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The Yellow Wallpaper

An analysis of the short story, complete for Gr.12 English Class. The story is analyses through the formalist, biographical, as well the feminist lens.
by

Redona Dekaj

on 20 July 2015

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Transcript of The Yellow Wallpaper

The

Yellow
Wall-Paper

The Plot
-narrator and husband (John) rent summer home
-something queer about this 'haunted house'
-mental illness, postpartum depression
- she continues to write despite the advice given by her husband and brother
- not taken seriously and viewed as incapable
-told that she should rest all day, the narrator spends a great amount of time in the room and represses this treatment
-forced into an 'atrocious nursery', basically the attic

The Formalist Lens
The Biographical Lens
Discussion Question



How does the narrator's description of the wallpaper change over time? How is the wallpaper representative of the domestic sphere? In your opinion, does her mental state improve or worsen?


Analysis Provided By:
Ms. H. Carrescia
Ms. R. Dekaj
Ms. E. Grieco
Ms. N. Shea

John: dominating spouse, absolute control over his wife. Considers her inferior
Narrator is a patriarchal woman (accepts the male superiority)
" John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in a marriage" ( 647)
John finds Jane's ideas laughable
refuses to listen to her -> end
expected by society
Conclusion: expected by the patriarchal society
Jane takes control over her life & thoughts. John's role is weakened.
" Now why should that man fainted?" (656)
stereotypical action of a shocked woman
narrator reversed the traditional gender roles during the Victorian Era
the John lost control over his wife
Conclusion: Leads John to be seen as a "woman" by society
Charlotte Perkins Stetson

Characters
Narrator:
diagnosed with a 'nervous disorder'
damsel in distress
very imaginative, but not allowed to write
the more she loses touch with the outside world, the more she finds herself (paradox)
nameless, until she goes crazy:
"I've got out at last, [...] in spite of you and Jane" (656).
Characters
John:
not completely the villain
all-encompassing authority figure (doctor and husband)
patronizes and disregards wife
their unequal relationship leads to his destruction
he sees the 'outer pattern' of wife, but misses the struggling woman inside
Jennie:
John's sister and housekeeper
traditional domestic role
Symbols
The Wallpaper
ugly yellow, peeling, narrator calls it 'the paper'
at first unpleasant, becomes more like a woman looking for escape
"I didn't realize for a long time what the thing was that showed, [...] but now I am quite sure it is a woman" (653)
the cage has 'strangled' many woman who tried to leave
wallpaper is very domestic, traps the women
Conflict
man vs. man:
her struggle against John and Jennie
man vs. self:
her struggle with her own mental illness
man vs. society:
her struggle against society's oppression of women
Symbols
Journal:
very ambiguous, depicts narrator's journey to insanity
makes her feel better, but tires her out
establishes connection between reader and inner thoughts of women
symbolizes her rebellion
Bed:
the "great immovable bed [...] is nailed down" (650)
sign of the repression of female sexuality
The Feminist Lens
"But what is one to do" (648)
Works Cited
Hughes, Kathryn. "Gender Roles in the 19th Century." Discovering Literature: Romantics & Victorians.
British Library, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://www.bl.uk/romantics-and-victorians/articles/
gender-roles-in-the-19th-century>.

Crowder, Sarah L. "Feminist Gothic in 'The Yellow Wallpaper.'" Lone Star Collage. Lone Star Collage, n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2015. <http://www.lonestar.edu/yellow-wallpaper.htm>.

Galullo, Lisa. "Gothic and the Female Voice: Examining Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper.'" Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. Yale University, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1999/1/99.01.07.x.html>.

"Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'The Yellow Wall-paper'—Writing Women." Edsitment. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <http://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/charlotte-perkins-gilmans-yellow-wall-papermdashwriting-women>.

Baldwin, Josh. "Signs of Feminism in “The Yellow Wallpaper”." JmbePortfolioWordpress. Josh Baldwin, n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015. <https://jmbeportfolio.wordpress.com/examples-of-my-work/signs-of-feminism-in-the-yellow-wallpaper/>.

