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20100128-930 Gilman (Group 4)

Page history last edited by Brian Croxall 10 years, 7 months ago



     Today in class, we discussed the "Yellow Wall-Paper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Published in 1892, the story is about a woman who is 'sick' and quarantined to the attic of a house. Gilman slowly reveals the objects in the room such as the disgusting yellow wallpaper along with a gate by the stairs, barred windows, and the bed nailed to the floor. These descriptions begin to portray the room as an asylum or prison rather than a nursery. As the room begins to transform or reveal itself, the narrator also seems to gradually become more insane, completely losing her mind by the end of the narrative.

     Throughout class we talked about a woman's role during this time period and how it is reflective of a woman's "domestic sphere;" a woman lived under the expectation that she would be the caretaker of the house. In this "emanation of womanhood," a woman essentially had the role of being seen and not heard. The woman would be a mother and wife—controlling the environment of the house and preserving its stability and safety. The woman in "The Yellow Wall-Paper" seemingly lives in accordance with this view as caretaker of the home when she says, of her husband John, "I must take care of myself for his sake, and keep well" (813). She continues doing things for him as well as giving the appearance of being childish. Not only calling the narrator, at one point, his blessed little goose, John also takes her in his arms one night, carries her off to bed, and then reads to her until she falls asleep (813).

     The "Yellow Wall-Paper" emanates Realism because the story realistically depicts the inner-workings of a mind suffering from a nervous breakdown and documents the narrator's psychological torment. It discusses the realism of postpartum depression and the psychological state.


Word Count: 306




 "So I take phosphates or phosphites...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. But what is one to do? I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal-- having to be so sly about it or else meet with heavy opposition" (808-9).

 This passage tells the reader that the narrator is becoming "drugged" by society's perception of womanhood. Furthermore, it also exemplifies her defiance against the viewpoints of women during the period as well as her disbelief of what her husband and his sister think she should do in order to get well. However, she is under the oppression of womanhood and is obligated to obey the rules set upon her by her husband and society. The reader begins to glimpse the exhaustion the narrator feels as this "drug" begins to take effect at the end of the passage when even her passion for writing tires her because she has to hide it.  


"It was nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls" (809).

The narrator tells the reader that she believes, or "should judge" (809), that the room used to be a nursery. However, the conditions the room is in based on her perceptions are contrary to what a nursery should be. This passage also highlights the childish portrayal of the narrator by placing her in a type of "nursery."


 "I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I'm sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition. But John says if I feel so, I shall neglect proper self-control; so I take pains to control myself-- before him, at least, and that makes me very tired" (809).

This excerpt from the narrative is where the reader can a better sense of how she acts around her husband; she feels she must practice self control in front of him. Unfortunately for her, it makes matters worse because she is even more tired after doing so, falling more into the preconceived notion that a woman must endure the "rest cure" when going through hysteria.


Key Terms

hysteria:  Derived from the root "hyster-" meaning uterus, this is a blanket term in order to describe any illness a woman may have.

"Emanation of Womanhood": This is a term referring to the work that women do in order to maintain the role of mother and wife that society has given to women

Comments (18)

Dawson Zimmerman said

at 9:32 pm on Jan 31, 2010

Ok so I wrote some more on the woman's roles section..... I think we should include some more about the wall-paper itself in the first paragraph of the summary. We need a couple more key terms maybe...and I'll add some more quotes eventually. But it's looking pretty good so far...

Katie Simmons said

at 3:03 am on Feb 1, 2010

I fixed some of the punctuation and grammar and made the word count go down. We need to be weary of that; we only get 250-300 words. I think we also need to include that the narrator has post postpartum depression...maybe include in the second paragraph of the summary that she lives in accordance with that idea (be seen, not heard) not only because of John, but because she is like a child as well (ex. when he puts her to bed like a small child and also calls her a sweet little goose)? We need to relate everything back to Realism, too. Unfortunately, we can only have 1-3 quotes...maybe add more, and then we can all pick the top three?

Hunter Stofan said

at 9:50 pm on Feb 1, 2010

I know this is over the word count but maybe someone can come through and edit some things out... I just felt like it would be a good idea to get all the major ideas on the page and then scale them down... as for definitions I don't remember discussing any other ones than hysteria.

