This story is in theme similar to two stories we've read, "Bartleby" and "The Story of an Hour." Like the Master in Bartleby, the wife is obsessed, though in "Wallpaper" she is driven by her obsession to the point of abject insanity. I will elaborate on a definition of insanity later. For now, we might consider insanity as the repetitive behaviour of someone who expects to glean a different result the next time she engages in such behaviour.
Like Louise in "The Story of an Hour" she is overprotected by her significant peers. Unlike Louise however, this woman does not gain any practical insight from her present situation that she might integrate herself into the real world. She begins to slowly relinquish her choices to the obsession of finding "it" in the wallpaper.
Especially in the beginning paragraphs I notice an almost laughing tone in the speaker. She finds herself in a hopeless situation because John wishes not only to suppress her physical activity, but her mental stimuli as well. Her only outlet is writing , and that renders her tired as well. Like Louise, though, she indulges in no psychological "down time."Here it seems that because she is forbidden to write, that its secretive nature (that of her feelings on paper) as something she cannot share, the suppression of expression is the tiring agent, what makes her depressed. In desperation, she begins her wallpaper fantasy.
We see her mind throughout the story (this is, I guess, a psychological realism piece, or even more along the lines of Naturalism) frought with irony on her part. For example, she says (ll 63-4), "[John] takes all care from me..." He may take all care OF her, but we do not believe for a moment that she is without care. She may be pampered, but she desires much more of life.
That John is a doctor is a compelling reason for cutting off her feelings even on paper.
She implies that she would be better off "...if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus--but John says that the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess IT [caps mine] always makes me feel bad" (ll 33-36). here are two things: First, she does not actually state that "if" she had less...that she would have something else. She cannot bring herself to actually be honest with herself. Why is this? Second, there is an ambiguity in the word "it" here. Does she mean that her condition makes her feel bad, or that her thinking about it makes her feel bad? Or does discussing her condition with John make her feel bad? Her resignation to her suppressed situation lies in line 105, "I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort..." Her use of the past tense connotes the futility of ever being a help or comfort now. It foreshadows the obsession/fantasy in which she will hereafter engage.
Another gap which I cannot resolve is l. 209, "I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time." Does she mean that USUALLY she crys at nothing, but now is in a habitual state of tears?
That she has nothing really of herself to grab onto other than the secrets she finds in the wallpaper tetsifies to her acute lonliness, which she does express in such a term a few times in the story (280-1).
She begins to "know"the woman in the wallpaper so well that she transposes the image of her "sneaking" into the world outside her window. She is doubtless hallucinating here, having already "wathched the moonlight on that undulating wallpaper..." (295). Could it be that she has stared so long at the images in the wallpaper that her retinae have retained the image wherever she looks?
A great irony resides (333-4) in her statement about the wallpaper: "On a pattern like this, by daylight, there is a lack of sequence, a defiance of law, that is a constant irritant to the normal mind." She has clearly gone over the top, because shortly thereafter she reacts to the wallpaper by personifying it as a pugilistic enemy: "You think you have mastered it, but just as you get underway...It slaps you in the face, knocks you down , tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream." Also, on 530, she talks about the difficulty in peeling off the paper and in doing so, "...the pattern [on the wallpaper] just enjoys it!"Now here is what I mean by the definition of insanity--that one repeats some procedure time after time expecting somehow to conquer a problem, and then, in getting all beat to hell psychologically she still gets up and fights the battle again, unaware of or, unwilling to admit to, the futility inherent in the effort to change a person, place, or in this case, a thing.
I think the woman behind the paper is her. The way she is creeping and moving at night and gets out in the day. She loved that paper and no one touched it but her.
The reading on the Feminist Theory has open my eyes to the fact that women have "Come a long way BABY". This slogan though borrowed from a 1970's Virginia Slim cigarettes advertisement is perfect example of how far along the female population has come. This is a small comparison to the major obstacles women have endured due to man.s prejudice.
I followed her story and even came close to believing her. I have spent many lazy days staring at the print(s) of a wall--trying to connect the lines to satiate my own warped imagination. Sometimes I would find myself trying to find some order in the chaotic prints as if to say that it was not in any order from the beginnning. But I had lost it all when the narrator had admitted to 'seeing' a woman in the print. From there on out I had thrown all logic out the window and tried to find some reason, some logic in her thought process.
It's funny, because now I am in a position to compare this story to that of "the Story of an Hour". Could it been that bad for Mrs. Mallard? Was this the kind of love that stagnates growth both from within as well as from without? The narrator had a gift--maybe she was a painter--but whatever it was, she had a gift for design and her eyes could pick up the slightest bit of shade and color. From the time line, it was as if she was talking to us in the present. She had a low selfesteem about her and would ridicule herself to no end. O.K., I tell myself, she is just sick, maybe that's all there is, but I'm asking myself did that happen? Did she actually see this woman from the wall paper? IT JUST DAWNED ON ME!!!The woman that was in the wall paper was in some way a symbol of her(the narrator). The 'woman' escaped bondage from the mundane, contrite patterns of the wall paper. Psychologist have a word for this. It's when an individual sees a connection and draws form it there own personal experiences and tries to make a connection. At any rate maybe that was the case. I'm still confused about the end. The husband fainted because of what?!?
If one were to comprise a hypertext, there are several passages that
must be included. Among these.
a. "That spoils my ghostliness"
b. "He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him"
c. "delirium tremens"
Passages that would not be included in hypertext, but certainly would be profound in analyzing this work would be the lines and passages where "she" hints to her state of mind and her desire to hold on to sanity, as it slips through her fingers. So moving.