M, Andrew. "'The Yellow Wallpaper' Feminist Criticism." TeenInk. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2015.<http://www.teenink.com/nonfiction/academic/article/317600/ The-Yellow-Wallpaper-Feminist-Criticism/>.
Jane disagrees with John but has no recourse
The role that women had no power
No one would listen because society's values and cultures were place to discriminate them
The real world: The Victorian Era
the ideology of the the Separated Spheres
Men: public sphere (independent)
Women: private sphere (depended)
Conclusion: rules set out by society and accepting them
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Themes
Male Dominance
distinction between the working male and the oppressed female
gender division keeps narrator ignorant
John dominates her, thinks he is smart and she is weak
narrator not allowed to fully develop as a person or stand up for herself
"I did not make out a very good case for myself, for I was crying before I had finished" (651).
Themes
Resting Cure
popular practice in the 1800s (developed by Dr. Weir Mitchell)
very cruel, targeted at women with 'nervous disorders' (PTSD, post-partum depression, etc.)
basically treated patients like infants (isolation, bed rest, forced feedings of milk)
story criticizes treatment, forces women into passivity
women become silent patients, easy targets for abuse
Themes
Science vs. Creativity
the narrator's lack of mental outlets leads to her demise
her insanity is the result of the science-based repression of her creativity (i.e. her writing)
as she becomes more passive, she becomes more obsessed with the wallpaper
Freedom
narrator is oppressed by husband, denied freedom
her husband faints "right across [her] path by the wall, so that [she] had to creep over him every time!" (656)
symbolical jump to her freedom
1860- 1935
Married to Charles Stenson, had a daughter named Katherine together
Diagnosed with "neurasthenia" (ppd) inspiring her famous short story
Bed rest.
Forbidden to write, paint etc.
Avid feminist, played on gender rolls
Women's activist for economic stability,
Women and Economics
Gilman committed suicide on August 17, 1935
Quotes
" If a physician of high standing,and ones own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really
nothing the matter with one
but temporary nervous depression --- a slight hysterical tendency --- what is one to do? My brother is also a physician, and also of high standing, and he says the same thing" (pg. 648)
" Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good" (pg. 648)
"I take pains to control myself--- before him, at least, and that makes me very tired" (pg. 648)
Works Cited
http://www.sparknotes.com/yellowwallpaper
http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/broughttolife/techniques/restcure.aspx
http://www.shmoop.com/yellow-wallpaper/
http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1999/1/99.01.07.x.html
http://www.biography.com/people/charlotte-perkins-gilman-9311669
http://www.enotes.com/topics/yellow-wallpaper/critical-essays/yellow-wallpaper-charlotte-perkins-gilman
http://www.studentpulse.com/articles/283/2/the-history-of-mental-illness-from-skull-drills-to-happy-pills
https://www.radcliffe.harvard.edu/schlesinger-library/exhibition/woman-human-life-and-work-charlotte-perkins-gilman
Works Cited
WWW2.webster.edu/~woolflm/gilman.html
www.apa.org/monitor/2010/05/cures.aspy
www.enotes.com/topics/yellow-wallpaper/critical-essay/yellow-wallpaper-charlotte-perkins-gilman
www.biography.com/charlotte-perkins-gilman-9311669
http://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/charlotte-perkins-gilmans-yellow-wall-papermdashwriting-women
"There comes John and i must put this away,--- he hates to have me write a word." (pg.649)
"It is fortunate Mary is so good with the the baby. Such a dear baby! And yet i
cannot
be with him, it makes me so nervous" (pg. 648)
Irony
the treatment of the narrator's depression does not work, despite her husband's intentions
"John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious. I am glad my case is not serious" (649)
"John laughs at me, of course, but on expects that in marriage" (647)
the narrator believes "the windows are barred for little children" when the room is actually for the mentally ill
The Plot
- becomes engrossed in the room's yellow, dull, and ugly wallpaper
-the wallpaper is very unsettling for the narrator as she is able to see a women within it
- trapped by the wallpaper
-obsessed with the room she is forced to stay in (attempts to rearrange the furniture)
- peels off wallpaper in efforts to free herself
-husband comes to check on her and panics when room is locked
- John is extremely shocked by her 'creeping' and faints at the sight of her insanity
- narrator takes pride in her freedom
-creeps over her husband's unconscious body
Full transcript