After three months and almost desperate, Gilman decided to contravene her diagnosis, along with the treatment methods, and started to work again. Aware of how close she had come to complete mental breakdown, the author wrote The Yellow Wallpaper with additions and exaggerations to illustrate her own criticism for the medical field.
Gilman sent a copy to Mitchell but never received a response. She added that The Yellow Wallpaper was "not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked". Gilman claimed that many years later she learned that Mitchell had changed his treatment methods, but literary historian Julie Bates Dock has discredited this. Mitchell continued his methods, and as late as — 16 years after "The Yellow Wallpaper" was published — was interested in creating entire hospitals devoted to the "rest cure" so that his treatments would be more widely accessible.
This story has been interpreted by feminist critics as a condemnation of the male control of the 19th-century medical profession. Her ideas, though, are dismissed immediately while using language that stereotypes her as irrational and, therefore, unqualified to offer ideas about her own condition. This interpretation draws on the concept of the " domestic sphere " that women were held in during this period.
Many feminist critics focus on the degree of triumph at the end of the story. Although some claim the narrator slipped into insanity, others see the ending as a woman's assertion of agency in a marriage in which she felt trapped.
If the narrator were allowed neither to write in her journal nor to read, she would begin to "read" the wallpaper until she found the escape she was looking for. Through seeing the women in the wallpaper, the narrator realizes that she could not live her life locked up behind bars. At the end of the story, as her husband lies on the floor unconscious, she crawls over him, symbolically rising over him. This is interpreted as a victory over her husband, at the expense of her sanity.
Lanser, a professor at Brandeis University, praises contemporary feminism and its role in changing the study and the interpretation of literature. Critics such as the editor of the Atlantic Monthly rejected the short story because "[he] could not forgive [himself] if [he] made others as miserable as [he] made [himself].
Lanser argues that the short story was a "particularly congenial medium for such a re-vision. At first she focuses on contradictory style of the wallpaper: She takes into account the patterns and tries to geometrically organize them, but she is further confused.
The wallpaper changes colors when it reflects light and emits a distinct odor which the protagonist cannot recognize p. At night the narrator is able to see a woman behind bars within the complex design of the wallpaper. Lanser argues that the unnamed woman was able to find "a space of text on which she can locate whatever self-projection". Feminists have made a great contribution to the study of literature but, according to Lanser, are falling short because if "we acknowledge the participation of women writers and readers in dominant patterns of thought and social practice then perhaps our own patterns must also be deconstructed if we are to recover meanings still hidden or overlooked.
Cutter discusses how in many of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's works she addresses this "struggle in which a male-dominated medical establishment attempts to silence women.
In this time period it was thought that "hysteria" a disease stereotypically more common in women was a result of too much education. It was understood that women who spent time in college or studying were over-stimulating their brains and consequently leading themselves into states of hysteria.
In fact, many of the diseases recognized in women were seen as the result of a lack of self-control or self-rule. Different physicians argued that a physician must "assume a tone of authority" and that the idea of a "cured" woman is one who is "subdued, docile, silent, and above all subject to the will and voice of the physician".
Often women were prescribed bed rest as a form of treatment, which was meant to "tame" them and basically keep them imprisoned. Treatments such as this were a way of ridding women of rebelliousness and forcing them to conform to expected social roles. In her works Gilman, highlights that the harm caused by these types of treatments for woman i. Paula Treichler explains "In this story diagnosis 'is powerful and public.
It is a male voice that. The male voice is the one in which forces controls on the female and decides how she is allowed to perceive and speak about the world around her. It may be a ghost story. Worse yet, it may not. Lovecraft writes in his essay Supernatural Horror in Literature that "'The Yellow Wall Paper' rises to a classic level in subtly delineating the madness which crawls over a woman dwelling in the hideously papered room where a madwoman was once confined.
Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, in her book Wild Unrest: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Making of "The Yellow Wall-Paper" , concludes that "the story was a cri de coeur against [Gilman's first husband, artist Charles Walter] Stetson and the traditional marriage he had demanded. Anglican Archbishop Peter Carnley used the story as a reference and a metaphor for the situation of women in the church in his sermon at the ordination of the first women priests in Australia on 7 March in St George's Cathedral, Perth.