This story blindfolds the reader, as we are led into the mind of someone who is loosing her grasp on her reality. So as not to familiarize or trivialize the significance of sanity as an individual phenomena, I must relate reality in terms of her personal attempts to salvage strength. I would dare to say that the heroine in this piece is a representation of what Gilman knows of insanity. Whether it is herself as the character I doubt. Yes, I believe she is the model, but the severity of the malady directs itself through and beyond her. I think Gilman's fascination with fantasy, as well her need to control them caused conflicts between the delicate nature of her mind, the cretive fervor she sought to represent.
Although we are introduced to John, his presence is one of additional stress for his wife. She has started to deteriorate mentally, and he is hoping an extended stay in a psychiatric ward will "fix" her. He wants to have the label of her mental creator, by way of saving her . What he does not know is that perhaps her focus on appearing sane to satisfy him, is in part what solidifies her fate.
What is beautiful and provocative about this piece is the honesty. Gilman shows you one facet of the balance beam, that place where some of us falter. From the confines of sanity , mental chaos is born, is nurtured and becomes magnified. There is nobility in the way in which she attempts to control her fate, and sympathy because we see the battle as one she is losing--bound to lose.
In terms of feminism there is my personal "tired woman" theory, which Gilman uses in this piece. Is the exhaustion literal? No! She is representative of woman, unable to breathe or think without mandate. Her loss of mind is a loss of self, her acquiescing to insanity because the battle to conform to one or the other is too much for her. It is a delicate line that is walked by the character in terms of her individual self, and how she represents women as they struggle for a place that is not without equilibrium. Societal mandates sparked the mental decline, her attempt to adhere to them sealed her fate. Tragedy and freedom irrevocably intertwined.
Granted, she may have really been sick. Or maybe 'almost' sick. Well then, if treatment is supposed to lead to a cure, then why did Dr. Do Good keep her in that smelly room with no contact with the real world? Isolation is not the way to cure someone! Especially isolating them with such "horrid" wallpaper and bolted down furniture, bars on the windows, and locked gates at the stairs. A feminist could interpret this as "Man's ideal world, where you keep the women where you want them, only to revel in their own imaginations, not saying much, and thinking even less! "
The feeling from the setting is that her husband put her into a sanitarium because of the bars on the windows and there non permanent stay. The yellow wall-paper intrigues me because doctors try to use different colors to evoke moods in people. Such as to prevent depression. The yellow wall-paper is ripped from the walls not by children but probably by past crazy people that lived there.
The issue that her husband just allowed her condition to worsen hasn't been addressed in that he is insensitive to his spouse's needs. What ever happened to "in sickness and in health" he almost forgets that this is the time when she needs his company the most. He probably found some pretty, young SANE nurse at the hospital to help him through these rough times. That is just a possibility. He could be spending more time at the office because he has lost respect for his wife. Women were seen as only good at taking care of the husband and children. Now that the roles have changed she is seen as less of a woman because her husband has to look after "her responsibility" the baby. It irritates me that the husband takes her illness in light and just thinks she will somehow snap out of it. She is the "little secret" of the family. To be tucked away in a little room. Remember when she sees that woman creeping around in the daylight outside? I think she sees that woman because she wants to be outside herself. The yellow wall-paper seems to be her only company and that is why she personifies it. What I don't know is what her reasoning could be in tearing it down perhaps because now she is leaving the place and doesn't want anyone else to enjoy it's company. Her jealousy of Jennie feeling the wall-paper is because she has yet to figure it out and doesn't want anyone else to do so before her. It could be that when she leaves, she wants it's memory to go with her. The point that Ms. Woodlief brought up that she is a creative woman and isn't allowed to be creative. This is crushing to a spirit that is banned from doing something that is necessary. Writing is her catharsis and anyone denied of an emotional outlet will surely suffer.
The feminist view would look closely at the relationship which she and her husband have. He is a doctor and so is her brother and they both seem to just tell her she is ill to get her out of their hair. They are very sexist characters. Her husband keeps her lying down and drinking tonics. What is this man hiding? A possible affair with the ever so helpful Jenny? Women during this time had no indentity and no life without that of their husbands. This women struggled with her identity and maybe found that she could better understand her situation when finding a women in the wall whom she reflects as herself and her life as a woman behind the bars of society.
I am more interested in the point of view of this story. I think that because the narrator tells us that this is her secret writing which ashe has to put away in the presence of her husband , This is interesting because it would take away from the mystery of the yellow wallpaper's actual existence. I mean the paper is there but there is not a woman behind it , it is her creative mind as a writer finding a way to show how women are caged in a sense , during that time period which I guess would be an interest of the feminist. But the point of view is such that we can not rely on the narrator as far as what is going with her stay in the house or where it is she is staying or what is going on with her husband.
Okay, now- the following are passages and questions I think someone doing a feminist hypertext would consider. "John laughs at me. of course, but one expects that in marriage..." what exactly does that mean? Is he laughing at her because she funny, like a comedian, or because he enjoys her sense of humor?? Or is he laughing at her because he thinks she's silly?? I think the latter. I think that, from what I've read, he treats her like she's incapable.
I also think that the description of her husband, John, where it says "...he scoffs....at things that can't be put in figures..." I think that there is more to that-maybe she's saying that men have less emotion, or at least less faith in things that aren't definite.
