“Here was the friend I lived so happily with, and all this fairy land of sun and shadow, the free immensity of our view, and the dainty comfort of the Cottagette.”
In “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, it talked about how a husband and wife moved to a new place to live because of the wife’s health. In the house she spots a wallpaper, and every night she would feel uneasy because how it looked and felt something was wrong with it. I feel that the wallpaper symbolizes herself. For example she said “a night in any kind of light, in twilight, candle light, lamplight, and worst of all by moonlight, it becomes bars!”(p65) and “By daylight she is subdued, quiet. I fancy it is the pattern that keeps her so still.”(p65), because at night she would freak out and complain to her husband that the wallpaper is bother her and something is weird about it. In the morning she would be calm and quiet that nothing was going on. Another example would be when she said she saw a women behind it. I feel like the women is her because she said that at night the wallpaper would become bars and in the story she is trapped in the room and can’t go anywhere because of her health. So when she ripped the wallpaper down on the day when she was going to leave, showed that she was finally set free from being confined in that room.
In “The Cottagette” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, started off by Malda who was getting love advice from her friend Lois since she was married before, but now divorced. Lois said “but what they want to marry is a homemaker”, telling her that Mr. Matthews would love her if she does the chores around the house. So then she started cooking for him, but from all the cooking and cleaning she never got time to do what she really wanted to do which was draw. So one day he took her out to a picnic and told her to stop cooking and go back to doing what she loved, that he would still love her even though she stopped with the chores.
One thing I wanted to point out in the story when it said “Then Lois unfolded her plan. She had been married, –unhappily married, in her youth; that was all over and done with years ago; she had told me about it long since; and she said she did not regret the pain and loss because it had given her experience, She had her maiden name again-and freedom. She was so fond of me she wanted to give me the benefit of her experience–without the pain.”(p50), reminded me of “A Story Of An Hour” because they were both similar in a way. Mrs. Mallard figured out what freedom was when she found out her husband died and that she was single again. Lois on the other hand found freedom by getting a divorce because the marriage was unsuccessful. Both women faced pain and and loss, but they found freedom and also got their maiden names back.
Calceolaria (The Cottagette/Paragraphs 13, 19, 24, 45, 53)
Pronunciation: cal – ce – o – lar – ia
-a South American plant of the figwort family that is cultivated for its brightly colored slipper or pouch shaped flowers.
-Paragraph 13: They didn’t call it a boarding house, which is neither high nor musical; they called it “The Calceolaria.”
-Paragraph 19: And yet that Calceolaria was only two minutes off…”
-Paragraph 24: We never had to think of ordinary things till the soft musical thrill of the Japanese gong stole through the trees, and we trotted off to the Calceolaria.
-Paragraph 45: He comes here and sits talking with us, and it’s quiet and feminine and attractive–and then we hear that big gong at the Calceolaria…
-Paragraph 53: I wasn’t very fond of Lois’s mother, Mrs. Fowler, but it did seem a little conspicuous, Mr. Mathews eating with us more than he did at the Calceolaria.
Astonishing (adj) – causing a feeling of great surprise or wonder
source : merriam-webster
Found in “The Cottagette” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (page 51 paragraph 7)
So I was pleased, though it did interfere with my work a good deal. I always work best in the morning; but of course housework has to be done in the morning too; and it is astonishing how much work there is in the littlest kitchen.
She needs to do her work in the morning but at the same time she has to finish her housework as well. The amount of work in the small kitchen makes her surprise or wonder because there is a lot to do in the kitchen in the morning.
In Women and Economics (1898), Charlotte Perkins Gilman argued against kitchens in homes–and with them, the housework involved–as a way to free women from the domestic sphere:
Take the kitchens out of the houses, and you leave rooms which are open to any form of arrangement and extension; and the occupancy of them does not mean “housekeeping.” In such living, personal character and taste would flower as never before; the home of each individual would be at last a true personal expression; and the union of individuals in marriage would not compel the jumbling together of all the external machinery of their lives,–a process in which much of the delicacy and freshness of love, to say nothing of the power of mutual rest and refreshment, is constantly lost. The sense of lifelong freedom and self-respect and of the peace and permanence of one’s own home will do much to purify and uplift the personal relations of life, and more to strengthen and extend the social relations. The individual will learn to feel himself an integral part of the social structure, in close, direct, permanent connection with the needs and uses of society.
This is especially needed for women, who are generally considered, and who consider themselves, mere fractions of families, and incapable of any wholesome life of their own. The knowledge that peace and comfort may be theirs for life, even if they do not marry,–and may be still theirs for life, even if they do,–will develope a serenity and strength in women most beneficial to them and to the world. It is a glaring proof of the insufficient and irritating character of our existing form of marriage that women must be forced to it by the need of food and clothes, and men by the need of cooks and housekeepers. We are absurdly afraid that, if men or women can meet these needs of life by other means, they will cheerfully renounce the marriage relation. And yet we sing adoringly of the power of love!
In reality, we may hope that the most valuable effect of this change in the basis of living will be the cleansing of love and marriage from this base admixture of pecuniary interest and creature comfort, and that men and women , eternally drawn together by the deepest force in nature, will be able at last to meet on a plane of pure and perfect love. We shame our own ideals, our deepest instincts, our highest knowledge, by this gross assumption that the noblest race on earth will not mate, or, at least, not mate monogamously, unless bought and bribed through the common animal necessities of food and shelter, and chained by law and custom.
What do we think of this?
