In “The Cottagette” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, I believe the story offers a truly happy ending. Malda had talent but she thought she needed to please the guy she loves. She was told from Lois, that men love to marry a homemaker. Lois got her happy ending. She was miserable in her marriage. She didn’t regret the pain and once she changed back to her maiden name she felt free and truly happy. Malda was going to give up her needlework to be a housewife. Her soon to be fiance has noticed that she has been cooking recently. When he asked Malda to marry her, she said yes and he told her that there’s one condition and it’s that she shouldn’t cook. He told her that he doesn’t want her to give up what she truly loves and has talent for instead of cooking for him. When Ford says “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.” I believe it’s a happy ending for them because he truly loves her for who she is and he doesn’t want her to force herself to cook just because it’s a gender role. Being in love with someone means you support them and motivate them to follow their passion. He can cook and he is willing to cook for them so she can do what she loves and I believe that’s true love. You being able to support your partner in any way is true love. Ford is okay with him cooking for the both of them and making that sacrifice for the girl he loves and I believe that’s a true happy ending.
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!
Think about narrator reliability, about who the reader is (implied reader, ideal reader, narrate) (read about these terms in a comment on this post)
“Cottagette”: man and woman, where he isn’t in control of her, wants her to be who she is rather than expecting something from her; This is the case for Malda and Ford, but not for everyone
Striking sense of equality that Ford brings into the story
“The Yellow Wall-Paper”: man in control of the woman
John treats her as…through his actions he laughs at her, tells her she isn’t sick, how he regulates her treatment based on not believing she’s sick.
Narrator writing to rebel; to keep sane
Time that they’re living in: turn of the 20th century, late 1800s: context
who is the woman in the wallpaper? what is the relationship between the woman and the narrator
john always controls her
YW-P harder to understand: patterns,
Chintz (noun) – a usually glazed printed cotton fabric
“I wanted one downstairs that opened on the piazza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings! but John would not hear of it.” (Gilman, pg. 2)
I understand that the word chintz is used to identify that a curtain, that is made out of cotton, and that it has designs on it. It was in one of the rooms that she liked that John did not approve of because there wasn’t enough room to his liking.
Congenial (adjective) – pleasant; especially : agreeably suited to one’s nature, tastes, or outlook.
From: “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Gillman
“So I take phosphates or phosphites—whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again. Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.”
Here, the author is saying that the narrator likes do work that they enjoy, find to be pleasant and that suits them. In this case, the narrator likes to do work that provides excitement and change.
“I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus- but John says the very worst thing i can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad. So I will let it alone and talk about the house.” This quote shows that she is a unreliable narrator because she doesn’t really have a mind of her own like any other narrator would have. She makes her decisions based on what her husbands says.
“Jennie wanted to sleep with me- the sly thing ! but i told her I should undoubtedly rest better for a night all alone. That was clever, for really I wasn’t alone a bit ! As soon as it was moonlight and that poor thing began to crawl and shake the pattern, I got up and ran to help her. I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled, and before morning we had peeled off yards of that paper. A strip about as high as my head and half around the room. And then when the sun came and that awful pattern began to laugh at me, I declared I would finish it to-day !” This is where the narrator starts to show us that she’s not in the right state of mind. She sees things that others are not able to see which leaves her unreliable.
“And then I said it again, several times, very gently and slowly, and said it so often that he had to go and see, and he got it of course, and came in. “For God’s sake, what are you doing !” I kept on creeping just the same, but I looked at him over my shoulder. “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!” Now this quote finally proves that she isn’t in the complete state of mind. She loses herself in order to understand herself. She detangled her life but also tore herself apart in getting free of it. I think the “Jane” she speaks about is actually herself indicating she is also free of her own self. She basically tried to control herself that was entirely true to her.
“At first he meant to repaper the room, but afterwards he said that I was letting it get the better of me, and that nothing was worst for a nervous patient than to give way to such fancies. He said that after the wall-paper was changed it would be the heavy bedstead, and then the barred windows, and then that gate at the end of the stairs and so on. “You know the place is doing you good, ” he said, “and really, dear, I don’t care to renovate the house just for three month rental” “Then do let us go downstairs ,” I said, “There are such pretty rooms there.” Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said he would go down to the cellar, if I wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain. But he is right enough about the beds and windows and things. It is and airy and comfortable room as any one need wish, and, of course, I would not be so silly as to make him uncomfortable just for a whim.” You can tell from this quote that he loves her but he feels as if he knows everything that’s best for her cause he’s a physician and that’s sometimes not the case. He is also kind of controlling and makes usually tells her what’s right from wrong an she usually always end’s up listening to him.