Another important thing to consider is that her husband is a physician, and she is ill , and her own husband doesn't believe it. He characterizes her problem as " ...a slight hysterical tendency.." this sounds like he's trivializing her illness, rather than making an honest effort to try to make her better.
She also mentions that her brother is a "physician of high standing..." what does that mean? Does it mean that, since he agrees with John, there really isn't anything wrong with her??
I also would like to point out that she is "..absolutely forbidden.." to do any kind of work. Why can't she make that decision herself? She is a grown woman. I do not think that other people should be making her decisions for her. I could see that if she were a little kid, but she's not!
Then she goes on to say that she thinks exciting work would do her some good. Well, she's right! She says she disagrees with them, why doesn't she say something? Any normal person knows that the worst thing you can do for depression is sit around and do nothing. John's cure for her problem is only bound to make her worse; it's like she's been imprisoned.
Right now I'm wondering why the author chose to let this character get worse; why didn't she have her rebel or something? Maybe that wasn't the purpose of this work?? She says that John tells her that he worst thing she can do is think about her condition...certainly she shouldn't dwell on it, but she should not pretend it doesn't exist.
She describes the house, and I think it's significant that she describes "..the gates that lock...". I think that adds to the idea that the house is kind of like a prison. She also comments that there's something strange about the house... and that she can feel it. I wonder what that could be ? She mentions it to her husband, and he says it's a "draught"?? That was all there was to it, no discussion no nothing. I found it interesting that they really didn't talk much at all. Then she goes on and attributes the fact that she gets really angry with her husband to her condition. I think this is a really interesting point. Maybe she gets mad at him because he deserves it, and because he's a twirp. She has every right to get mad at him for no reason at all, but I guess that would be just like a woman, right??
The relationship between this husband and wife seems strange. The passage about her husband thinking she might "neglect proper self-control"", what does that mean?
Another really interesting passage to consider is the one about which bedroom to take. If this little place was meant to help with her illness, why couldn't she choose where she wanted to sleep? He "wouldn't hear.." of letting her have the lovely downstairs room. It's strictly up to him what to do.
John also "...hardly lets me stir without special direction..." what does that mean? I think that she could never possibly get better in a situation like this... she lives on a total schedule. And it's not her schedule either; it's John's. He's probably half of her problem. ( I am pointing out the passages that I think would be considered)
I think that the part of the story where she talks about her schedule is noteworthy. He takes care of all of it. I think that the reason she might not say anything to him is because she feels guilty that he's doing all these things for her. What he's doing is opressing her.
I think that her first impression of the upstairs room might be significant; I don''t know why though, I guess someone would want to point this out because it's the beginnig of her relationship with the wall-paper. She describes it as "..committing every artistic sin.." I guess she thinks it's ugly. I get the impression that this woman is rather intelligent. I thought that it was interesting that she said the paper "...committed suicide ...", that's an interesting description.
It's strange that she hides her writing from John. What would he actually do if he found her with it? Would he just get mad? Would he take it away from her? She goes to great pains to keep this from him.
She describes the room as an "atrocious nursery.." SO, she's staying in a nursery, that's interesting .
I guess that the part where she talks about John's "serious cases.." might be important. She says her case isn't serious. Well, John's other cases take him away over night sometimes?? I dont really understand the passage where she talks about how much she suffers, but surely that's significant. She also calls herself " a comparative burden..." why does she feel guilty? Why does it amke this woman nervous to be with the baby???
Then he wouldn't let he repaper the room. I guees he thought it was bad "to give in..." maybe so, but the woman was really obsessing on it? I know that sounds rude, but I don't blame her, she really had nothing else to do.
She wishes that she could get well faster, why doesn't she? She again describes the paper with strange images. There's one part where the "..pattern lolls like a broken neck...and two bulbous eyes stare at you..." That's a rather terrifying way for wall-paper to look.
The only thing that bothers her is the paper. This must be significant!
Okay, and the housekeeper thinks it's her writing that makes her sick? Well, what does she write about??
What is "Weir Mitchell"? Maybe she'd be better off there.
She says she cries at nothing; that's not a good sign, and she says she cries when she's alone, but not when John's around.??? I think that there is something really wrong with her .
The end gets kind of crazy; one could take any passage from this and use it. I think that she totally obsessed on the wall-paper, and she went crazy, or insane. It wasn't totally her fault.
From a feminist perspective, is he merely interested in keeping her in her place? Is she veering from the pedestal he has so carefully constructed for her. Does she become the "monster" because of all the machinations set in motion by male order of things? Is she truly dangerous? Is she a threat to her baby?
Like Bartleby, we have a person who is walled in. Is she walled in by male society as well as her husband? Is the wallpaper the tapestry that translates her conscription? She mention the patterns. Do they predetermine her fate? Has she been robbed of free will long before her "illness"? When she asks to go downstairs, he says he'll fix the cellar up. Another room for confinement.
He asks her if she is well enough to write. Is she too weak to pick up a pen? He doesn't want her to have company to stimulate her. He isolates her. The only interaction she gets is what he provides. She follows his lead. She is indeed deranged but is this a result of his manipulations? Like the boss in Bartleby, does he cause or accelerate her malady?
At the end we can see that she is definitely wacko, but is she the victim of a controlling society as well as her husband? Has the narrator been too trusting? Has her conditioning effected her sickness? Should the reader evaluate her from a perspective other than that of the woman who is crawling around the floor and has occasioned violent thoughts in the course of her narration?
