If you’re a fan of classic literature, then there’s a good chance you’re familiar with “The Yellow Wallpaper.” This short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman has become a staple of feminist literature, exploring themes of gender roles and mental health. One of the most fascinating aspects of the story, though, is the use of symbolism throughout. Among the many symbols employed in the story, daylight is perhaps the most prominent. But what does it represent?
For those unfamiliar, “The Yellow Wallpaper” follows the story of a woman who is struggling with mental illness, trapped in a room with yellow wallpaper that begins to have a profound effect on her. As the story progresses, daylight serves as a symbol of hope and freedom. It represents the possibility that the woman might be able to escape her confinement and return to the outside world, free from the oppressive walls that trap her.
At the same time, however, daylight also represents a threat. As the woman’s mental health deteriorates, the bright and cheerful light of day starts to take on a sinister quality. It becomes a reminder of the world outside, a world that she can no longer be a part of. This duality of symbolism is just one of the many reasons why “The Yellow Wallpaper” continues to captivate readers to this day.
Daylight and Freedom
Throughout “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, daylight symbolizes freedom. The narrator, who is suffering from postpartum depression, is confined to her bedroom which has barred windows that prevent sunlight from entering the room. Thus, the only time the narrator is granted access to daylight is when she is allowed to spend time in the garden.
During these moments, the narrator feels liberated from the walls of her bedroom and from the oppressive control of her husband, John. She finds solace in nature and describes the “beautiful old-fashioned garden, so different from the gardens of today” (Gilman, 836).
To the narrator, the garden symbolizes a space where she can be herself and not conform to the expectations of society and her husband. It is a place where she is free from the restraints of her mental illness and can indulge in her desire for freedom.
The garden represents a type of “rest cure” for the narrator, where she can escape the confinement of her bedroom and be embraced by the beauty of nature. However, this freedom is fleeting and only available for a short time.
Overall, daylight is a powerful symbol in “The Yellow Wallpaper” and represents the narrator’s desire for freedom. It is a symbol of hope, escape, and a reminder that there is beauty and power outside of her restricting bedroom.
Daylight and Confinement
One of the central themes of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is the idea of confinement and the impact it can have on the human psyche. The protagonist of the story is confined to a single room in a house, which ultimately leads to her descent into madness. However, there is also a symbolic confinement present in the story, represented by the daylight and its absence.
- Daylight is a symbol of freedom and hope – the warmth and brightness of the sun represent a new day and new opportunities.
- However, in the story, daylight becomes a stifling presence, as the protagonist is unable to escape the confines of her room, even during the day.
- The daylight becomes a constant reminder of her oppressive surroundings and serves to compound her feelings of isolation and helplessness.
Furthermore, the absence of daylight also plays a crucial role in the story’s themes of confinement and oppression.
Without natural light, the protagonist is forced to rely on the artificial lighting of the room which casts eerie shadows and intensifies the feeling of confinement. The darkness becomes a metaphor for her mental state, representing the hopelessness and despair she experiences as a result of her confinement.
|Daylight||Freedom and hope|
|Artificial lighting||Eerie shadows and intensifies feelings of confinement|
|Absence of daylight||Hopelessness and despair|
The contrast between the symbolism of daylight and its absence is a key element of the story’s power, as it speaks to a universal human experience: the desire for freedom and the pain of confinement. By using daylight as a symbol, the story shows the transformative power of light, for better or for worse.
Daylight and Sanity
Throughout “The Yellow Wallpaper,” daylight symbolizes the narrator’s connection to the outside world and to reality. As her mental state deteriorates, she becomes obsessed with the wallpaper and spends more and more time in the dark. However, when she is allowed time outside in the garden or near a window, she feels more grounded and connected to the world around her.
- Daylight represents sanity and clarity.
- Being outside and exposed to natural light reduces stress and improves mood.
- Exposure to artificial light, such as the dim lamp in the narrator’s room, can lead to feelings of isolation and depression.
