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    The Yellow Wall Paper New The Yellow Wall Paper New Presentation Transcript

    • "The Yellow Wall-paper" Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)
    • Outline
      • About the author
      • Summary
      • Background Information
      • Characters
      • Imagery
      • Discussion Questions
    • Charlotte Perkins Gilman
      • Best known for her short story "The Yellow Wall-Paper," Gilman was a woman who wrote thousands of works, from short journalism to book length discussions of the social realities of women's lives to poetry. Her book, Women and Economics was hailed as a major accomplishment and re-published in several languages; Vassar college even used it as a textbook for a short time.
      • Gilman's major concern during her lifetime was feminism-- women's suffrage as well as women's economic independence. She also self-published a magazine titled, The Forerunner, for seven years; the magazine is an incredible collection of thought and ideas and an example of how driven she was.
    • Charlotte Perkins Gilman
      • "The glory of our race is its power of communication. We share our strength and knowledge and rise as one; we share our failure and weakness and help each other bear it."
      • Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "Our Place Today," 1891
    • Charlotte Perkins Gilman
      • Gilman learned in 1932 that she had incurable breast cancer. As an advocate for the right-to-die, Gilman committed suicide on August 17, 1935 by taking an overdose of chloroform. She "chose chloroform over cancer" as her autobiography and suicide note stated.
      • During her life, Gilman published a huge volume of work-- much of which is unavailable to the modern reader. However, much of her work is beginning to be recognized as important and re-published. She was an incredibly influential and ahead-of-her-time woman, and deserves more recognition.
    • Short Summary
      • The narrator and her physician husband John rented a mansion for the summer so she can recuperate from neurasthenia. She rests in a former nursery room and is forbidden from working or writing.
      • The spacious, sunlit room has yellow wallpaper stripped off in two places with a chaotic pattern. Two weeks later, the narrator's condition worsens. The narrator's irritation with the wallpaper grows; it sometimes looks like a figure is stuck in the pattern.
      • The narrator grows more anxious and depressed. The wallpaper provides her only stimulation as she studies its confusing patterns. The image of a woman stooping down and "creeping" (crawling) around clarifies each day.
      • John denies the narrator's request to leave the house, and she does not open up to him about the wallpaper. By then, however, the narrator grows paranoid that John and Jennie are interested in the wallpaper, too.
    • Short Summary
      • The narrator's health improves as her interest in the wallpaper deepens. She thinks the "yellow smell" of the wallpaper has spread over the house. At night, the woman (or possibly many women) in the wallpaper shakes the bars in the pattern as she tries to break through them.
      • But the pattern has strangled the heads of many women who have tried to get through. The narrator believes she has seen the woman creeping about outside surreptitiously in the sunlight. The narrator intends to peel off the wallpaper before she leaves the house in two days.
      • At night, the narrator helps the shaking woman in the wallpaper by peeling off the wallpaper halfway around the room.
      • The next day, Jennie is mildly shocked, but understands the desire to peel off the ugly wallpaper. The next night, the narrator locks her room and continues stripping the wallpaper.
      • She hears shrieks within the wallpaper as she tears it off. The narrator tells him she has peeled off most of the wallpaper, and now no one can put her back inside. John faints, and the narrator continues creeping around the room over him.
    • Image of The-Yellow-Wallpaper
      • Often, images of sanitariums in the late 19th century are secluded, and extremely disconnected from the outside world. In addition, these places are decorated with ‘home’ furnishings, things to create a feeling of security and familiarity within the halls of extreme seclusion.
      • The walls are adorned with paintings of gentle images, evoking feelings of calmness and serenity.
      • In ‘The Yellow Wall-paper’ our narrator is told not to express creativity, to abstain from this medium of expression.
      • This was a perfect example of ‘the rest cure’ that was adopted by a large number of psychological practitioners of the day.
    • Major Themes of the Story
      • Feminism and the yellow wallpaper:
      • a feminine, floral decoration on the interior of walls
      • a symbol of female imprisonment
      • a text of sorts through which the narrator exercises her literary imagination and identifies with a feminist double figure.
      • Female imprisonment in the domestic sphere:
      • John's domineering ways have imprisoned the narrator into a domestic prison
      • Women are usually expected only to clean the house and take care of the children; thus, the narrator is trapped within her prison-like room and mansion
      • The exterior of the mansion is described as a series of closed-off sections, and the narrator's sense of being watched by the wallpaper suggests the idea of the room as a surveillance-friendly prison cell.
    • Major Themes of the Story
      • Sunlight as oppressive, moonlight as liberating: Although the yellow color of the wallpaper has associations with illness and minorities, its most developed motif is with sunlight and moonlight. Sunlight is associated with John's ordered, dominating schedule; he prescribes something for the narrator for every waking hour while he goes about his daily rounds.
      • Aesthetic changes through insanity: Often overlooked for the deep symbolic content of the story, Gilman's prose is a model for a convincingly gradual and subtle decline into insanity. The narrator's tone changes from naïve and depressed to paranoid and excited, and as she grows insane, her sentences reflect the state of her mind.