This woman's husband obviously doesn't believeshe can take care of herself. He doesn't believe her illness is real, yet he assigns her numerous tonics and tells her to rest all day. I think he recgonizes the sickness but the constant bedrest and lack of fresh air and exercise simply makes her sicker. She says herself that she thinks some exercise would be good for her, but John won't her.
Her husband seems to be the focal point in her life. She always accepts everything he says to be true and doesn't question his authority. He has everything done for her, she hardly gets out of bed and doesn't even go outside. Whenever she asks if she can go visit her cousin or something, he says when she gets better. He declares that she is looking better, there is color in her cheeks, but when she tells him, no, she feels worse and doesn't eat much when he is around, he simply coos a little nickname and she comes crawling back into submission. John likes her weakness, he likes that she can't do anything for herself. She is just a pretty little wife to sit and look nice at cocktail parties, like part of the furnature. He begins to act colder to her toward the end, coming home later; could he be having an affair ofrlosing interest in his wife?
The wall paper is very significant. Its ugly, irritating yellow color could possibly symbolize all the frustrations she feels in her life. She would have to get angry sometimes, being penned up constantly in a room with no one to talk to. Her writing was important to her, and she had to sneak to do that because her husband wouldn't approve. Her spirit was not allowed to grow, or her thought process. Everyone did everything for her. After a while, she became obsessed with the paper. She stared at it for hours and even analyzed the smell. Soon she began to hallucinate; she could see a woman in the wall-paper, trying to break free, out of the bars that held her. This was similar to the wife's situation; she wanted to break free of her sickly, boring, lonely, bed ridden life and her subconscious would not admit that freely to her. After a while, she tears at the paper, trying to free the woman from her bars, as she wants to be. Her husband controlled her life, she wanted out. After a while she simply lost it and believed that she was the woman. Actually, she WAS the woman, it ws her stuck and wanting to get out. After losing her sanity, was she finally free?
Reponse to "Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper"
My assumption that this was an autobiograpical work was right. However; during her time it seems that the only type of treatment that was available to her was bed rest. The advice that he gave her was of no benefit to her. He is saying if you ignore it, it will go away. Instead of fighting your problem, go about your regular routine as if nothing is wrong.
He gave her this advice in 1887 and she went home and obeyed it for 3 months (the same time frame as in the "Yellow Wallpaper"). She eventually recovers by going to work again through her writing. The same way the narrator eventually recovers by finding the strength to tear down the wallpaper and gain an amount of control over her life again. I agree that it is not intended to drive people crazy; but give them an alternative form of treatment from what their doctor prescribed.
Scudder's comment on "The Yellow Wallpaper": I think he commented negatively about her paper because he was probably treating his wife the same way. Not giving her any freedom and controlling every aspect of her life as well.
I simply think that she was slightly depressed and in fact nervous about the fact that she had just given birth to a child and her husband because he treats and sees mental illnesses so much he assoicated her conditionto be serious. In fact when he took her out to the country and kept her in this hidious room with this wallpaper which she did not like. It started off as just the color she did not like but as her husband and housekeeper kept treating her as if she was insane she became more and more oppressed in theis room that she did not even want to be in.
Her depression became so bad that she started seeing a woman in the wallpaper trying to breakout and free herself. This woman in the paper turns out to be herself. She no longer wants to creep around and and feel as if she is trapped. The only way she sees to free the woman, herself is to destroy the paper and not worry about what her husband thinks of her nor the housekeeper. When she does this by locking herself in her room and tearing the paer off the walls her husband comes in the room and faints beacuse he relizes that he thinks his wife has gone plain nuts. She thinks that she is perfectly sane and to her self she is right. She thought that her husband and the housekeeper were trying to make her nuts by keeping her in that room and watching her like a hawk.
I didn't see that many gaps in this story. At first it was a little hard to tell that she was the woman that all of a sudden appeared in the wallpaper trying to break out and free herself. I think that if a feminist was writing the story in a hypertext version they would have explained the part of her hating the paper and how she felt as if she was trapped in that room. Oppression was being laid upon her by others because they weresimply ignoring the fact that she wasn't that nervous they were making her that way.
You see he does not believe I am sick!
And what can one do?
Herein lies the problem of male-oriented literature and the focus of the feminist criticism which tries to correct that problem; the male's account of the situation is taken as gospel, while the woman's viewpoint is thrown out as rubbish. The public only gets access to the "acceptable" explanations - the men's explanations.
(One could argue that this is the problem with religions, with medicine, with society in general.) (And if you doubt that this still occurs in our oh-so-enlightened modern society, consider that PMS was only recently recognized as anything more than an "all in your head" ailment) (women have known about this forever; they just didn't have a voice; the rulers of medicine were all men)
Enough ranting though..........Back to "The Yellow Wallpaper"
"Personally, I disagree with their ideas.
Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.
But what is one to do?"
The woman feels helpless, indeed has been made to feel so by her physician husband, and this is hardly a feeling conductive to reviving one's health. The woman here is perfectly sane, she knows exactly what she needs to do "personally" to make herself well again. But she is married, and respectable women were expected to follow their husbands superior advice. A double whammy to the repressed woman; her man happens to be a physician in good standing with the public. She has pressure to conform, not only from him but also from the rest of the public who believes his "superior" advice over hers. (Is it beginning to sound a little more like modern day life? Perhaps wives being expected to follow after their "superior" husbands, and at their own personal expense? Perhaps daughters being expected to listen to their "superior" fathers? Or female patients being expected to listen to their "superior" male doctors?)
(Of course I'm not suggesting all males or all females here, so don't take offense if it doesn't apply to you.............But if it does apply to you then shape up!)