“And dear john gathered me up in his arms, and just carried me upstairs and laid me on the bed, and sat by me and read to me till it tired my head. He said I was his darling and his comfort and all he had , and that I must take care of myself for his sake, and keep well. He says no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and self- control and not let and silly fancies run away with me.” They have a great relationship and treats her very delicate like a baby. He is also very loving and caring to her and makes sure she’s always straight.
“…… I could and would, but you really are better dear, whether you can see it or not. I am doctor dear, I know. You are gaining flesh and color, your appetite is better, I feel really much easier about you.” ” I don’t weigh a bit more, I said, Nor as much; and my appetite may be better in the evening when you are here, but it is worse in the morning when you are way! Bless her little heart! said he with a big hug….” This quote shows that their marriage is kind of one sided. He is trying to convince her that she is getting better because he see’s progress in her health. Instead of listening to her he just goes with what he feels as if is right.
From what I understand about John as a character is that he means the best for the narrator but sometimes he doesn’t really listen to her because he thinks he’s smarter than her due to the fact that’s he’s a doctor. No one can really tell someone how they are feeling because they cant possibly feel what that person is feeling. From what I understand about the narrator is that she has a very strong mind of her own but sometimes due to her illness she gets told what to do a lot. She depicts John as a great husband throughout the story.
“If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do?” From this sentences , the narrator kept trying to convincing her husband and everyone around her that she is ill. But her husband is a physician and found nothing wrong with her. The narrator seem to have a very wild imagination, and something just didn’t seem right.
“My brother is also a physician, and also of high standing, and he says the same thing.” This is another quote that proves that there is nothing wrong with her, and she is making an excuse to be sick so people can take care of her. Even her brother who is a physician also said the same thing as her husband. So we can tell that there is some untruthful behavior from the narrator, which makes me felt that the narrator isn’t reliable. The narrator doesn’t seem to have anything wrong with her, or this was all in her head.
“I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me.” This quote show to me that the narrator is unreliable because, she mention if she is well enough she is able to write, but so far she been writing about all of her complains about what design she didn’t like. The narrator ways of getting better from her illness is to do nothing at all, and rely on her husband john to take care of her. The narrator way to escape this depression is to write.
“Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said he would go down cellar if I wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain.” Her husband John despite thinking that his wife condition is not that serious but still does what she wants, because he is caring.
“John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him.” The narrator seem to be always complaining and exaggerating about how sick she is, and how her husband john is always not considering how ill she was. He was very much concern about her condition in general.
“My darling,” said he, “I beg of you, for my sake and for our child’s sake, as well as for your own, that you will never for one instant let that idea enter your mind! There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a temperament like yours. It is a false and foolish fancy. Can you not trust me as a physician when I tell you so?” This show how much her husband cares for her, despite the fact that her illness is based on her nervous depression. It felt to me like the little things that the narrator is depicting about the house, like the yellow wall paper and how she didn’t like it, and how much it disturbed her, which can be an excuse to why she feeling depress due to her surrounding.
The narrator later started to hide her journals writing from her husband, but she was still not happy about the fact that he still shows very little concern about her illness. The narrator seem to have a very wild imagination, which her husband was against. Her obsession with wall paper grew over time, and she couldn’t stop herself. Her possession with wallpaper, and pattern had trapped her, and causes her insanity.
Three of you have volunteered to post for Monday’s class (meaning post by end-of-day on Friday). Are there two or three more volunteers to post as well? If so, please respond here with a comment letting me know you intend to be one of our posters. Everyone should respond to your classmates’ posts by Monday at 10am. Try to generate a conversation, rather than just a series of agreements!
If you need to remind yourself of what we’re doing, re-read this semester’s blogging assignment.
Here are some thoughts to get our conversations started:
An unreliable narrator is a narrator that the reader cannot trust to be truthful or fully depicting the story. Use that term to consider any of the narrators we have encountered so far, using quotations from texts to support your argument.
Choose three quotations from Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper” that convince you that the protagonist is an unreliable narrator and explain why for each.
Choose three quotations from “The Yellow Wall-Paper” that present the married couple’s relationship, and explain what you understand about John as a character, and about the protagonist as a narrator for the way she depicts John.
We might use the words utopia and dystopia 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?
How do the different settings come into play in these two short stories by Gilman? In what ways might we read the settings as similar but the inhabitants of those worlds as different?
Is Malda a reliable narrator in “The Cottagette”? why or why not? Incorporate quotations into your answer to support your argument.
What unfinished business do we have about “A Rose for Emily”? Use this opportunity to focus our attention on a particular passage or series of passages that you want to insist we get to before we move on to focus more on other texts.
What unfinished business do we have about any of our texts from this semester? Use this opportunity to focus our attention on a particular passage or series of passages that you want to insist we get to before we move on to focus more on other texts.
I’m very interested in reading about your thoughts on these two stories next week!