“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is structured using traditional plot elements. The sequence of events is chronological but does not follow the characters constantly. The story takes the form of journal entries by the narrator, a woman suffering from depression.
The most important characters in the story are the female narrator and her husband John. The narrator's characterisation is carefully composed through her journal entries which track her worsening mental condition. John is portrayed through the narrator's perspective, while his actions show him to be a symbol of patriarchal attitudes to women.
The physical setting plays a key role in the story. The events take place in an old isolated mansion where the characters sleep in a nursery room with yellow wallpaper. The wallpaper becomes the key symbol in the text as the narrator starts to obsess over it, imagining lively patterns. The social setting explores the oppression society imposed on women in the 19th century, looking at issues of marriage, depression, and women's work.
The story has a first-person narrator who is also the main character. The narrator's deteriorating mental state makes her an unreliable narrator.
The language of the text abounds in descriptive adjectives in connection with the setting that help construct the symbolism behind the wallpaper. Personification, similes, and metaphors convey the main character's perspective and offer readers an insight into how her imaginative mind animates the wallpaper. Irony contributes to emphasising the way the unequal relationship between the narrator and her husband contributes to her psychological stress.