Women's roles in the 19 century were very usual, ordinary and commonly boring; and the story starts with, " mere ordinary people...secure Colonial hereditary estate...haunted hourse..romantic felicity...that would be asking too much of fate?" Is this author is writing this story testing the boundaries of women's lives on the page. This text is not a "dead paper" as the author says. Is the narrator commiting artistic sin with not writing? When the narrator says the "chair seems like a strong friend" is it because of its protective strong sides that she can sit in?
Do the words, "little girl" show a dependent wife who has a child but cannot care for the child or herself? In the moonlight on the wall paper the narrator says it is like "bars." What is the author trying to say about women's lives? Are women in prisons made by a male dominated society?
Is the doctor displaying his manish perception that nothing his wife could write would be valuable and does the writing make the woman sick as he suggests?
I believe that someone doing a feminist hypertext of the story would definitely question why John will not let this woman write and why he orders her around so. I think a feminist hypertext writer would definitely see this as John making his wife inferrior and trying to make her very dependent on him. The author when speaking of John says, "he hardly lets me stir without special direction". This again shows how John is in control of her and her every move. The book describes a concern that deals with woman writers and their status. The author stops writing when John comes into the room saying "he hates to have me write a word". This quote definitely shows that he does not think that a woman should write. Another concern is the image of women in literature. In this story, the woman is helpless, very dependent, and basically the one who is make out to be somewhat "mad". This shows that the man has power, control, and is very independent in himself. Also, the men described in this story are both successful doctors while John's sister is "a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession". John's sister believes it is the writing which made her sick so the author can not let Jennie see her writing.
This entire story to me was quite bizarre from the setting (of the room) to the person behind the wallpaper. I really think that everyone involved in this story had a "illness". I think the author may have gotten this "illness" from only being able to look at this odd wallpaper for so long. After reading the authors summary on why she wrote this story, I realized that this woman did have a nervous state, but the cure should not have been for her to do any mental processes. This lack of mental processes can make a person with a common illness go completely mad because these mental processes are a part of being alive and functioning. Basically, this woman was being imprisoned and all of her usual daily activities were being taken away from her. I believe that the lack of these "normal and natural" skills would make a person worse than they already are. I learned in psychology that a person has to do the same every day activites that they are used to in order to get better. Without these activities, someone would feel isolated and depressed and would see no need to get better.
Is she really crazy? I continuously asked myself that very question. She shows every example of being sane, if you consider her situation. Think about it though, if you were confined to that room all of the time, watched constantly, not really taken seriously about anything, wouldn't that cause you to go bananas? The narrator's only means of escape are her writings, that she still has to conceal and this woman she continues to look at from behind the wallpaper. Which is really her. I could not even imagine it.
I also focused on the fact that John also referred to her as a child. When she got up at night and he called her "little girl," that infuriated me. Yes, she is a grown adult right? Why else would he have married her, but I think John confines her to those conditions, so she will not grow. He keeps her away from "stimulating people," doesn't allow her to express herself through her writings, keeps her monitored and keeps her away from her child. I also think he could be having an affair, but that is also my imagination getting carried away.
I think a person looking at it from a feminist point of view would focus on everything I have and look at especially the husband\wife relationship, I do not think a writer would focus on the wallpaper except for the fact that the writer interprets that as herself. The mother\child relationship could also be insignificant, because he does have a woman caring for it, but then again the child will have a stronger relationship with its father moreso than its mother. Another male dominance thing.
This woman screams feminists everywhere help me, so I hope other women learn from it.
The yellow wall-paper seemed to show up everywhere, If not the color yellow. The yellow must have played a great significance in her life. Maybe the yellow represented the bright side she really wanted and the pices of the wall papaer were pieces of her experieces. At the beginning of the story when she mention about the house that looks haunted and cheap I felt like she was just expressing the hospital she was committed to and the room
FROM: Victoria Shreves
Anne, I wanted to comment to your paper by saying that you pointed out many interesting things about the story. For instance, you said that the author gave the wallpaper personal/human characteristics. This was a very interesting point, I wonder if the woman is so lonely that she has to give this wall paper personal qualities to satisfy this loneliness. Another thing that I would like to comment on is that I do not think that the woman was severly ill before her husband made her stay in this room with nothing to do, but stare at the wallpaper. I am not the kind of person who just likes to sit around and I understand why this woman has supposedly gone crazy. I was wondering about the part where the narrator talks about the child also. At first, I thought the woman was hallucinating the fact that she had a child, but after rationalizing the facts, I realized that they definitely do have a child. I wonder if she is experiencing post-partem depression since the child is obviously very young and was not born that long ago. I think that the narrator was not very reliable because she contradicted herself greatly throughout the entire story. For example, in the beginning of the story, she says that it is a "'secure Colonial hereditary estate...haunted hourse..romantic felicity...that would be asking too much of fate? However, on the same page, she says that it is "the most beautiful place." She is too unsure to me to take her word or what she says as the exact truth. There is always a form of bias when someone tells a story and usually many of the real facts are exaggerated a great deal.
FROM: Alisa Hubbard
I thought Anne brought up a good point that the reason she personifies the wall paper is because of her loneliness. The fact that her husband is a doctor and has to spend long hours at the office justifies the point.-
FROM: Anne Segar
To Victoria,when you noted that ..."colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house,...but that would be asking too much of fate! the narrator appears not to have made up her mind as to what is actually going on, I can identify with your feelings regarding those words.
