In class today, we began our discussion of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” and “The Cottagette,” both by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I also gave everyone a copy of “Why I Wrote the The Yellow Wallpaper” so we can consider how Gilman describes her rationale.
If you need to remind yourself of what blogging for homework entails, what your responsibilities are, or when posts and comments are due, re-read this semester’s blogging assignment.
Here are some thoughts to get our conversations started:
- I had asked last time about the idea of an unreliable narrator, a narrator that the reader cannot trust to be truthful or fully depicting the story. Using quotations from the Gilman texts to support your argument, compare Malda and our unnamed narrator (or is she Jane?).
- We can argue that some of the stories we’ve read offer endings that make the best of bad situations. Do you think “The Cottagette” offers a truly happy ending? What about “The Yellow Wall-Paper”?
- In Susan Sniader Lanser’s groundbreaking study, Fictions of Authority: Women Writers and Narrative Voice, Lanser argues that social pressures not only constrained the content of the narrative but the narration style itself. Early in her book, Lanser includes a letter that showcases one writer’s solution to the limitations she found in writing negatively about her marriage. When I read this letter and Lanser’s analysis of it, I wonder what techniques Charlotte Perkins Gilman employed to convey a positive message about the narrator’s feelings about her husband while also conveying something much different to a more tuned-in reader. Read the letter on pages 9-11 of Fictions of Authority and write a post that reflects on the ways in which we might understand information without it being directly narrated, particularly in “The Yellow Wall-Paper.”
- We didn’t have a chance to discuss yet the words utopia and dystopia as they can be used to describe the two short stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman that we read. What do those words mean? Which story is utopian and which is dystopian? Why?
- “The Yellow Wall-Paper” was once believed to have been out of print from 1920 until feminist scholars re-discovered it in the 1970s. Here are two possible topics to consider based on this statement:
- How do you read “The Yellow Wall-Paper” or “The Cottagette” as a feminist text? What does that mean?
- According to one examination of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” and its publication history, the story did remain in print in between its reprint in 1920 and its feminist re-discovery in the 1970s: in horror-story collections. In what ways do you see “The Yellow Wall-Paper” as a horror story? Include specific references to the text to support your claims.
- What connections do you see among the stories assigned from the start of the semester and either or both of Gilman’s stories? Are there trends you can identify? Or contrasting situations/characters/styles that are worth noting in their difference? Be specific!