"The most beautiful place…It makes me think of English places that you read about, for there are hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little houses for the gardeners and people."

As the narrator describes her new surroundings at the beginning of the story, she takes a moment to highlight the grounds of the estate. The gardens initially seem “beautiful” to her, but some of the architectural features that she mentions carry more ominous symbolism. The hedges and walls of the gardens create a sense of confinement, and the locks on the gates speak in a more literal sense to the narrator’s eventual entrapment. Gilman also foreshadows her isolation by referencing the “separate little houses” scattered across the property.

"So we took the nursery at the top of the house. It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with windows that look all ways, and air and sunshine galore. It was nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls."

The choice to confine the narrator to the house’s nursery symbolizes the infantilizing attitude that John, as well as their patriarchal culture more generally, holds toward her. Under her husband’s care, her personal growth has stunted, forcing her to rely on others to care for her. The bars on the windows also emphasize that this location is meant to trap her and restrict her development. The darker connotations of the nursery and the bars work to undercut the otherwise pleasant characterization of the room as bright and airy.

"I never saw such ravages as the children have made here. The wall-paper, as I said before, is torn off in spots, and it sticketh closer than a brother—they must have had perseverance as well as hatred. Then the floor is scratched and gouged and splintered, the plaster itself is dug out here and there, and this great heavy bed which is all we found in the room, looks as if it has been through wars."

Unlike the more positive-sounding descriptions that the narrator offers of the estate early in the story, this assessment of the nursery highlights its darker, more haunting qualities. The level of damage to the room, from the torn wallpaper to the splintering floors, seems to suggest that it may have once served as a sanatorium rather than a nursery. Regardless, this shift toward emphasizing the ominous aspects of the estate over its brighter qualities mirrors the narrator’s psychological decline and highlights the relationship between her and the room.