Diction in "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 597 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 597|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body
  3. Conclusion
  4. Bibliography


The use of diction in literature plays a significant role in shaping the overall meaning and impact of a text. In "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the author employs a deliberate choice of words to convey the protagonist's descent into madness and to critique the societal constraints imposed on women during the late 19th century. This essay will explore the various instances of diction within the story, analyzing their implications and providing evidence from credible sources to support the argument that diction serves as a powerful tool in conveying the themes and messages of the narrative.

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The first instance of noteworthy diction in "The Yellow Wallpaper" can be found in the opening paragraphs, where the narrator describes the house they are staying in for the summer. The choice of words, such as "queer," "haunted," and "unclean," immediately conveys a sense of unease and sets a gloomy tone for the story (Gilman, 1892). This diction foreshadows the protagonist's deteriorating mental state and establishes a sense of confinement and oppression, mirroring the societal expectations placed upon women during this time period.

Furthermore, the author's use of specific vocabulary to describe the yellow wallpaper itself enhances the reader's understanding of the protagonist's mental state. The narrator refers to the wallpaper as "revolting," "repellant," and "lurid," emphasizing its grotesque and unsettling nature (Gilman, 1892). This diction reflects the protagonist's growing obsession with the wallpaper and her descent into madness. The vivid and disturbing language employed by Gilman serves to immerse the reader in the narrator's deteriorating mental state and creates a sense of discomfort and unease.

Another aspect of diction in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is the author's use of medical terminology, which adds to the story's critique of the patriarchal medical establishment. The narrator describes her husband, who is also her physician, as "practical in the extreme" and "very careful and loving," employing words that initially convey a sense of trust and authority (Gilman, 1892). However, as the story progresses, the diction used to describe her husband becomes more sinister, with the narrator referring to him as a "doctor of high standing" who is "sympathetic" but "absolutely firm" in his beliefs (Gilman, 1892). This shift in diction highlights the oppressive nature of the medical treatment imposed on the protagonist, as well as the power dynamics within her marriage.

Additionally, the choice of words used by the protagonist herself reflects her growing sense of isolation and confinement. As she becomes more fixated on the wallpaper and her own descent into madness, her diction becomes increasingly fragmented and disjointed. She describes herself as being "caught," "shut up," and "peering" through the wallpaper (Gilman, 1892). This fragmented diction mirrors her fragmented state of mind and highlights her struggle to maintain a sense of self within the oppressive environment she finds herself in.


In "The Yellow Wallpaper," Charlotte Perkins Gilman effectively utilizes diction to convey the themes of confinement, oppression, and the protagonist's descent into madness. Through careful word choices, the author creates a sense of unease, reflects the societal constraints placed upon women, and critiques the oppressive nature of the medical establishment. The use of diction enhances the reader's understanding of the protagonist's mental state and immerses them in the story's unsettling atmosphere. By analyzing the various instances of diction within the text, this essay has demonstrated the significant role of language in shaping the meaning and impact of a literary work.

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Gilman, C. P. (1892). "The Yellow Wallpaper." The New England Magazine, 5(3), 647-656.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Diction in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 13, 2024, from
“Diction in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
Diction in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 13 Jul. 2024].
Diction in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 13]. Available from:
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