In another interpretation, Sari Edelstein has argued that "The Yellow Wallpaper" is an allegory for Gilman's hatred of the emerging yellow journalism. Having created The Forerunner in November , Gilman made it clear she wished the press to be more insightful and not rely upon exaggerated stories and flashy headlines. Gilman was often scandalized in the media and resented the sensationalism of the media. The relationship between the narrator and the wallpaper within the story parallels Gilman's relationship to the press.
The protagonist describes the wallpaper as having "sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin". Treichler's article "Escaping the Sentence: Diagnosis and Discourse in 'The Yellow Wallpaper'", she places her focus on the relationship portrayed in the short story between women and writing. Rather than write about the feminist themes which view the wallpaper as something along the lines of ". Treichler illustrates that through this discussion of language and writing, in the story Charlotte Perkins Gilman is defying the ".
This is supported in the fact that John, the narrator's husband, does not like his wife to write anything, which is the reason her journal containing the story is kept a secret and thus is known only by the narrator and reader. A look at the text shows that as the relationship between the narrator and the wallpaper grows stronger, so too does her language in her journal as she begins to increasingly write of her frustration and desperation.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The New England Magazine. Descent and Return in The Yellow Wallpaper". ProQuest Research Library online, Oct. October 4, , p. Silas Weir Mitchell , and she sent him a copy of the story. Gilman's first book was Art Gems for the Home and Fireside ; however, it was her first volume of poetry, In This Our World , a collection of satirical poems, that first brought her recognition.
During the next two decades she gained much of her fame with lectures on women's issues, ethics, labor, human rights, and social reform. In —95 Gilman served as editor of the magazine The Impress , a literary weekly that was published by the Pacific Coast Women's Press Association formerly the Bulletin. For the twenty weeks the magazine was printed, she was consumed in the satisfying accomplishment of contributing its poems, editorials, and other articles.
The short-lived paper's printing came to an end as a result of a social bias against her lifestyle which included being an unconventional mother and a woman who had divorced a man. This book discussed the role of women in the home, arguing for changes in the practices of child-raising and housekeeping to alleviate pressures from women and potentially allow them to expand their work to the public sphere.
In she wrote one of her most critically acclaimed books, The Home: Its Work and Influence , which expanded upon Women and Economics , proposing that women are oppressed in their home and that the environment in which they live needs to be modified in order to be healthy for their mental states. In between traveling and writing, her career as a literary figure was secured. By presenting material in her magazine that would "stimulate thought", "arouse hope, courage and impatience", and "express ideas which need a special medium", she aimed to go against the mainstream media which was overly sensational.
The magazine had nearly 1, subscribers and featured such serialized works as What Diantha Did , The Crux , Moving the Mountain , and Herland. The Forerunner has been cited as being "perhaps the greatest literary accomplishment of her long career". Her autobiography, The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman , which she began to write in , appeared posthumously in Perkins-Gilman married Charles Stetson in , and less than a year later gave birth to their daughter Katharine.
Already susceptible to depression, her symptoms were exacerbated by marriage and motherhood. A good proportion of her diary entries from the time she gave birth to her daughter until several years later describe the oncoming depression that she was to face.
On April 18, , Gilman wrote in her diary that she was very sick with "some brain disease" which brought suffering that cannot be felt by anybody else, to the point that her "mind has given way.
After nine weeks, Gilman was sent home with Mitchell's instructions, "Live as domestic a life as possible. Have your child with you all the time Lie down an hour after each meal. Have but two hours' intellectual life a day. And never touch pen, brush or pencil as long as you live. By early summer the couple had decided that a divorce was necessary for her to regain sanity without affecting the lives of her husband and daughter. During the summer of , Charlotte and Katharine spent time in Bristol, Rhode Island , away from Walter, and it was there where her depression began to lift.
She writes of herself noticing positive changes in her attitude. She returned to Providence in September. She sold property that had been left to her in Connecticut, and went with a friend, Grace Channing, to Pasadena where the cure of her depression can be seen through the transformation of her intellectual life.
