Feminism in “The Yellow Wallpaper”

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Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Required Specs: 1,000 – 1,200 words
1 inch margins
Double spaced
MLA standard formatting
3 – 4 secondary sources (two must come from scholarly journals)

This assignment asks us to continue practicing argumentative, research-based writing. This time, however, our focus is not on a Social Issue, but on Analyzing a Cultural Artifact.

Cultural Artifacts are just what they sound like: objects, artworks, texts, stories, images, mythologies, structures, etc. produced in a given time and place by a given person/persons/people. Often, these artifacts can provide a glimpse into the inner lives and meanings of a culture. They REVEAL. What they reveal often depends upon the context of production, the context of the analysis, and the lens being employed by the analyst. Using a Feminist lens will help illuminate the way that a given text produces and replicates sex and gender roles, the power dynamic between characters of different sexes, or the tensions arising from societal constraints on gender. Using a Marxist lens can illuminate the dynamic between the different classes, the ways in which characters acquiesce to or fight against the status quo, or the frustrations resulting from work and money and power. A Psychoanalytic lens will seek to lay bare the workings of a character’s mind, and through that, our own. Queer theory may examine the way various characters are “Othered” in the text, particularly as it concerns sex and sexuality.

For this essay, we will read, research, and discuss the short story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. In writing the essay, you will need to choose a particular focus in the story and a lens (Feminist, Psychoanalytic, Marxist, Queer, etc.) through which to analyze it. Like last time, we will research in class to help illustrate more of that process.

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