intended to invoke a strong emotional response which might be awe, pity, guilt, horror, or fear.At first glance, her surrounding environment seems to be anything but a frightening gothic setting. The Protagonist describes the scene, “It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with windows that look all ways, and air and sunshine galore.” We learn that it is a converted child’s nursery complete with bars on the windows for the child safety. As the story builds and her isolation proceeds, she becomes terrified by the room, especially the wallpaper, and describes it disturbingly, which we discuss in more detail later. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the journals wrote by the narrator continuously conveys to readers that her emotion and mind is severely influenced by the wallpaper which drives her insane in the end. Yellow Wallpaper has a strong emphasis on emotion, which has a preternatural effect on readers and evokes a sense of terror and awe.Setting in the Gothic horror story is essential as it creates tone and atmosphere in the story. One of the conventional settings in the Gothic horror story is often in a remote locale with an isolated architecture. Gilman follows the conventions of the Gothic tale by setting up the scene as the narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” describes the house and feels its ground has fallen into a slight state of disrepair. “There were greenhouses, too, but they are all broken now. There was some legal trouble, I believe, something about the heirs and co-heirs; anyhow, the place has been empty for years. The spoils my ghostliness, I am afraid, but I don’t care?there is something strange about the house?I can feel it”(Gilman 76). The narrator also complains about the room that she lives in, especially the yellow wallpaper. She mentions about the wallpaper several times, saying that “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”(Gilman 77). Gilman creates the setting that is superficially tranquillity but is a place of confinement. The setting of the “The Yellow Wallpaper” helps to evoke the sense of mystery and intensify the moodAnother of the conventions of the Gothic horror story is that its theme often relates to death, mental illness, and the role of women. Gilman addresses the theme through the lens of madness, depression, and despair. The narrator is suffering from the depression and has been put into a nursery room for recovery. She first finds the yellow wallpaper in the room “revolting” and “repellent.” Gradually, as her mental illness progresses, she visions a trapped woman behind the wallpaper. “I didn’t realise for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman”(Gilman 82) This illusion symbolises the narrator’s emotional and intellectual confinement. Her final breakdown confirms her mental illness and insanity. Gilman likewise addresses the theme of the role of women. The main character in the story is dependent on their family member and are being repressed by them. The narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is being controlled by her husband who does not allow her to write a journal and treats her like a child, calling her “little girl” and “blessed little goose.” Her husband is the final decision maker, and he sets the rules for her. Gothic literature makes serious assertions about woman’s place in society.Blindly blamed on mental illness or a medical condition, the slow deterioration of the protagonist can be traced back to discontentment and entrapment within her marriage. This story illustrates the gradual psychological decline of a woman plagued by the societal designation of who she should be and her role in the marriage and household. The home and marriage are all linked with gothic images that foreshadow the outcome of the main character’s problematic marriage. The narrator’s isolation is brought about at the command of her physician husband, who prescribes her the “resting cure.” She requests that he allow her to move to another room, but he declines. She writes about her request for him to get rid of her torments, “At first he meant to repaper the room, but afterwards he said that I was letting it get the better of me and that nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to give away to such fancies.” He toys with her, giving her hope and then disappointing; he even laughs at her about the wallpaper. He plays the role of the dominant male figure in gothic stories, who forces his female victim into solitude while he is away.The colour of the wallpaper in the room where the protagonist of the story stayed also carries with it some gothic elements. While the gothic is usually described in terms of light and dark, something is menacing about the wallpaper’s yellow colour, representing something stale, old and decayed. The yellow is described as “a smouldering unclean yellow” that is “strangely faded by slow-turning sunlight.” Her use of the word, “smouldering,” meaning being in a state of suppressed activity, suggests she thought the same of her marriage to John. There is also something dark and gothic about the suppression and “unclean” colour. In addition to the colour the of wallpaper, the room in which she’s kept seems to evoke feelings that it’s a haunted space, even if it’s only haunted by the protagonist herself.Gilman chooses a narrator to tell the story, in this way she can present the story from a first-person narrative. The story of “The Yellow Wallpaper” itself is a transcription of a journal that the narrator secretly writes. This journal form of short story provides readers access to the narrator’s thoughts and emotions. Thus, the whole story is full of emotions that are being repressed in front of her husband. As the story goes on, the narrator’s growing feeling of despair and confusion can be seen in her writing. Her sentences become shorter and curter, which means her inability to think clearly. Her emotion is so intense that readers almost are infected by her depression. The characterisation in “The Yellow Wallpaper” unquestionably falls under the conventions of the Gothic horror story. The protagonist is shown as being repressed by the society, which is shown throughout the story that they are often locked themselves in a room. The Gothic horror story often introduces women who are threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male that makes the female characters do something inconceivable. In this case, the female protagonist is being controlled by a male figure, her husband, who both causes her to become submissive and passive when facing him. Because she has been oppressed for long, the character is overcome by anger, sorrow, and especially terror. The narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” continuously gets distracted by the wallpaper and “positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness.” (Gilman 78) Crying and emotional speeches are frequent in the scene. The depressed narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” writes in the journal, “I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time” (Gilman 79). Moreover, the female protagonist has an illness, which is one of common elements in the Gothic horror story. The narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” apparently has mental illness as she admits that she is sick in the journal.I also noticed gothic elements in the fact that the protagonist is nameless and thus, powerless to her predicament. Her repressed desire to leave her marriage makes this item, otherwise not of interest, noteworthy. The overarching idea of being trapped in her marriage and the “great immovable bed” that she’s kept in represents, to me, some non-traditional gothic images.Gothic texts characteristically deal with difficult-to-express issues and anxieties, which make readers curious about the unknown and forbidden. Thus, it can be said that the problems mainly involving oppression and feminism addressed within the short story successfully conform to this genre.Although the characteristics of the female protagonist share the characteristic motifs of the elements of Gothic literature which are vital to every Gothic literature. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is not pure gothic, however, neither can the story be fully understood without looking at it through that lens. As Has been Shown Gilman employs the elements of Gothic horror story in the setting, theme, point of view, and characters to establish the dark tone and suspenseful atmosphere.