I also thought that John was instead of helping her get well--he was making her sicker, ..."not talk about it; however, she always interupts her writing and talks about her illness...becoming worse." I also agreed that other people in the story showed signs of illness and were disturbed not just the narrator. In addition, you commented that the husband wanted the wife to be under his control, and this was evident in the prescribed rest away from writing.
FROM: Victoria Shreves
Stacy, In almost all of your first reading response you commented on the way a feminist hypertext writer would view this story. You had many interesting points when you said that 'The woman here is perfectly sane, she knows exactly what she needs to do "personally" to make herself well again.' I believe the same thing, however, like women are expected to do, she listened to her husband and felt inferrior. I also realized that all of the men have high paying doctor jobs while the narrator does not have a job and John's sister is a housekeeper who hopes for no higher job. To me, some of this is still true today, men are still getting higher pay checks than women,but the women are also going to college to better their career and to advance in pay.
FROM: Victoria Shreves
Alisa, You had some great comments on the way the husband treats his wife and how women are taken advantage of and treated unfairly by members of the opposite sex. I agree with you about her husband keeping her behind the bars. She may have had a mental disorder, but she was not a prisoner. To me, it was like he was treating her like some animal. She could not leave her room, read or write (natural human qualities) and he kept close supervision over her. It was like she was captured and being held hostage. I believe that her being in this room made her condition worse than it would have been if she would have been allowed to perform everyday activities. Taking these everyday routine activites away from her made her become even more depressed and made her think about her illness because there was nothing to keep her mind occupied. I am in a psychology class on studying personality disorders and it was proven that to take someone out of society and their usual activities makes them feel less adequate about themselves and their abilities. The worse thing to do is to make them feel "abnormal" and I definitely would have felt abnormal if I was not allowed to function as a human being.
FROM: Alisa Hubbard
Victoria, That is interesting. I found that many of the theories in psychology are true. For example, people that are always told that they are "bad" turn out that way and vice-versa with good. It's called labeling and I see it in this where the woman is treated like a crazy person so instead of getting better she gets 10 times as crazy as she was in the beginning of her writing.
FROM: Alisa Hubbard
I enjoyed the comments about the man in this has a well paying job and the woman is just his crazy wife that is considered some sort of secret. You definatly still see women stuggling for equal pay for equal work. It shows the age of the piece in that the women in this aren't striving for equal paying jobs or to better themselves. They allow the men to be the bread winner of the family and accept the dominant factors that go along with it. Because then you have become a dependant on the male and have to go to him for money just like you would your father.
FROM: Will Beebe
Stacy- You say, 'The woman here is perfectly sane, she knows exactly what she needs to do "personally" to make herself well again.' I am confused. I agree that she is severely limited by the actions springing from the cultural mores of most of those around her, with the exception of the maid, but I doubt her sanity. I believe that she is driven to insanity by such circumstances as you mentioned. How does her wild obsession with the wallpaper release her from the ties that bind. We do not know what the reaction of her husband (and perhaps other doctors) will be to her cerebral merging into the world of the wallpaper, but I must infer tha she has gone over the top. What exactly is it, that you say she must do to be "perfectly sane." What is your definition of sanity, or insanity for that matter??? If the actions of the spaeker are in fact a deliberate attempt to demonstrate her sanity, then she is going about it stangely. ON THE OTHER HAND, it is the author who potrays this woman. So we must consider that , if there is any message to be inferred in our approach to feminist analysis of the story, that indeed it says to Me, "Hey!!! Look what these blind idiots have driven me to!" As Anne Segar once mentioned early in the course, perhaps it is the author who is trying to use her writing as a form of therapy, as the speaker clearly wants it to be.
FROM: Julie Joseph
Hi this is a general comment, I guess. I have to agree with almost everything I've read in the papers. Every point of view is reasonable! I do, though, really agree with will's comment to stacy-that the woman was kind of insane. I do have to say that I would agree with stacy in saying that the woman knew what was best for her!! That whole situation she was in...being cooped up in that house...caused her to "snap".
FROM: Laura Edmundson
To Hashim, in your paper you stated that you were following the speaker's train of thought about the wall paper until she mentioned "seeing a woman." Well, I think here she may have seen a reflection of herself. Somewhat confined (to her room), restricted (from her writing), and a creative soul needing to be free. When the figure in the paper is "freed," by the speaker ripping the paper off, she herself has been liberated.
FROM: Laura Edmundson
Tracy, I agree that her husband and his lack of support contributed to her "condition," but what exactly does a "nervous condition" descibe anyway? I think her health status is directly correlated to her husband's neglect and his restrictions.
FROM: Ann Woodlief
Will-- I think the question of whether she is insane is somewhat more open than you suggest. I'll agree that she has been placed in an insane situation: repressed physically and mentally, even emotionally. (suppressed?) Since she cannot lash out at her husband or any of the other repressive forces, she focuses on the wallpaper. THAT she can battle, as a kind of stand-in for her husband? Of course, she is not exactly battling it, but trying to release the woman in it--herself? The wallpaper seems to represent her imprisonment, the patterns which hold her captive (and you seem to have already figured out what those patterns are; your comparison to Louise is great.)
FROM: Stacy Reed
To Victoria, You say "One thing that confused me was that she contradicts herself when talking about the house. At first, she says that it is a "colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house,...but that would be asking too much of fate!" However, on the same page she says that the house is "the most beautiful place." I wish she would make up her mind on whether she likes it or doesn't." Does the "hauntedness" of a house necessarily make it less beautiful?