The narrator’s husband, John, believes that rest and isolation are the best treatments for her “nervous condition,” but this only exacerbates her symptoms. By denying her access to natural light and the outside world, he is contributing to her decline.
It’s worth noting that the sun, a common symbol of light and hope, is never mentioned in the story. This further emphasizes the narrator’s isolation and the darkness of her situation.
|Daylight and Sanity||Points to Consider|
|Daylight as a symbol of sanity||How does the narrator’s relationship with daylight change throughout the story?|
|The importance of exposure to natural light||What effect does being outside have on the narrator’s mental state?|
|The dangers of artificial light||How does the dim lamp in the narrator’s room contribute to her isolation and illness?|
Overall, the significance of daylight in “The Yellow Wallpaper” cannot be overstated. It serves as a reminder of the narrator’s connection to reality and her own sanity, while also highlighting the dangers of isolation and darkness.
Daylight and Control
Daylight is a recurring motif in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” symbolizing both control and confinement. The narrator is confined to her bedroom and denied access to natural light, which represents her lack of control over her own life. However, when she sees the sunlight creeping in through the barred windows, she feels a sense of empowerment and control. It is as if the sunlight is a reminder that the world outside her bedroom still exists and she is not completely trapped.
- Daylight represents the narrator’s desire for control over her own life.
- The lack of access to natural light symbolizes her confinement and lack of autonomy.
- When sunlight is present in the room, the narrator feels a sense of empowerment and control.
The importance of daylight in relation to control is emphasized in the scene where the narrator first sees the sunlight creeping in through the windows. She describes it as a “yellow smell” that “creeps all over the house” (Gilman 4). This personification of the sunlight conveys its significance as a force that invades the narrator’s confined world and provides her with a semblance of control.
Furthermore, the pattern in the wallpaper mirrors the motif of daylight and control. The pattern is described as “slanting rays” and “broken circles” (Gilman 5). This imagery evokes the sense of a fragmented or limited view, similar to the narrator’s own limited access to the outside world. As the story progresses and the narrator becomes increasingly fixated on the wallpaper, she begins to see the pattern as a symbol of her own confinement and lack of control.
|Daylight||Represents the narrator’s desire for control over her own life.|
|Lack of access to natural light||Symbolizes the narrator’s confinement and lack of autonomy.|
|The pattern in the wallpaper||Mirrors the motif of daylight and control, representing the narrator’s own limited view and lack of agency.|
Overall, daylight in “The Yellow Wallpaper” symbolizes the narrator’s desire for control over her own life and her struggle to regain that control in the face of confinement. It is a metaphor for the power dynamic between the narrator and her husband, as well as the societal constraints placed on women during the time period in which the story is set.
Daylight and oppression
The use of daylight in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is significant in revealing the oppression of women during the Victorian era. The story’s protagonist, who is unnamed, is confined to a room with barred windows and is unable to leave. The only source of light is the daylight that filters through the windows. This reflects the restricted and limited access to the outside world that women faced during the time.
The use of daylight also highlights the control and power that men had over women in terms of their physical freedom and mental well-being. The protagonist’s husband, who is also her physician, controls her every move and restricts her from doing anything that might further deteriorate her mental health. The use of daylight symbolizes the power dynamic between the husband and the protagonist, where he holds the key to her freedom and well-being.
Ways in which daylight symbolizes oppression in “The Yellow Wallpaper”
- Daylight highlights the restricted access to the outside world that women faced.
- It reveals the lack of freedom and control women had over their own lives.
- The use of daylight symbolizes the power dynamic between men and women during the Victorian era.
The relationship between daylight and mental health in “The Yellow Wallpaper”
The use of daylight also plays a crucial role in the protagonist’s mental health. Initially, she is drawn to the window where she can see the daylight and the outside world. However, as the story progresses, she becomes more and more fixated on the patterns in the wallpaper, which she believes are moving. This fixation causes her mental health to deteriorate further, and she becomes disconnected from reality.