Gilman called herself a humanist and believed the domestic environment oppressed women through the patriarchal beliefs upheld by society. Gilman argued that male aggressiveness and maternal roles for women were artificial and no longer necessary for survival in post-prehistoric times. She wrote, "There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex.
Might as well speak of a female liver. Her main argument was that sex and domestic economics went hand in hand; for a woman to survive, she was reliant on her sexual assets to please her husband so that he would financially support his family.
From childhood, young girls are forced into a social constraint that prepares them for motherhood by the toys that are marketed to them and the clothes designed for them. She argued that there should be no difference in the clothes that little girls and boys wear, the toys they play with, or the activities they do, and described tomboys as perfect humans who ran around and used their bodies freely and healthily.
Gilman argued that women's contributions to civilization, throughout history, have been halted because of an androcentric culture. She believed that womankind was the underdeveloped half of humanity, and improvement was necessary to prevent the deterioration of the human race.
In she published Women and Economics , a theoretical treatise which argued, among other things, that women are subjugated by men, that motherhood should not preclude a woman from working outside the home, and that housekeeping, cooking, and child care, would be professionalized. Gilman became a spokesperson on topics such as women's perspectives on work, dress reform, and family. Housework, she argued, should be equally shared by men and women, and that at an early age women should be encouraged to be independent.
Gilman argues that the home should be socially redefined. The home should shift from being an "economic entity" where a married couple live together because of the economic benefit or necessity, to a place where groups of men and groups of women can share in a "peaceful and permanent expression of personal life. Gilman believed having a comfortable and healthy lifestyle should not be restricted to married couples; all humans need a home that provides these amenities.
Gilman suggest that a communal type of housing open to both males and females, consisting of rooms, rooms of suites and houses, should be constructed. This would allow individuals to live singly and still have companionship and the comforts of a home. Both males and females would be totally economically independent in these living arrangements allowing for marriage to occur without either the male or the female's economic status having to change.
The structural arrangement of the home is also redefined by Gilman. She removes the kitchen from the home leaving rooms to be arranged and extended in any form and freeing women from the provision of meals in the home. The home would become a true personal expression of the individual living in it. Ultimately the restructuring of the home and manner of living will allow individuals, especially women, to become an "integral part of the social structure, in close, direct, permanent connection with the needs and uses of society.
How can Race A best and most quickly promote the development of Race B? Gilman also believed old stock Americans of British colonial descent were giving up their country to immigrants who, she said, were diluting the nation's reproductive purity. Gilman's feminist works often included stances and arguments for reforming the use of domesticated animals. Additionally, in Moving the Mountain Gilman addresses the ills of animal domestication related to inbreeding.
In "When I Was a Witch," the narrator witnesses and intervenes in instances of animal use as she travels through New York, liberating work horses, cats, and lapdogs by rendering them "comfortably dead.
One anonymous letter submitted to the Boston Transcript read, "The story could hardly, it would seem, give pleasure to any reader, and to many whose lives have been touched through the dearest ties by this dread disease, it must bring the keenest pain. To others, whose lives have become a struggle against heredity of mental derangement, such literature contains deadly peril.
Should such stories be allowed to pass without severest censure? Positive reviewers describe it as impressive because it is the most suggestive and graphic account of why women who live monotonous lives are susceptible to mental illness. Although Gilman had gained international fame with the publication of Women and Economics in , by the end of World War I , she seemed out of tune with her times.
In her autobiography she admitted that "unfortunately my views on the sex question do not appeal to the Freudian complex of today, nor are people satisfied with a presentation of religion as a help in our tremendous work of improving this world.
Lane writes in Herland and Beyond that "Gilman offered perspectives on major issues of gender with which we still grapple; the origins of women's subjugation, the struggle to achieve both autonomy and intimacy in human relationships; the central role of work as a definition of self; new strategies for rearing and educating future generations to create a humane and nurturing environment.
Gilman published short stories in magazines, newspapers, and many were published in her self-published monthly, The Forerunner. Many literary critics have ignored these short stories. The majority of Gilman's dramas are inaccessible as they are only available from the originals. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 23 June University Press of Virginia: Retrieved 26 August
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