""he hates to have me write a word"." This quote definitely shows that he does not think that a woman should write. Does this quote show that he thinks "a woman" shouldn't write, or that he thinks his wife shouldn't write because she is already "sick" and he believes her writing causes the stress that makes her sick?
FROM: Rene Hurley
I think the story is about the oppression of women during that time, but I don't know whether to believe that she is truly ill. It is freguent of the time period for women to become exhuasted with life in general and men to do what it takes to make them at ease. We won't know what is really going on in the story as far as the husband and her sickness is concerned because the point of view is bias. The narrator tells us that she is not allowed to write so she must leave us when her husband approaches. This shows us that the story we are reading is an exert from her personal journal. She writes in it for escape, and,or pleasure and in doing so she will add fantasies to represent her points, as all writers do. The Yellow Wallpaper is her fantasy used to represent what she reflects as being herself. She finds that she is caged by society, men , and she becomes obsessed with the notion of freeing herself therefore tearing the wallpaper and setting women free. But we can't know whether this happened in reality all we can know is that this happened in her mind, in her journal.
FROM: Stacy Reed
To Anne:"This paper is personified with "paper looks as if it knew what a vicious influence it had...the pattern looks like a broken neck..." Doesn't the wall paper effect everyone; notice the author's comment, he acts so...sleeping under the paper for three months..." The wall paper is a character as well as something that has an effect on the characters." I love the way you have said this. When I read this for the first time I also felt affected by that yellow wallpaper. It brings to mind a person stuck in a hospital room, barely able to get better for the fact that the surroundings themselves are ill.
"Why does the narrrator say, "Behind the outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day like a woman stooping down creeping about behind the pattern." Is the author giving a clue she is planning to make the narrator and the woman stooping down..." the same person eventually?" I love the way you've said this, too. I also think perhaps the woman is a bit "haunted" by her active imagination and how she is able to create (or recreate) the possibility of a previous woman inhabiting the same room. Perhaps that previous woman (with a little help from an active imagination) is the one who started tearing and wearing down the wallpaper, and who is now crouching behind it.? "When the narrator says the "chair seems like a strong friend" is it because of its protective strong sides that she can sit in?" I also think that the narrator associates "the chair" with her personal strength, with her ability to write. When she is writing, she is sitting in the chair; when she is sitting in the chair, she is writing. It may only be a correlational association, but it would be easy for her to assume it was cause-and-effect.
FROM: SADINA VANISON
Rene I think you made a very good point! I felt the same way about the time period. How women just weren't able to speak out the way they really wanted to, so she just spoke the best way she could and husband didn't allow that.
FROM: Stacy Reed
To Rene: "She writes in it (her journal) for escape, and,or pleasure and in doing so she will add fantasies to represent her points, as all writers do. The Yellow Wallpaper is her fantasy used to represent what she reflects as being herself." The statement "as all writers do" may be a bit too universal. Then again, perhaps you and I just have very different definitions of what constitutes a "fantasy." What definition are you using here?
FROM: Sadina Vanison
Anne I felt that the pattern in the wall-paper was probably pieces of her life. But I'm like you to believe that the wall-paper did have a lot of character.
FROM: Stacy Reed
To Sadina: "During the 1800's women weren't as liberated as we are today, so since this story seem to show a feminist side she was way beyond her time." Not to mention the info. from Netscape which said that, after she wrote the piece, she sent a copy of it to the doctor who had misdiagnosed her problem in the first place
FROM: Melanie Manuel
Victoria, I agree think your comment was good about how you learned in your P. class about people taken out of normal society begin to function less adequately. I think you are right about the way her husband is treating her; he won't let her get well. Maybe deep down he likes the idea that he is completely in control.
FROM: Sadina Vanison
To Stacy: Thanks for the comment especially about the doctor misdiagnosed of her problem. Now that really answers al ot of question I have about the story at the beginning. Aren't you glad It's the 90's? I still feel that women in general plays a big role in society and due to a man's world we still have some way to go
. FROM: Ann Woodlief
Hashim-- I really like your "Ah ha!" experience way of writing about this story!
Why did the husband faint? An interesting question. After all, in those days it was the women who were supposed to faint! Of course he's just seen a rather terrifying sight. I suppose my question is why the author has her crawling over his prostrate form. Is this some kind of victory over him? Maybe the only way she can be free? (hmmm--"over my dead body" and shades of Mrs. Mallard!)
FROM: Ann Woodlief
Sadina-- Even though this story has some relationship to Charlotte's own experience, it is not autobiographical. (No, she was not shut up in a room with yellow wall-paper! Nor was she hospitalized--just forced to bed rest) But we have to read it as fiction, and she would have been the first to say that--a fiction which stands for the truth in the lives of many, not just here. You're right that yellow is usually considered a "bright" color, but is it in this story? You suggest that the pieces of wall paper were pieces of her experience (please use the spell check--sometimes it's hard to plow through your typos!). I'd love to see you enlarge on that idea. Could you?
FROM: Ann Woodlief
Kathryn: You make some great points about the story, especially showing how Jennie is a kind of "accomplice" in this imprisonment. Is he having an affair? I agree that there's the possibility left open; he's certainly escaping from the house a great deal (which she can't do except in her imagination). The mother/child relationship is hardly noticeable, but it would seem to be a factor: motherhood, even with help, can restrict a woman's freedom considerably. In fact, at the time, to even think of being both a mother and a writer was probably unthinkable--which may explain why Gilman herself left her husband AND her child. What do you think that women might learn from this story?