The changing quality of the daylight also reflects the protagonist’s mental state. At times, the daylight is described as being overpowering and blinding, while at other times it is described as being dim and dull. This reflects the protagonist’s fluctuating mental state as she becomes more and more consumed by her delusions.
Daylight and the symbolism of the “Yellow Wallpaper”
The use of daylight is also significant in the context of the “Yellow Wallpaper” itself. The wallpaper is described as being a “repellent, almost revolting” shade of yellow, and is covered in intricate patterns. As the protagonist becomes more delusional, she becomes fixated on the patterns in the wallpaper, which she believes are moving and changing.
|Symbolism of the Yellow Wallpaper||Interpretation|
|Yellow color||Represents sickness and decay|
|Patterns in the wallpaper||The oppressive nature of societal norms and restrictions placed on women during the Victorian era.|
|Bars on the windows||The physical and mental limitations placed on women during the Victorian era.|
The use of daylight in the story reveals the protagonist’s powerlessness and vulnerability in the face of oppression, both from societal norms and from her controlling husband. It also highlights the detrimental effects that these restrictions had on women’s mental health and well-being.
Daylight and oppression of women
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” daylight symbolizes the oppressive societal expectations placed on women in the 19th century. The narrator, who is suffering from depression and anxiety, is confined to a room with barred windows and a nailed-down bed. Her husband, who is also her physician, forbids her from writing, working, or socializing. The only time she is allowed to leave the room is during the day when the sunlight is shining.
- Daylight represents the limited freedom that women had during this time period. Although the narrator is allowed to physically leave the room, she is still a prisoner of her husband’s expectations and society’s rules for women.
- Moreover, daylight becomes a source of torment for the narrator as she becomes fixated on the yellow wallpaper in the room. The changing patterns of the wallpaper in the sun’s shifting light represent the instability of the narrator’s mental state and her gradual descent into madness.
- Furthermore, the fact that the narrator is only allowed out during the day suggests that women’s identities were tied to their roles as wives and mothers, and that they were not seen as deserving of intellectual or creative pursuits that may have been considered “masculine.”
The oppressive nature of daylight is further emphasized when the narrator describes the “smouldering unclean yellow” of the wallpaper in the evening light, which is when the narrator’s mental state is at its worst. In contrast to the light of day, the darkness of night represents the narrator’s inner turmoil and her desire to escape from the constraints of her life.
|Daylight||Oppressive societal expectations on women|
|Yellow Wallpaper||The narrator’s mental state and descent into madness|
|Night||The narrator’s inner turmoil and desire to escape|
The use of daylight in “The Yellow Wallpaper” highlights the ways in which women’s lives were controlled and limited during the 19th century, and how their mental and emotional wellbeing were not considered as valuable as their physical health.
Daylight and Femininity
Throughout “The Yellow Wallpaper,” daylight represents many different things, but one constant theme is its connection to femininity. Here are some of the ways in which daylight symbolizes femininity:
- Daylight is associated with domestic duties traditionally associated with women, such as cooking, cleaning, and caring for children. The narrator sees the sunlight falling on the “spotless” kitchen floor and thinks of “the endless patterns of the rugs.” In contrast, the room with the yellow wallpaper is dark and “dingy.”
- Daylight is also associated with the outdoors and nature, which were considered “proper” places for women to be in the 19th century. The narrator longs to be outside in the garden, but is confined to the stuffy room with the wallpaper.
- Daylight is seen as a force of rejuvenation and renewal, and women were expected to be nurturing and supportive forces in the home. The narrator wishes for the sunlight to “heal” her and make her well. Her husband, a doctor, also believes in the healing power of fresh air and sunlight, which is why he wants her to rest in the room with the open windows.
