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.
In my group discussion we talked about the non-romantic relationships in both stories. The yellow wallpaper really stood out for us because there was a lot of connections in that story. What really stood out to us is that the john’s wife never was given a name. We had some disagreements about whether or not her name is Jane. Some believe that her name is Jane, others believe that Jane is the name of the woman in the wall, some believe that it was a typo for John’s sisters name Jennifer, I believe that Charles made a great point about how when someone is unidentified they call them Jane Doe. We made many connections with John’s wife becoming one with the wallpaper and thats exactly how she is. A women trapped all day long, unable to express emotions and very tied down. Due to the fact that she was unable to express her feelings because then everybody think she’s crazy, she starts to connect and become one with this wallpaper. She starts to rip the wallpaper off-the-wall and she bites into it because she feels like if that wallpaper stays up there that somehow she’s going to get trapped into it. She does not care what’s going to happen if she does it she doesn’t care that her husband fainted, she’s just going to use him as a step stool to rip off more of the wallpaper. Unfortunately, the Yellow wallpaper was so interesting with all these meanings and connects that my group did not get to talking about the relationship in The Cottagette so my group members have a great comment opportunity to talk about the non romantic relationships in that story and also they can state who they believe is Jane in the Story the yellow wallpaper.
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.
Most stories that we have read have always made the best out of an unfortunate situation it is known that stories usually have a happy ending although some struggles. In the story “The Cottagette” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I feel like there was a happy ending because Malda and Ford truly had feelings for it and at the end Ford really only wanted the best for Malda. He knew that she had a passion and he wanted her to pursue it.
“But you haven’t done half as much of your lovely work since you started this kitchen business, and–you’ll forgive me, dear–it hasn’t been as good. 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.” Ford saw Malda’s potential and wanted to her to keep growing even if that meant that he had to sacrifice being taken care of. “Could I? Could I? Was there ever a man like this?” This was the closing of the short story and it shows that Malda was in disbelief that there was actually a man like this would put her before himself. Also that she can have her love but also keep her passion which was the perfect ending for her character.
Malda always thought that she had to cater to the man and everything she did had to be for him because that was the typical role for men and women in relationships back then. She was shocked when Ford said that he would take over the cooking and actually payed attention to how her art suffered from her having to cook and clean. Although Malda was confused at first she realized that that was what she truly wanted. he didn’t have to give anything up or choose between anything. I think this short story offers a truly 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.
If you want to know more about what I’ve asked you to think about, read all previous homework assignment posts, or your classmates’ homework posts.
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!