In, The Cottagette, I believe that Malda and Mr. Mathews marriage would be a harmonious and self-less love. Malda came to the Cottagette as place to relax but she end up falling in love with Ford Matthews. With this love, she took the advise of her friend, Lois, and she started to show herself as a homemaker by cooking all the time. Instead of Malda doing the things that she loved such as, embroidery, drawing, and painting, she wanted to do anything to “please Ford Mathews” (Page 51, p.2). So, this led to the kitchenette being installed at the Cottagette, making Mr. Mathews come frequently over to eat her meals, which she adored, and giving Malda a chance to show herself as a potentially good wife/homemaker in order for Mr. Mathews to marry her (Page 51, p.7). Furthermore, Malda stated that her love for Mr. Mathews would make her do much more than cooking to please him (Page 52, p.2).
As for Ford Mathews, he is a man that I think every woman would like to marry because he cared about the happiness of Malda. When he proposed to her to get married, he asked her to stop cooking because he saw that she was not doing the things that she loved (Page 53-54). Mr. Mathews realized that she gave up her artistic love to cook for him, however, he already loved Malda before she started to cook (Page 53-54). Mr. Matthews did not care if she was a good homemaker; he loved her because she was young, strong, wild, sweet, fragrant, and elusive like the wild flowers she loved (Page 54, p.11). He loved her because she was truly an artist in her special way, seeing beauty and giving it to others (Page 54, p.11). And, he loved her because she was rational, high-minded and capable of friendship, in spite of her cooking (Page 54, p.11). Therefore, this shows that Mr. Mathews fell in love with Malda because of her brains, personality, and qualities, not because she made the best bread. He encouraged Malda to do the things she loved and he cared about her desires as well. I am unsure when this story was written but if it was written during the 18th or 19th century, most men would not have the attributes of Mr. Mathews because all they would care about was their wife cooking, cleaning, and washing dishes. Also, the men in those times treated their wife as chattel or property.
In comparison to A Jury of her Peers, Mrs. Wright (Minnie Foster) had a contentious marriage. When I say contentious, I mean Mrs. Wright was living in fear throughout the duration of the marriage. The once “lively choirgirl that sang in the choir and wore pretty clothes,” was no longer lively (Page 268, p.1). Mrs. Wright’s marriage to her husband made her bound or chained to not doing the things she loved to do, which was singing. Therefore, she lived in silence until the time she killed her husband in order to be set free from his oppression. I also like to point out that Mr. Wright did not have self-less love like Mr. Mathews had. Mr. Wright was a “hard man” (Page 274 p.8) and he refused to make his wife do anything, which ultimately made Mrs. Wright always live in constant “nervousness” because, I believe that, if she did not go by his rules or the way he wanted things to be done, he would get upset with her (Page 272).
The Cottagette is in a serene environment, high in the mountaintops in a remote beautiful landscape. It is in a resort where all the needs of the visitors are looked after, and where everyone is supposed to be happy and enjoy life. This is the perfect setting for a story about falling in love. Before Ford “pops the question”, the setting described is a perfectly romantic one, “”stopped by a spring… saw the round sun setting at one end of a world view, and the round moon rising at the other..”. This fits the story’s theme perfectly.
The Yellow Wallpaper is set in an almost haunted house. The house itself is nice enough. It has a nice big garden and plenty of rooms, but after being left uninhabited for so long has a spooky air about it. Then the room is mentioned. First noting the bars on the windows, then the wallpaper,she describes the nursery, specifically the wallpaper, “Stripped off in great patches…commited every artistic sin…color is repellent, almost revolting…no wonder the children hated it..” you can really get a feel of how the narrator feels about it. The narrator is then confined to the room with minimal interaction between her and anyone else. for someone with post-postpartum depression or someone with a predisposition to mental illness, this is the absolute best setting to have someone go crazy.
For the two stories by Charlotte Perkins Gilman that we have read, the settings are new houses where the both main characters moved to, but each house gives us quite different mood.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator describes her new house in the second paragraph. “A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity – but that would be asking too much of fate! … Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted?” Although the narrator’s husband decided to move to this house for his wife’s health and cure of her depression for the summer, she keeps telling the readers about her bad feelings about the house. She says the house looks like a haunted house, and there will be a reason for the cheap price. In page 58, the narrator mentions about the broken greenhouses. And she says “There was some legal trouble, I believe, something about the heirs and coheirs; anyhow, the place has been empty for years. That spoils my ghostliness, I am afraid, but I don’t care – there is something strange about the house – I can feel it.” Since the beginning of the story, the narrator describes her new house negatively including the “repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight” wallpaper. All these word choices of the author provide readers information that the narrator doesn’t like the house and negative atmosphere throughout the story as well.
On the other hand, in “The Cottagette,” the narrator, Ms. Malda, provides us the description of setting in the third paragraph. “I was delighted with it. More than delighted. Here this tiny shell of fresh unpainted wood peeped out from under the trees, the only house in sight except the distant white specks on far off farms, and the little wandering village in the river-threaded valley. It sat right on the turf,–no road, no path even, and the dark woods shadowed the back windows.” In paragraph 7, the narrator says “never did I know the real joy and peace of living, before that blessed summer at “High Court.”” When describing the house, the use of all these positive word choices of the narrator in the third paragraph gives the reader the positive impact about the house. Also in the paragraph 7, she feels “the real joy and peace of living” during the summer at the new place.
Even the settings for the two stories are same as a new place where the main character started to live and both are little far from the town, the house in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is depicted as an abandoned haunted house, whereas the “Cottagette” looks more peaceful and bright.