Katie Simmons said

at 11:40 pm on Feb 1, 2010

I edited it some, and the word count is down...I think it looks great! What do y'all think?

Caroline Smith said

at 11:50 pm on Feb 1, 2010

I think it's great! i added just a few grammatical corrections but it's looking good!

Caroline Smith said

at 12:19 am on Feb 2, 2010

Group, I am so sorry! I was wondering why none of my notes that I posted after class on Thursday were left on our page so I checked the page history and my notes were not there either. I found my notes in the 1230 section!! I do not know how they got there, but I am sooo sorry about the mixup!

Katie Simmons said

at 12:22 am on Feb 2, 2010

Were there any major differences between what you have and what we put together here?

Dawson Zimmerman said

at 1:00 am on Feb 2, 2010

should we attempt to give a brief description about the individual quotes?

Katie Simmons said

at 1:03 am on Feb 2, 2010

I was trying to do that...I think it's funny how we're fighting over the lock!

Dawson Zimmerman said

at 1:05 am on Feb 2, 2010

haha sorry i was making some parts a little more concise...the lock is all yours.

Katie Simmons said

at 1:09 am on Feb 2, 2010

That's alright. Thanks!

Katie Simmons said

at 1:24 am on Feb 2, 2010

I added the descriptions for the quotes, but I'm not sure about the last one. What do y'all think?

Katie Simmons said

at 9:36 am on Feb 2, 2010

Thanks Dawson!

Brian Croxall said

at 5:33 pm on Feb 5, 2010

This is a very good first set of notes. I'm glad that you were able to use the comments section of the page to discuss the evolution of the notes. That's exactly how this tool is supposed to work.

Most of your summary is very good. I was worried at first that the first paragraph was providing more plot summary than summary of our class discussion, but you eventually got there. Still, be wary of this in the future. The furnishings of the room are important to notice, but so is the way in which Gilman only slowly reveals them to us, just as the narrator's slip into madness is only slowly revealed.

You've chosen some good passages, but I think you might have made a bit much out of her taking phosphates. I know that this was mentioned in class, but you would have to do some more digging to find out what these compounds would have done to the narrator. Two of the passages refer to these drugs, and I honestly don't know if we can attribute her behavior to them. It seems much more likely that the "drug" that she is on is the conception of womanhood that society has placed before her and so she doesn't see that the attic looks like a prison. Does that make sense? With the first passage, I think it could have also been interesting to see you extend the passage just a little further to where she talks about the exhaustion that comes from writing because she has to hide it. If you had an extra passage, you could have also considered where she says that she feels badly that she isn't doing her domestic duties.

For the definitions, you get hysteria right, but "emanation of womanhood" isn't. Instead, people would have referred to these as characteristics of women. But they felt that they were inherent within them. In other words, these traits and characteristics did emanate from within these women, but the term was different.

Caroline Smith said

at 2:02 pm on Feb 8, 2010

alright i made some corrections that were recommended by professor croxall. i wasnt sure about what was meant about the "emanation of womanhood" definition being wrong, tho so i didn't fix that one. let me know what yall think!

Hunter Stofan said

at 4:25 pm on Feb 8, 2010

i think emanation of womanhood refers to the work that woman do in order to keep up the role of a mother and a wife... let me know you guys would think this would work to be a definition because I feel like I might be stretching it too far and didnt want to post it and be way off lol

Katie Simmons said

at 9:51 pm on Feb 8, 2010

Hunter, I think that sounds about right, but that's just my opinion. Maybe something to do with how society views women as well?

Brian Croxall said

at 5:35 pm on Feb 13, 2010

I've just looked at your revised notes. You tightened up the writing of the summary to make the first paragraph comport more to a summary of our class discussion rather than plot summary. The one problem is that you're now over your word limit.

The passages are improved by having made less of the "drugs." I was also glad to see you add the next sentence to the first passage you quoted, but I think the whole explanation could have been written in a more straightforward manner.

Your use of the phrase "emanation of womanhood" still feels strange. This isn't a real term, but was just how I explained the nineteenth century viewed woman's work--as a natural product of her being a woman. If anything, you perhaps should have defined what "woman" means. Perhaps I should have made that more clear in the previous email.

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