Tone in The Short Story "The Yellow Wallpaper"

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About this sample


Words: 522 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

Words: 522|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Jun 14, 2024

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," the tone plays a crucial role in conveying the narrator's descent into madness. This essay will explore the various tones present in the story and their impact on the overall narrative. By examining the oppressive and sinister tone, the desperate and frantic tone, and the liberated and triumphant tone, we can understand how Gilman uses tone to highlight the narrator's mental deterioration and eventual liberation. Ultimately, this analysis will reveal how tone contributes to the deeper themes of gender oppression, mental health, and the power of self-expression in "The Yellow Wallpaper."

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The oppressive and sinister tone is evident from the beginning of the story. The narrator describes the house as having "something queer about it," creating an atmosphere of unease (Gilman). This tone is reinforced by the yellow wallpaper itself, which is described as "dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study" (Gilman). The repetitive patterns of the wallpaper mirror the narrator's own confinement and entrapment. This oppressive and sinister tone contributes to the sense of isolation and captivity the narrator experiences, emphasizing the oppressive nature of her environment.

As the story progresses, the desperate and frantic tone intensifies. The narrator becomes fixated on the wallpaper, stating, "I never saw a worse paper in my life" (Gilman). Her obsession with the wallpaper reflects her deteriorating mental state and growing desperation to escape her confinement. The tone becomes increasingly frantic as she exclaims, "I've got out at last, in spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!" (Gilman). This desperate and frantic tone highlights the narrator's growing madness and her desperate attempts to regain control over her own life.

Towards the end of the story, the tone shifts to a liberated and triumphant one. The narrator's obsession with the wallpaper reaches its climax when she fully identifies with the woman trapped behind it. She states, "I've got out at last, and I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back" (Gilman). This declaration signifies her liberation from the confines of societal expectations and her triumph over her own mental illness. The tone becomes triumphant as she proclaims, "I've got out in spite of you and Jane!" (Gilman). This liberated and triumphant tone conveys the narrator's newfound freedom and her ability to assert herself in a society that seeks to confine and silence her.

In "The Yellow Wallpaper," tone serves as a powerful tool in conveying the narrator's journey from oppression to liberation. The oppressive and sinister tone at the beginning sets the stage for the narrator's descent into madness, while the desperate and frantic tone reflects her growing desperation to escape her confinement. Finally, the liberated and triumphant tone signifies her ultimate triumph over societal expectations and her own mental illness. Through these various tones, Gilman effectively explores themes of gender oppression, mental health, and the power of self-expression. The story serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of maintaining one's autonomy and fighting against the constraints imposed by society.

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Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper." 1892.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Tone in the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”. (2024, Jun 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 20, 2024, from
“Tone in the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”.” GradesFixer, 14 Jun. 2024,
Tone in the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Jul. 2024].
Tone in the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 14 [cited 2024 Jul 20]. Available from:
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