FROM: Will Beebe >br> I find Victoria's question in her 2nd Paragrapgh of her comment vital to interpreting husband John's nature (innocently blind or controllingly villainous) Here is her question verbatim: '"he hates to have me write a word"." This quote definitely shows that he does not think that a woman should write. Does this quote show that he thinks "a woman" shouldn't write, or that he thinks his wife shouldn't write because she is already "sick" and he believes her writing causes the stress that makes her sick? '
Rene- I am now convinced of a rather obvious point that both you and Dr. W have indicated-as you say 'The Yellow Wallpaper is her fantasy used to represent what she reflects as being herself.' That is, I interpret you both as saying that she lives vicariously through the images in the wallpaper because it is the only tangible vehicle through which she can find herself (or at least a reflection of herself and her actual circumstances. In this sense, as Stacy had indicated, she does have a grasp on reality in that sense, but the physical scope of it is caged in a world of obsession, so it only appears that her thinking is twisted. The imagry of the wallpaper are the reflections of her reality. Herein I think lie the reliability of the narrative POV.
FROM: Anne Segar
In reading Katheryn's paper on "The Yellow Wall Paper" I agreed with her comment, "'John does everything and does not take his wife seriously at all, but even her brother and sister in law are in on it....male\female thing, meaning the male is the dominant creature...' I wondered why the author made the husband a physcian? This apparently meant something that he was the healer and she needed healing, why didn't the author make the husband a farmer? It would not have been nearly as effective! The role of physcian plays into the setting in a powerful way...even in today's world "following the doctors orders" is the rule rather than the exception. Interestingly he was the husband! Do you still follow his orders?
In Stacy's paper, her inclusion of, "a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind-..." was great I loved those words in the story...What does it mean to be a dead paper, when the author makes the yellow wall paper come alive...and the mind of the woman is brimming full of life that comes off the paper. Stacy's words, " the situation is taken as gospel, while the woman's viewpoint is thrown out as rubbish." I liked the fact that the woman's mind appear as a problem, when in effect it was the solution!
To Kathryn Taylor From Anne Segar
In "The Yellow Wall..." why does the author make the husband a physician? Your comment, "John who does everything" and does not take his wife seriously at all? Why doctors are supposed to have all knowledge, but in the story, it is only the woman's view that is shown, except for the restrictions that are dictated by the male character, John.
You comment on "the male\female thing, meaning the male is the dominant creature," lends evidence of the author's intention to say something by making the husband a physcian. The woman talks, the wall paper talks indirectly through the woman and the husband gives orders....medicine to be taken...no writing...prescriptions given.... Why doesn't the woman get well if the doctor is so intelligent? Or is the woman the well one and the doctor the sick one?
To Stacy Reed From Anne Segar
I loved your inclusion of, " a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind--) perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster. [ You see he does not believe I am sick!] The thought of the paper being dead, as if the wall paper does not come off the wall and into the woman's life. The paper (wall or otherwise) is alive, more alive thatn some of the characters who never appear in the room which is the center stage of the action. The characters merely drift int and out, the woman is the in the center and the paper is not dead, but the walls are alive more alive than John and the baby.
To Will B. From Anne Segar
In your comments on "The Yellow..." , "This story is in theme similar to two stories we've read, "Bartleby" and "Hour." Like the Master in Bartleby, the wife is obsessed, though in "Wallpaper" she is driven by her obsession to the point of abject insanity. The insanity is the story in both Bartleby and "The Yellow.." Without the insanity there would be no story. Does not one have to be a little insane to read what is in the stories...I wish a definition of "normal" in stories, I think I would not find a normal story! The narrators mind trips in both stories show something of his brain and where he intends the brains of the readers to go!
To: Victoria S. From Anne Segar
I though your comment, "I believe that someone doing a feminist hypertext of the story would definitely question why John will not let this woman write and why he orders her around so." This story certainly lends itself to a feminist reading and has a great many clues for the "feminist hypertext writer" to "see this as John making his wife inferior...very dependent...lets me stir without special direction"...is in control of her and her every move..." The author in effect is controlling the reading by her writing.
FROM: Will Beebe
Stacy-I still do not gather your meaning concerning your statement that this is a "dead paper." I have found that, as Anne indicated, that 'the author makes the yellow wall paper come alive...and the mind of the woman is brimming full of life that comes off the paper.' I interpret this in terms of narrative POV. That is, that the reliability of the narrator resides within her description of the wallpaper, that her perspective lies in the wallpaper's--as Shakespeare says--holding a mirror up to [her] nature. The patterns she sees in the wallpaper are reflections of herself, the state of her human condition. I hardly think that this is a manifestation of a dead mind, although this may not be what you meant. FROM Ann Woodlief
My final thoughts on this discussion. Actually I don't have a great deal to add; you have managed to hit on many critical points in and about the story. Some of you confused the narrator of the story with Charlotte Perkins Gilman--a perfectly natural mistake, especially after you read her essay on why she wrote the story. However, that can cause problems in reading, just as Sadina was talking about her being a single parent and having trouble because of that (that isn't in the story at all, or in Gilman's life, since she left both husband AND baby). Though she definitely used her own experience in writing this story, the narrator is still a fictional character that she created! You can't read from Gilman's life into the gaps of the story; you can only use clues given in the text. (One has similar problems in reading Poe). One major question for many people is whether the narrator is mad at the end, or whether she is finally emerging from her "madness," as symbolized by her crawling over her husband over and over again. Guess which ending the feminist interpretation is likely to prefer!