Overall, daylight represents the idealized role of women in society during the time period in which “The Yellow Wallpaper” takes place. Women were expected to be happy homemakers, nurturing mothers, and dutiful wives. The narrator’s confinement to a dark, oppressive room represents the limitations placed on women’s freedom and potential by Victorian society.
To further explore the symbolism of daylight in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” consider the following table:
|Daylight||Femininity, domestic duties, nature, renewal, rejuvenation|
|The yellow wallpaper||Restriction, confinement, madness, the limitations placed on women in Victorian society|
|The garden||Freedom, nature, escape from domestic duties|
|The colonial mansion||Oppression, power, control, confinement|
By understanding the symbolism of daylight and other elements in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” readers can gain a deeper appreciation for the themes and message of the story.
Daylight and the patriarchal society
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” daylight represents the constraints of the patriarchal society that the protagonist is trapped in. The daytime is dominated by her husband, John, who is a physician and assumes complete control over her treatment and daily activities. He is the embodiment of the societal norms that limit women’s roles to that of a subordinate, obedient wife.
- The protagonist’s husband dictates what she can and cannot do, where she can go, and how she should spend her day. This is clear when he refuses her request to move to another room while she recovers from her nervous condition, insisting instead that she stays in the room with the yellow wallpaper that eventually drives her insane.
- During daylight hours, the protagonist is expected to fulfill her duties as a wife, and her own desires and needs are ignored. This is especially evident when she tries to tell her husband of her fears and anxieties, and he dismisses her concerns as mere imagination.
- The patriarchal society in the story is reinforced by the societal norms and values that limit women’s roles to that of a secondary character whose purpose is to serve male authority. These norms force women to suppress their creativity, intellect, power, and aspirations, and instead, conform to societal expectations.
John’s control over the protagonist’s life and the limitations set by the patriarchal society are indicated by the windows in the room. The protagonist sees the windows as a source of liberation that will allow her to escape, but in reality, they are just another reminder of her confinement. The windows are barred, limiting her ability to explore the world outside and express herself freely.
|The bars on the window||Repression of the protagonist’s freedom and individuality.|
|The garden visible through the window||A symbol of hope and freedom for the protagonist.|
|The yellow wallpaper outside the window||Represents the patriarchal society and its power over the protagonist.|
The use of daylight in “The Yellow Wallpaper” underscores the oppressive nature of the patriarchal society in which the protagonist is trapped. The constraints put on her by her husband and by societal norms limit her freedom, creativity, and sense of self-worth. The story serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of allowing oppressive power structures to dominate and control individuals, particularly women.
Daylight and the Journey to Self-Discovery
In The Yellow Wallpaper, daylight symbolizes the protagonist’s journey to self-discovery, as she gradually becomes more aware of her own identity throughout the story. One key way in which this is represented is through the use of light and dark imagery.
Throughout the text, the protagonist is often surrounded by darkness, both literal and metaphorical. For example, her room at the vacation home where she and her husband are staying is described as having “windows that look all ways, and air and sunshine galore,” yet it is still a “big, airy room, the whole floor nearly” where she “would not be alone” (Gilman, 1892). The narrator is not only physically isolated from society, but also emotionally and psychologically trapped by her husband and the patriarchy.
- The Number 9: The protagonist is trapped in a nine-foot by twelve-foot room, which symbolizes the confinement and oppression of her mental illness and the patriarchal society she lives in (Davis, 1985).
- The Sun: Daylight, particularly sunlight, represents hope and freedom for the protagonist. For example, in one scene, she describes trying to reach the window to escape the wallpaper, saying “I would get up softly and go to see the sun” (Gilman, 1892).
- The Wallpaper: The wallpaper itself is symbolic of the protagonist’s psyche. As she becomes increasingly aware of her identity and the oppression she faces, the wallpaper becomes both a literal and metaphorical barrier between herself and the outside world.
The gradual shift in the protagonist’s relationship to daylight mirrors her journey towards self-discovery. As she becomes more aware of her identity and the forces that are oppressing her, she begins to actively seek out daylight as a means of escape and liberation.