    • Characters in “The Yellow Wallpaper”
      • Narrator: The narrator is married to John and dominated by him. As she recuperates with neurasthenia in a room in a rented mansion, he does not allow her to do anything but rest, and especially forbids her from the creative work of writing.
      • She finds solace in her journal and, as her stay wears on, the yellow wallpaper in her room.
      • She soon identifies completely with the woman, who tries to break free from the domesticated prison of the wallpaper by moonlight, the time when women are free from the oppressive regularity of masculine sunshine.
    • Characters in “The Yellow Wallpaper”
      • John: A practical physician; the narrator’s husband. But he treats her more like an infant. He patronizes her, frequently refers to her with the diminutive tag of "'little,'" and acts as if she cannot make any decisions on her own.
      • Jennie: John's sister; a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper who wants nothing else out of life. She symbolizes the happily domesticated woman who does not find anything wrong with her domesticated prison.
    • Characters in “The Yellow Wallpaper”
      • Woman in the wallpaper: Although the narrator eventually believes she sees many women in the yellow wallpaper, she centers on one.
      • The woman appears trapped within the bar-like pattern of the wallpaper, and she shakes the pattern as she tries to break out, and like the narrator, she has only the symbolic option of tending to the house, not of getting an intellectual job in the outside world, and the wallpaper is yellow associates her not only with the oppression of masculine sunlight and with jaundiced illness, but also with discriminated against minorities of the time, particularly the Chinese.
    • Characters in “The Yellow Wallpaper”
      • Mary: The nanny Mary takes care of the narrator and John's baby.
      • With her name a possible allusion to the Virgin Mary, Mary is the perfect mother-surrogate for the narrator, an idealized maternal figure whose only concern is her child.
      • Like Jennie, she also symbolizes the happily domesticated woman.
    • The Yellow Wallpaper
      • A story reflects on the author's life: It is about how a woman/the narrator is sick and her husband John and her brother advise her to stay in bed and not do anything until she gets better. She has to stare at a ugly yellow wallpaper that is in the room where she rests.
      • Due to her condition of depression, she is focusing on little things that made her condition even worse. She has focused most of her energy on the wall-paper, and she wanted to get rid of it; however John does not want to and tells her it is only temporary location and very soon they shall move out that apartment.
      • The narrator wants to write very badly, but cannot due to her husband's objection. Either her husband cares for his wife very much and wants her to recover fully, or that he is very controlling due to his male instincts.
    • Wallpaper
      • Gilman and the narrator of the story are the same person
      • a commentary about the treatment of many women at this time
      • Gilman and the narrator share the idea of freedom for women from these oppressive situations the post partum depression, the rest cure treatment and feelings of being trapped
      • the wallpaper in the story represents society and escape from these restrictions
    • The Women Caught In The…
      • 1.The narrator has an immediate dislike for the wallpaper and at first studies it with the eye of a critical interior decorator.  
      • 2. While the narrator's perception of the wallpaper reveals her increasing madness, it effectively symbolizes the struggle of women who attempt to break out of society's feminine standards
      • 3.The women caught in the wallpaper parallel to the  narrator's virtual imprisonment by her well- meaning husband.
      • 4. The woman she sees in the wallpaper struggling to break free of the bars seems to reflect and reinforce her own desire to leave the house.
      • 5. Eventually the wallpaper becomes the center of her life and her only concern.
    • "Wash Day” Cartoon Satirizes the Suffrage Movement at the Turn-of-the-Century The new woman - wash day (1897) The new woman - wash day (1901)
    • Why she wrote it ?
      • "For many years I suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending to melancholia-and beyond. During about the third year of this trouble I went, in devout faith and some faint stir of hope, to a noted specialist in nervous diseases, the best known in the country. This wise man put me to bed and applied the rest cure, to which a still good physique responded so promptly that he concluded that there was nothing much the matter with me, and sent me home with solemn advice to 'live as domestic a life as possible,' to 'have but two hours' intelligent life a day,' and 'never to touch pen, brush or pencil again as long as I lived.' This was in 1887…"
      • — Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "Why I Wrote the Yellow Wall-paper," 1913
    •  
    • Insane in the brain?
    • Study Questions 1
      • 1. Why doesn’t the main character/narrator have a name?
      • Describe the narrator of "The Yellow Wall-paper" as precisely as you can.
      • Why does she spend all of her time in the nursery?
      • What is "wrong" with her?
      • To what extent does she change over the course of the story?  
      • When does she first start giving evidence of losing her mind?  What evidence?  Why is she losing it?  
      • 2. Describe the Wall-paper.
      • Why is the narrator both fascinated and repulsed by it?
      • Why is the story named for the wall-paper? 
      • Why does it matter that it’s yellow? 
      • What room is the main character given? 
      • Why is that significant? 
      • 3. By the end of the story, the narrator seems to believe she has achieved a victory: " 'I've got out at last,' said I, 'in spite of you and Jane! And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!"
      • Do you agree that she has emerged victorious? If so, in what sense?
    • Study Questions cont…
      • 4. Consider “The Yellow Wallpaper” as Gilman's portrait of the American woman as writer .
      • What does the story suggest about the literary authority of the woman writer?
      • What obstacles stand in the way of her creation?
      • What is her ultimate work of art?