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Gilman Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Women at the Turn of the century
    • Women could not vote.
      • But had to submit to laws
    • Women had no property rights.
    • Husbands had total legal power and responsibility over wives
      • Could beat them with impunity or imprison them
    • Women had few educational opportunities
      • Few universities accepted women
    • Women had few job opportunities
      • Could not enter professional fields such as medicine or law
      • They were paid a fraction of the men’s salaries
    • Women had few legal rights.
    • Women had fewer social freedoms.
    • Women could not participate in church affairs (except as attendees)
  • 2. Charlotte Perkins Gilman
    • Born in 1860 in Hartford, CT
      • Related to Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin
      • Father abandoned family, forcing mother to live in poverty and move frequently
      • Charlotte was a voracious reader and self educated
        • Rhode Island School of Design
        • Designed greeting cards for a living
    • After marriage and childbirth, suffered a terrible depression
      • Dr. ordered her to be sedentary and refrain from creative outlets
        • This made her condition worse
        • It inspired The Yellow Wall Paper
    • Separated from husband in 1888 and moved to CA; left child with husband
      • This was scandalous at the time
    • Advocated economic independence for women in writings
    • Became feminist lecturer, magazine publisher, writer, economist, social reformer
      • Ahead of her time
    • Killed herself after she learned she had breast cancer
    • Her works were rediscovered during the Feminist movements of the 60’s
  • 3. The Yellow Wallpaper
    • Themes
      • Postpartum depression
        • This condition was not understood at the time
      • Feeling trapped by domestic life
        • No relief or outside stimulation
        • Men could enter in and out f the private and public sphere and also, be nurtured at home: women could not.
      • No autonomy to determine your own best interest
      • Unquestioned medical/ patriarchal authority
        • When Gilman’s real doctor read this, he changed his approach to treating depression
        • The pen mightier than the sword
    • The Yellow Wallpaper breaks the myth of women’s contentment in the domestic life
      • Especially when it is forced
      • This was difficult for women to admit to as they felt intense pressure to uphold the Domestic Goddess archetype
  • 4. The Yellow Wallpaper
    • One of Gilman’s most effective writings because it was deeply personal
    • Her post partum depression was severely exacerbated by her inability to exercise autonomy over her own life
    • When reading The Yellow Wall Paper:
      • Pay attention to how the narrator’s state of mind deteriorates. What causes this?
      • Who or what does the woman trapped in The Yellow Wallpaper represent?
      • What does the narrator’s descent into insanity say about the treatment ordered by the two men in her life?
      • This story is from the POV of the narrator. How would this story change if told from the perspective of her husband or doctor?