Setting is crucial in any piece of literature. In The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the setting shapes the entire plot of the story. The story is set in the late 1800s. It is about a woman whose mental stability is affected by childbirth and the setting she is forced to live in. The author informs the reader of the historical setting as well as the physical setting in the story, which adds much depth to the short story. Setting can set things into motion, and Gilman takes advantage of the effect setting has on short stories, and other literature as well.
The Yellow Wallpaper depicts what the medical field was like during the late 1800s. During this time, many women were mistreated by medical doctors after childbirth. Many women experience psychosis after childbirth, due to the hormone imbalance often caused by giving birth. These women who did experience this would seek medical attention. Women had their infants taken from them, they were locked away in isolated rooms, and kept away from other people and the things most familiar to them. The author uses this historical setting to emphasize the suffering of the narrator. The narrator in the story is receiving medical care from her husband, who is a doctor. He takes care of his wife the way any other doctor of the time period would. He isolates her in a room in the upstairs of a large, Victorian, spacious house. Being a doctor in the late 1800s, the narrator's husband thinks that what he is doing is the medically correct thing to do, and so does the narrator. The narrator says, "Dear John! He loves me very dearly, and hates to have me sick" (Perkins Gilman 349). The narrator and her husband think that isolation is an effective treatment for those who are sick. The two of them genuinely believe that this method is the only way to make the narrator well again. .
When the narrator arrives at the house in which she has no choice but to stay in, she describes it as "The most beautiful place! It is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village.