What Are The Best Examples Of Figurative Language In The Yellow Wallpaper?

Updated 30 September, 2023
In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the author uses figurative language to allude to the oppressive treatment of women during that era. Deep levels of irony, plus the usage of metaphors and repetition are utilized to illustrate this oppression that the fictional narrator and real women of that era endured.
Detailed answer:

The theme of illustrating women’s subjugation is inarguably seen throughout the works of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, especially in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, which through the use of many motifs and figurative language clearly alludes to the oppressive treatment of women during that era.
First of all, irony is meant to convey the opposite of what is being said. Gilman uses this to describe the affairs of marriage in stating that the narrator’s husband “..laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage”. This use of irony is meant to illustrate the common view of a woman’s opinion in marriage during the author’s era. Gilman uses dramatic Irony to allude to the oppressive treatment of women by writing 'Dear John! He loves me very dearly and hates to have me sick. I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day…'. It is clear to the reader his treatment is not very loving, however the narrator’s convoluted point of view can not see things this way.
The device verbal of repetition is used to outline the lack of options that women had during this period within the United States mental health system. The repetition of the phrase “can do” can be seen multiple times in the story when the author writes 'You see he does not believe I am sick! And what can one do..”, also the quote “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?..” and the quote 'Personally, I disagree with their ideas. But what is one to do'. Bringing to light the lack of choice women had with their health during this period of time. She is asking the reader, “what can the narrator really do in this situation?”.
Finally, Charlotte Gilman uses many metaphors throughout her work. One example is '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'. Saying the moonlight transforming into bars is meant to signify her imprisonment and is not to be taken literally, while the phrase about the woman behind the bars is describing the similarity of her situation to the woman behind the wallpaper.
To sum up, through the use of literary devices the story is inarguably bringing to light the oppressive treatment that women were subjected to. The use of repetition is to present the lack of options that a woman had in this era. Dramatic irony illustrates the extent of which her imprisonment had stultified her perspective of the treatment and views of her husband. Finally, the usage of metaphors greatly enriches the story and helps readers to understand the true meaning behind the woman in the wallpaper.

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