Characterization of Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s Story The Yellow Wallpaper

Furthermore she has characterized the narrator in a way that does not necessarily permit the readers to detach themselves from the narrator’s self. Charlotte’s characterization is so effective that the essences of feminism, patriarchy, male domination, male chauvinism, women’s inferiority, subjugated and subordinate status, etc seem to have been distilled into the central two characters of the story, the narrator and her husband. Normally in a work of fiction one of the ways of characterizing a narrator is to let the reader view the intended character through other characters’ eye. But in Gilman’s story, the narrator is self-evident. In the story, the pronoun I refers to the narrator. This I, having no name, appears to be a universal and asexual one throughout the most part of the story. Indeed Charlotte puts much and her most valuable effort to characterize the speaking I of the story. While reading the story, any reader, male or female, would easily merge himself or herself with the narrator’s self. Charlotte has made this possible through the characterization of an apparently asexual narrator through the use of I that is both semantically and epistemologically asexual. Charlotte’s readers also go through the story almost asexually until they are reminded of the narrator’s gender several times through another counter-character John’s use of gendered pronouns, ‘her’. Indeed because of the apparent asexuality of the narrator’s character, even a male reader can easily perceive the trammeled situation and paranoia of the narrator. Indeed the I seems to be the manifestation of the narrator’s existence. But a close analysis will convince an astute reader to believe that the narrator never exists. Rather the story is a form of fantasy literature. The characterization of the narrator takes a fully new turn at the end of the story, when the narrator says, 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! (The Yellow Wallpaper) These lines show that the narrator has been able to detach herself from Jane, the traditional wifehood, which put a woman in a situation like the woman’s in the yellow wallpaper. Indeed through the progress of the story, the narrator began to assimilate herself with the imaginary woman in the wallpaper. Indeed through her technique of characterization, Charlotte purposefully forces the readers to ask who this narrator or the I is. Unexpectedly the answer is supposed to be that the narrator is the victim of social injustice and male chauvinism. Charlotte Gilman has manipulated some other literary elements and techniques to characterize both the narrator and her husband John. While she has manipulated ironies, situational and verbal, to portray the ironical and paradoxical aspects of patriarchy through the characterization of John, she has used the symbolism of the ‘yellow wallpaper’, John’s house, etc to characterize the narrator. The situational irony that tends to portray the narrator’s husband John is that he thinks of her as one who is feeble, biologically incapable and childish. But internally the protagonist of the story believes that she is capable of doing anything she likes. Being