Imagery in literature brings a story to life for the reader. It draws the reader in and surrounds them with the environment of the narrative. The use of imagery will make the reader fully understand the circumstances under which the characters of a story live. In "The Yellow Wallpaper", by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the narrator of the story often describes the wallpaper, each time giving more details. The vivid descriptions allow the reader into the psyche of the narrator, which illustrates her ever-deepening mental illness. The imagery presented in the wallpaper through the narrator's words, show her descent into insanity coupled with her desire for independence.
The narrator has been prescribed the rest cure as a treatment for her hysteria: which in reality is probably post-partum depression. She is not allowed to have any physical stimulation and, as such, only observes details of her environment. The wallpaper, in the beginning of the story is described as "flamboyant" and "the color revolting" (793). This is little more than a minute detail in the narrator's description of the home in which they are vacationing.
The narrator's very detailed description of the wallpaper makes the reader understand the woman is well educated and has a keen eye for detail and, as such, the wallpaper evokes an emotional response from her, such as her statement "It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study . . . " (793).
The narrator presents signs of the depth of her illness early in the narration of the wallpaper, ". . . they suddenly commit suicide - plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions. The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight." (793), this passage easily foretells the narrator's own actions as the story progresses.
The woman starts innocently enough with studying the patterns of the paper, but soon starts to see grotesque images in it, "There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down." (795), this brings about an image of a...