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The Yellow Wallpaper as the story of feminist literature

The Yellow Wallpaper

Charlotte Parkinson Gilman

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The Yellow Wallpaper as the story of feminist literature

Explain The Yellow Wallpaper as the story of feminist literature.

The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story by American author Charlotte Parkinson Gilman. It was first published in New England Magazine in January 1892. It is considered one of the earliest works of American feminist literature depicting attitudes toward mental and physical health.

Narrated in the first person, the story is a collection of journal entries written by a woman whose doctor husband (John) has rented an old mansion for the summer. Leaving the other rooms in the house, the couple moved to the nursery upstairs. As a form of treatment, the unnamed woman is forbidden to work, and is encouraged to eat well and get plenty of air, so she can cure what she calls "temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency," which is a common disease of women during this period.

This story has been interpreted by feminist critics as a condemnation of male control in the nineteenth-century medical profession. Throughout the short story the narrator gives him a lot of advices to help him do better, such as practicing, working or socializing with the outside world. Although her ideas are immediately rejected yet she used language that considers her reasonable and therefore incapable of giving an idea about her own condition. This interpretation draws attention to the notion of the β€œdomestic field” that was held by women during this period.

Many feminist critics focus on the degree of victory at the end of the story. While some claim the narrator went insane, others end up as the agency's statement about a woman who thinks she's stuck in a marriage. The emphasis on reading and writing as a gender practice also illustrates the importance of wallpaper. If the narrator was not allowed to write or read in his journal, he started "reading" the wallpaper until he was looking for her. By looking at the women on the wallpaper, the narrator realized that he could not live his life as a prisoner. At the end of the story, when her husband lay unconscious on the floor, she crawled over him, symbolically rising above him. It is interpreted as a victory against the husband by spending on the failure of the husband.

In her essay, Feminist Criticism 'Yellow Wallpaper, and the Politics of American Color," Susan S. Lanser, a professor at the University of Brandine, praised the role of contemporary feminism and research in changing and interpreting literature. "The Yellow Wallpaper" was one of the many stories that lost its dominance in the literary world because of an ideology that defined the content of essays as disturbing or offensive.

"The Yellow Wallpaper" provided feminists with tools to interpret literature in a variety of ways. Lancer argued that the short story "is a particularly innate medium for this kind of reconsideration. She engages in the form of a feminist interpretation when the narrator himself tries to read her wall paper." The narrator of the story is trying to find a single meaning in the wallpaper. At first he concentrated on the retro style of the wallpaper: it was "flashing" and "dull", "accent" still "lame" and "uncertain". He considers the patterns and tries to organize them geometrically but he becomes more confused. The wallpaper changes color when it reflects light and emits a distinctive odor that the protagonist cannot detect. At night the narrator was able to see behind a woman's bar in the intricate designs of wallpaper. Lancer argued that the unnamed woman was "able to find a place in the text above which she could self-project anything that could detect it."

Like the narrator as a reader, when someone comes in contact with a confusing and complex writing, someone tries to find a meaning. "How we were taught to read," as Lancer writes, is why no reader fully understands the text. The patriarchal ideology prevented many scholars from being able to interpret and appreciate stories like "The Yellow Wallpaper". With the development of feminist critique, yellow wallpaper has become a basic text of the standard curriculum. Feminists have made great contributions to the study of literature, but according to Lancer, these are declining because "if we acknowledge the influential thinking of women writers and readers and their participation in social practice, perhaps even our own patterns can be stimulated," we still have to recover hidden or ignored meanings.

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