What Is The Importance Of Irony In The Yellow Wallpaper?

Updated 30 September, 2023
Irony is the major stylistic device in The Yellow Wallpaper. The main irony of the story is that when John’s treatment is supposed to help the narrator, it backfires and it worsenes the depression that he is trying to cure. The narrator also uses irony to convey the idea of women’s imprisonment in society.
Detailed answer:

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.
Notably, the narrator finds it hard to speak up her mind because she fears her husband would always find a way of making her feel guilty. It sounds ironical in the sense that the narrator could not feel free to talk about some issue in her marriage, as it should be the case. In essence, it would have been easy for the narrator to speak out her mind if there was gender equality in the house. Nonetheless, the influence of her husband is so strong that he controls her thoughts, even when he was away. John’s constant use of sweat words made the narrator to find it hard in regards to accepting her predicaments. At some point, John told her not to think about her condition, something which is very difficult for any person in such a situation. Consequently, the narrator ought to have known that her husband was not treating her right; therefore, she is to be blamed to some extent.
Through the use of rich motifs and literary devices the story is inarguably bringing to light the oppressive treatment that women were subjected to in the United States and internationally. The author's utilization of dramatic irony to illustrate the extent of which her imprisonment had stultified her perspective of the treatment and views of her husband.

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