A Mind’s Way: Symbolism In Yellow Wallpaper And Story Of An Hour

July 30, 2022 by Essay Writer

A symbol is a literary device that contains several layers of meaning. The symbol, is using an object or action that means something more than its literal meaning. Authors and writers use symbols to connect to the theme or themes of their work. Symbolism can be compared and differed throughout different works. In the short stories “The Story of an Hour” and “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” they both have their significant symbols. The open window in “The Story of an Hour” and funny enough the wallpaper in “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” In “The Yellow Wall-Paper” the wallpaper creates a meaning of showing the women’s madness. In the other short story, the window is an object that leads the women to what place in her mind she has to sit on. The symbols of the stories provide a path for the reader to understand the characters mental state and lead them to the theme. The wallpaper existence shows what the character is going through as the more into the story, the wallpaper illuminates the craziness of the women. The open window is able to provide a reason for the character to feel what she is supposed to feel or what she wants to feel. The symbols significantly show how they both affect the main character mentally.

In “The Story of an Hour” we learn that Louise’s husband has passed away. She goes to her room, shuts the door behind her, and lets out her emotions. Positive or negative, her emotions connect to the window in the room. The open window from which she gazes for most of the story represents the opportunities and freedom that awaits her after her husband has passed. “She could see in the open square before her house the tops of trees that were all quiver with the new spring life. The delicious breath of rain was in the air. In the street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which someone was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrows were twittering in the eaves.(246)” Everything that she experiences through her senses suggests joy and spring new life. Yet, how can that be? Her significant other has just passed away. Where is the joy from that? When she thinks about the sky, she feels the first time in a long time of happiness. Once she fully gets into this excitement, she senses that the open window is providing her with life itself. A new beginning. The open window shows a bright, clear view into the distant future and what it is to hold. A new future that isn’t filled with the demands of another person. When Louise turns away from the window and the scenery, it is no coincidence that she loses her freedom. The window is trying to express what Louise is able to have. What she couldn’t have had before.

“The Yellow Wallpaper” is focused on the narrator’s senses that she must interpret the wallpaper into something that directly affects her. Directly, meaning truly showing an example of what the woman is. What her craziness and psychotic behavior is. Throughout the story, it takes time for the wallpaper to develop its meaning and symbolism. In the beginning it just seemed unpleasant..The paint and paper looked as if a boys’ school had used it. It is stripped off, the paper, in great patches all around the head of my bed, about as far as I can reach, and in a great place on the other side of the room low down. I never saw a worse paper in my life(650).” It is ripped, dirty, and an “unclean yellow.” The unshaped pattern, attempts the narrator to figure out how it is organized. Here we don’t yet know what the woman is made of. We are still trying to figure out what’s behind the unclean yellow and dirty wallpaper. “There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will(650).” The narrator connects herself to the wallpaper as the one who can only understand the meaning of it. She understands it, because the paper resembles herself. It resembles her unshaped pattern. Her unclean yellow. After hours of staring at the wallpaper, the narrator has a pattern only visible in the way she can. The hidden pattern illuminates a woman desperately and constantly looking for a way to exit the pattern in front, which has come to resemble a prison. A prison she is also in her home. She is persistently trying to prove to her husband she is well and to leave the room. The wallpaper represents the structure of the family and in which the narrator finds herself trapped.

The two stories and their symbols both connect to the main character’s mental state. The open window in “The Story of an Hour” directs the character’s mind to the idea of happiness, joy and new beginnings. While in “The Yellow Wall-Paper” the wallpaper makes the character’s mental state look even crazier and desperate. Both characters are going through a rough state, through different circumstances, yet the symbols are what shows the truth. Both stories had the women feeling tied to their home or husband. They felt that if the husband was too controlling. This is where the prison for the narrator in “The Yellow Wall-Paper” comes in. The prison for Louise was her in the shadow of her husband. Even though these symbols prove to teach us about each character’s mental state, each character acted differently towards the symbol. For Louise in “The Story of an Hour,” she knew she had freedom now. She knew that was what was calling her. As in “The Yellow Wall-Paper” it took time for the wallpaper to show the behavior of the narrator. The mad behavior. The paper is just a repetitive teaching towards the character. The window is an eye opener and what to expect. Both characters struggled with their mental state, but it was Louise who broke it and realized that she was now free. Except we all know how that ends. Comprehensively, the symbols are used to represent the characters and what they are feeling. There are vast differenations of writing, from poetry to short stories, but it is significant to comprehend their symbols and what they bring about. 

Overall leading to the plot. Symbols are a unique way of work writers use for a creative twist and understanding. Symbols aid the work to flow and lead from one event to another. The wallpaper in “The Yellow Wall-Paper” didn’t just lead us into the final meaning of who the narrator was, it was able to pace us on the transition of the narrator to crazy. The window in “The Story of an Hour” was able to reach into the characters mind and show her the truth. As did the wallpaper. Each character suffered differently from the other. One suffered to choose between mourn or freedom, while the other just dug themselves deeper and wasn’t able to escape themselves. The wallpaper was able to progressively show what the narrator was filled with in her head. Overall both symbols showed how they reached into the characters mental state. The authors were able to perfect the use of their symbol as an aid to what the character was undertaking. Psychotic behavior and freedom.


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