The Yellow Wallpaper

Finding the Mood

            A story can draw its reader or audience in through many elements or essential characteristics through its tone, setting, theme and through the voice of the narrator. The mood helps brings everything together in a story it creates the overall feeling of the story. The mood affects the characters as well as the reader. It affects the characters because it plays a role in who they are and the characteristics they have. The mood affects the reader because after reading this story, the reader will feel a certain way and a good writer or good story will have its audience affected by the story or have a certain feeling towards or because of the story. This can happen whether the reader enjoyed the story or not. Charlotte P. Gilman uses the symbolism of the yellow wallpaper in the narrator’s room to set the mood throughout the story through her secret journal.

            The mood created by Gilman is one that changes as the story goes on with the narrator, even though the mood for other characters remains consistent. Such as, John being dominate over his wife and his belief that his wife is steady improving. John also believes his decisions for her are the best. The narrator’s mood changes for many reasons and in an unexpected way because of others actions towards her. For example, in the beginning of the story she opens optimistic and open-minded about staying at the house. The reader can assume she’s not miserable, but neither is she jumping up and down with excitement either. At first she may receive pity from the reader by expressing her feelings about her condition and the mutual opinions both her husband and brother share towards her condition. Then she goes on talking about the house in such a positive way and with a feeling of joy, to be able to see such a place. Again her mood changes because of both John’s comments and his room choice for them during their stay.

            John is a key element in making the mood in Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” John threats and speaks to his wife as if she was one of the children. He comes off as the bad guy and brings a feeling of control and hate towards him as a character. Although, Gilman created John this way and he embodies a balance of a villain with good intentions. His harsh ways are out of his love for his wife. It puts the narrator in a mood of more depression and a feeling of being controlled constantly. The reader can assume she feels like she's imprisoned in a place that was intended to be an escape, but between the bars on the window and the furniture being nailed down, it is hard to see a healthy recovery in this house. John also brings an emotion of confusion to the story and a horrific feel as well. For instance, the reader may wonder if he is in denial of his wife’s condition; are his actions truly out of love or does he like the control and power he has over his wife. In all John does not want to see or accept the truths of his wife’s condition, in his mind she is improving.

            Another element to creating this stories mood is the main symbol, the yellow wallpaper. The yellow wallpaper plays such a huge role as to how the story flows and when the mood changes throughout the story. The yellow wallpaper begins as something not only ugly in appearance, but also in what it represents. The yellow wallpaper originally puts the narrator in a mood of disgust and gives a sense of suffering. This same wallpaper puts John in a mood of seeing it as a healing mechanism or type of therapy for his wife, so he decides not to remove it. Day after day as the narrator if forced to look at this wallpaper, it is as if the effect it has on her helps her to evolve as both a character and brings awareness to her.

            This yellow wallpaper purpose and role only grows as the reader reaches the end. The more the narrator loses her mind she is also finding who she is through the woman in the wallpaper. The allusion that is being created by the woman she sees, which she soon identifies with herself. The narrator looks beyond the big picture or the picture everyone else sees and sees the picture behind it. The yellow wallpaper and the woman inside gives a mood and feeling of clarity for the narrator. She is no longer nervous or feels the way her husband or his sister tries to label her as. It is as if her husband and his sister only sees the outer picture of the wallpaper or no picture at all which represents the outer appearance and mood of the narrator. The inner picture and woman the narrator sees represents her mind and the true mood she is in. She feels determined to first go inside the wallpaper to see or get the woman then wants she mentally believes she’s there; she's determined to come out even if her husband is in the way of the entrance or no exit to her.

            In conclusion, this story has a mood that overall seems horrific and confusion. This mood is created by the tone which is created by the writer. It seems as though the writer is making a point or addressing topics of this time. The domination of the husband, the wife having to know her place and this condition could really be something that isn’t just in her mind. The next part is the setting, this could be the house as a whole, but in this story it is the bedroom that the narrator is confined to. The setting creates a mood from the uniqueness of the bedroom, for instance, the furniture, the importance of the window and most of all the yellow wallpaper. Lastly the voice of the narrator and the way the reader gets to hear it, through the narrator writing in her journal. The wife’s voice sets the tone and feeling of the story, she sounds up and down the entire time during the story. Her growth and mood seems to come about through her losing her mind. With that said Gilman is clever and creative in creating a mood perfect for this story.