For example, towards the end of the story, the protagonist comments on the beauty of the moonlight outside her window, saying “I don’t know why I should write this…only it seems so queer to be writing at all…For outside you have to creep on the ground, and everything is green instead of yellow” (Gilman, 1892). This passage represents a turning point in the story, as the protagonist begins to move away from the darkness and towards the light.
|Nine-foot by twelve-foot room||Confinement and oppression|
|Sunlight||Hope and freedom|
|The wallpaper||Symbolic of the protagonist’s psyche and a barrier to her identity|
Overall, daylight plays a key role in The Yellow Wallpaper, symbolizing the progression of the protagonist’s journey towards self-discovery and liberation from the oppressive forces that hold her back.
Daylight and the negative effects of isolation
The daylight in “The Yellow Wallpaper” symbolizes the outside world and freedom. The protagonist, who is confined to a room due to her mental health issues, longs to go outside and experience the sunlight. However, as the story progresses, the daylight starts to have negative connotations as well.
- Daylight emphasizes the protagonist’s loneliness and isolation. As she spends more time alone in the room, the sunlight becomes a cruel reminder of the outside world she cannot be a part of.
- The daylight also highlights the stark contrast between the protagonist’s mental state and the normalcy of the outside world. She starts to despise the brightness of the day and prefers the darkness of her room.
- Furthermore, the protagonist’s obsession with the wallpaper dehumanizes her and makes her see the daylight and the outside world as artificial constructs. She starts to believe that only the patterns in the wallpaper are real.
Overall, the daylight in “The Yellow Wallpaper” shows how isolation can warp a person’s perception of reality and turn even the simplest things into symbols of suffering and despair.
The negative effects of isolation portrayed in the story are not limited to mental health only. Research has shown that social isolation leads to several physical and psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, and weakened immune system. Therefore, it is crucial to maintain social connections and seek support when dealing with prolonged isolation.
|Physical effects of isolation||Psychological effects of isolation|
|High blood pressure||Depression|
|Cardiovascular disease||Cognitive decline|
|Weakened immune system||Suicidal thoughts|
Isolation is not a natural state for humans, and prolonged periods of it can have severe consequences for both physical and mental health. It is essential to prioritize social connections and seek help when needed.
FAQs: What Does the Daylight Symbolize in The Yellow Wallpaper?
1. What is the significance of the daylight in the story?
The daylight in the story symbolizes the outside world, representing freedom, clarity, and hope that the protagonist desires.
2. How does the daylight affect the narrator?
The daylight affects the narrator by giving her a glimpse of the outside world, which she craves but is unable to reach due to her confinement in the room.
3. What does the sunlight represent in The Yellow Wallpaper?
The sunlight represents hope and the possibility of a better future in the story. It serves as a reminder that there is a world beyond the room the protagonist is trapped in.
4. What role does the daylight play in the theme of isolation?
The daylight serves as a reminder of the outside world, emphasizing the isolation felt by the protagonist. It highlights the contrast between her world and the world beyond the room.
5. How does the daylight contribute to the story’s overall mood?
The daylight contributes to the story’s overall mood of loneliness and despair, as it serves as a reminder of the protagonist’s confinement.
6. Is there a connection between the daylight and the woman upstairs?
There is no direct connection between the daylight and the woman upstairs. However, both the daylight and the woman upstairs represent the protagonist’s desire for freedom and escape.
7. What is the significance of the sunset in the story?
The sunset in the story represents the end of the day and the possibility of a new beginning the next day, instilling hope in the protagonist.
Closing Thoughts: Thanks for Reading!
We hope these FAQs helped you better understand what the daylight symbolizes in The Yellow Wallpaper. The sunlight and sunset represent hope and the possibility of a better life for the protagonist, highlighting her desire for freedom and escape. Thank you for reading, and we invite you to come back for more insightful articles in the future!