Analysis of "The Yellow Wallpaper"

2370 Words Jan 15th, 2012 10 Pages
CHARLOTEE PERKINS GILLMAN
THE YELLOW WALLPAPER (1892)

The cult of true womanhood defined women as “ladies”(pure, diligent). When we talk about American woman, we have to specify their religion, sexual orientation, race, social class (it is therefore essentialist to talk about “women” in general. Depending on the group which they are in, certain coordinates are applicable.
The Yellow Wallpaper is about a white, protestant, heterosexual woman at the end of the 19th century in the higher middle class. Gilman wanted to obtain more freedom and in order to do so, she had to rebel against the most important institution oppressing her: MARRIAGE. (1)
Nowadays, the typical happy family is outdated and doesn’t exist.
Gilman lived at a time
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Bicycles gave women new freedom and so did “bloomers” – a way of giving women more freedom of movement.
Catherine E. Beecher (1842) wrote novels and believed in the cult of true womanhood. She wrote about domestic economy.
Feminism: a) of difference b) of equality
Feminism of DIFFERENCE:
Men and women are not the same (men-public sphere/ women – private sphere). Women are not inferior to men, they can achieve the same thing in different ways. Women are morally superior to men and take control of the house: Beecher´s ideas.
Feminism of EQUALITY:
Men and women should be equal in front of the law: suffrage movement.
Feminism of difference was conservative but stated that women should be educated as their role would influence future generations (children).
“American woman´s home”, “Art of cookery”. Women were taught to be good housewives. The family state and home was a heavenly kingdom on earth. Mothers were supposed to be self-sacrificing (mission: self-denial). Until the end of the 18th century women didn’t exist in terms of sex. Women were “deformed man” (clitoris=small penis, womb=2 aborted balls). Scientific discourse created sex and indoctrinated the world against women´s capacity. If women were “aborted men”, this meant that they would never have the intellectual capacity of men either. In the Yellow Wallpaper, the man is a doctor because they had the capacity to define women. The protagonist is defined by her husband´s scientific

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