Utopia and Dystopia Group Discussion

In our group discussion, my group and I compared both stories, “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Cottagette”, and determined which is Utopia and Dystopia. Utopia refers to a world that is considered to be perfect, while Dystopia refers to a place where the conditions of life are unpleasant. After comparing the characters and plot in each story, we figured that “The Yellow Wallpaper”  is a dystopia and “The Cottagette”  is a utopia.

In the story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” the narrator is suffering from depression and tries to recover, but she feels that she is trapped in the mansion. Since her husband is a doctor, he prevents her from going outside and suggests her that she should stay in and rest. Our group discussed that the narrator felt content with the mansion in the beginning. However, as the story progresses, the narrator seems to feel uncomfortable in her room. She asks her husband to change the yellow wallpaper, but he refuses to do so. This is the point where this story shows dystopia. The narrator states, “I am getting angry enough to do something desperate. To jump out of the window would be admirable exercise, but the bars are too strong even to try.” The unpleasantness of the yellow wallpaper causes the narrator to feel trapped in the room and eventually causes the narrator to lose her mind.

In the story, “The Cottagette” the author shows happiness throughout the story. We discussed that life is perfect for Malda. In the beginning, Malda expresses how elated she is with the cottage. Additionally, Malda’s husband treats her good and keeps her happy. Malda’s husband, Ford, states “Your work is quite too good to lose; it is a beautiful and distinctive art, and I don’t want you to let it go.” Here, we can see that he supports her and does not want her to quit. Furthermore, in the end, it is revealed that Ford is in love with Malda and wants to marry her regardless of her cooking. This shows that Malda’s life is perfect.

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2 thoughts on “Utopia and Dystopia Group Discussion

  1. Charlie Caron

    I would add that a large part of the Utopia vs. Dystopia comparison for these 2 works is the men in the protagonists lives. Malda’s life is so good, not only because of her living situation with the commune and her ability to pursue her art, but also because Ford is so supportive and wants for her to be happy. On the opposite side, the dystopia of The Yellow Wallpaper is mostly due to the men in the Narrator’s life. She’s suffering from a mental illness, possibly due to her recent birth, and it spirals out of control because her husband and brother(the doctors) aren’t taking her complaints seriously.

    There’s probably something to be said about how much influence men have over women in our society, especially back when these pieces were written, but someone else could definitely do a better job on that than me.

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  2. Jody R. Rosen

    It’s a smart observation that your group discussed the nature of the set-up in the stories vs. the endings. You discussed how the house in “The Yellow Wall-Paper” made it at first seem ideal, like a utopia for healing, but then revealed itself to be the setting for this dystopia. Similarly, the addition of the kitchen in “The Cottagette” makes the story seem dystopic, but ultimately we see it as a utopia. What different endings would make these opposite of what we understand them to be, and more in keeping with what we might expect from the beginning or middle of the stories?

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