Unveiling Queer Themes


This paper examines the extracts in terms of style, narration and possible meanings emerging from the text and its foreground elements. The extract from the Yellow Wallpaper offers enough textual material for a queer reading. The further one reads the extract, the more proof is found. Within the text, there are elements of cohesion and coherence, and outside the texts, apparent grammatical structure. Our original semantic meaning of a word is always changed by tropes which belong to the category of rhetoric figures. The wallpaper, the Yellow Paper offers some personifications. Dependent on the discourse`s focus namely, whether we deal with a queer reading or feminist reading, we also come across symbols that are important for queer reading.

Across the extract, words like strength, nervous troubles, depressing, suffer; nervousness, rest, and comfort are all related to the semantic field of emotional state. An emotion is any such sequence that includes a cognitive evaluation, eliciting condition, a change of action, readiness and finally an action (LeDoux, 2017). The semantic field brings the theme of emotion and its importance to the extract to the reader’s attention, and acts as a cohesive element. The use of verbal substitutes link different sentences anaphorically. Additionally, verbal substitutes can also substitute for a verb plus certain other elements within the extract. The communicative function of emotions is two-fold, both internally within the brain to bypass inferences that are complex and externally amongst members of the species. Gilman incorporates tropes that bridge the gap between women and emotional instability so as to challenge readers to expose inconsistency, relativity and fragility of the masculinist associations. In fact, the narrator admits having hysterical tendencies. The extracts formal structure mirrors the patriarchal process of silencing. There are actually several physical gaps that bring about an interruption of the flow of the narrative. The gaps are an indication of different diary entries. They bring about some temporal difference between the text`s segments. The narrator explores the word ‘fancy’ which is repeated several times throughout the extract. Gillman intends to show how the domesticity of patriarchy considers the female writer as a threat and therefore, her creativity is presented as a tendency to madness and is silenced and controlled.


In general, repetition itself becomes a part of the story. It makes a contribution to the story`s tone by furthering the narrators helplessness feelings. The narrator uses the words writing and writes frequently in the extracts text. In the first sentence of the extract, “we have been here two weeks, and I haven`t felt like writing before, since that first day.” In the second line, “and there is nothing to hinder my writing as much as I please, save lack of strength.” Towards the end of the extract, the word, write comes up again, “I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest in me.” This repetition furthers the extracts claustrophobic feeling and also adds to the theme of being trapped.

The extract is enormously rich with stylistic devices. That is obvious in its layout in the text type and text form. Through the extract, interior monologue of a dramatised female narrator is used. A reader gets influenced by the mode of presentation with which the narrator talks about, her surroundings and herself. Several issues are talked about throughout the extract. The narrators wishes, longings, depression, her surroundings and John`s attitude. Striking as well is the use of anaphora. The personal pronoun “I” is used at the beginning of several sentences supported by the word “Personally” at the beginning of a sentence.

It is very interesting that the narrator brings about a semantic change related to the word “work”, which she initially refered to, to dominate her writing practice. With the deteroriation of her mental health, work becomes synonymous with the activity of peeling off the paper. It is very possible there may be a connection between the words ‘work’ and ‘peeling off’. Both of them are attempts to liberate a woman who has been imprisoned behind the bars of a patriachal society. The physical practices the narrator engages in are metaphors carried out by the author and the reader. In both practices of reading and writing, there appears to be exposition of the underlying opression and domination patterns.

Additionally, John, who is a rather common man, is used to represent every other man, is used at the beginning of two sentences. The author’s description of her surrounding contains another anaphora combined with the deixis of place. Enumerations are other figures of speech which the author uses to illustrate her daily routine. There is also a lot of parallelisms to be found in the text at the level of sentence structure, for example, whenever John is described (“John says,” “John does not”) or in the description of the area of the house. There are also parallel sentence structures when the narrator either directly or indirectly writes about herself: “Nobody would believe what an effort it is to do what little.” Other thoughts are applied in the text which is not rhetoric questions, accumulations and exclamations.

There are a lot of adjectives and adverbs that refer to the fictional world that describe the house and its surroundings, providing the reader with a mental picture. It is necessary to note that the class of adjectives can never be a definite entity for the reader because they are strongly subjective. For example, when the narrator mentions her house and beauty, there is a chance that it could mean it is rotten or a run-down structure or in another conditions. All that would depend on the value an individual attaches to beauty. Throughout the text, descriptive elements are used by the narrator to build a coherent image of the fictional world, which the reader imagines and further creates a realistic picture. It is observed that Gilman manages this very well because her depiction is both reasonable and detailed.

The narrator also makes good use of anaphoric referencing in the first sentence of the extract, “We have been here two weeks, and I haven`t felt like writing before, since that first day.” Anaphoric references refer back to concepts and words that have been presented in previous sentences. In a text, their presence helps readers to organise materials as they are read (Katola and van Gompel, 2016).

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  • Gilman, C. (n.d.). The yellow wallpaper. pp.13-16.
  • Kantola, L. and van Gompel, R.P., 2016. Is anaphoric reference cooperative?. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 69(6), pp.1109-1128.
  • Krippendorff, K., 2018. Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology. Sage publications.
  • LeDoux, J.E., 2017. Semantics, surplus meaning, and the science of fear. Trends in cognitive sciences, 21(5), pp.303-306.

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