GILBERT GUBAR YELLOW WALLPAPER
Yet the feminist project involved, as Gayle Greene and CoppClia Kahn have put it, not only “deconstructing dominant male patterns of thought and social practice” but also “reconstructing female ex- perience previously hidden or overlooked. If, however, we acknowledge the participation of women writers and readers in “dominant. Gilman, personal correspondence, cited in Scharnhorst, It is, I believe, this powerful theoretical achievement occasioned by “The Yellow Wallpaper” that has led so much critical writing on the story to a triumphant conclusion despite the narrator’s own unhappy fate. When I began to imagine political implications for the color “yellow” in the story, I thought the text might be reflecting unconscious anxieties, but I did not ex- pect to find overt evidence of racism in Gilman’s writings.
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I conclude from my analysis, though her creativity is curbed, the woman makes the wall paper a means to imagine her freedom and eventually combats a cruel reality, while regaining her liberty.
In an 11 Oct. Gilman, personal correspondence, cited in Scharnhorst, I want to go further still and suggest that feminist criticism’s own persistent return to the “Wallpaper” -indeed, to specific aspects of the “Wallpaper” signifies a somewhat uncomfortable need to isolate and validate a particular female experience, a particular relationship between reader and writer, and a particular notion of subjectivity as bases for the writing and reading of women’s texts.
And if the narrator, having liberated the paper woman, can only imagine tying her up again, is it possible that our reading too has freed us momentarily only to bind us once more? Cleis Press, The text of Gilrnan’s imagining, then, is the text of an America made as uninhabitable as the narrator’s chamber, and her declara- tion that “children ought to grow up in the country, all of themIM55 recalls the narrator’s relief that her baby does not have to live in the unhappy prison at the top of the house.
Gayle Greene and Coppelia Kahn London: How can I fail to love your clarity and fury how can I give you all your due take courage from your courage honor your exact legacy as it is recognizing as well that it is not enough?
But Gilman’s story is not simply one to which feminists have “applied ourselves; it is one of the texts through which white, American academic feminist criticism has constituted its terms. That a hard look at feminism’s ‘Yellow Wallpaper” is now possible is already evident by the publication in of separate essays by Janice Haney-Peritz and Mary Jacobus which use psychoanalytic theory to expose the limits of both the narrator’s and feminist criticism’s interpretive acts.
Furthermore, the premise that “we engage not texts but para- digrnsfUl6as Kolodny puts it in another essay, explodes the belief that we are reading what is “there. Similar, often briefer readings abound.
The Yellow Wallpaper | Criticism
Alicia Partnoy, The Little School: There is even a centrifugal pattern in which “the inter- minable golbert seem to form around a common centre and rush off in headlong plunges of equal distraction” p.
Gilman, Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, 1. In the service of the first, we. When it ceases to be by yielding to external pressures, it abdicates its primarily reponsibility as a monitor and conservator of taste.
The Yellow Wallpaper | Criticism |
See, for example, Gilman, “My Ancestors,” Downloading text is forbidden on this website. Infor example, Barbara Smith identified racism in some of the writings on which feminist criticism had been founded; inAlice Walker told the National Women’s Studies Associa- tion of her inability to convince the author of The Female Imagina- tion to consider the imaginations of women who are Black; inJudy Grahn noted the “scathing letters” the Women’s Press Collective received when it published Sharon Isabell’s Yesterday’s Lessons without standardizing the English for a middle-class readership; at the Modern Language Association meetings and later in Signs, Adrienne Rich pointed to the erasure of lesbian identity from feminist classrooms even when the writers being taught were in fact lesbians; in the early s, collections like This Bridge Called My Back: With Her in Ourland, in Forerunner 7 June Gilbert and Gubar, Since the beginning of the stay in a newly rented summer mansion, the narrator establishes a strong negativity towards the wallpaper.
When she travels one summer to coastal Maine, she “could have hugged the gaunt New England farmers and fishermen-I had forgotten what my people looked like! This also means that the conscious biographical tilbert which Gilman claims as the authen- ticating source of the story is but one contributing element.
Gilman, The Man-Made World, Praeger, This may be interpreted as the intense struggle enhanced gllbert night gubae, the time when the narrator has to spend with her husband.
Weir Mitchell to alter his practices suggests that like Van, the sociologist-narrator of two of Gilman’s feminist utopias, educated, white Protestant men could be taught to change. Ultimately I think the narrator starts recognizing herself behind that pattern. For Hedges and for Gilbert and Gubar, the wallpaper signifies the oppressive situation in which the woman finds herself; for Kolodny the paper is the narrator’s “own psyche writ large”; for Treichler it is a paradigm of women’s writing; and for Fetterley it is the husband’s patriarchal text which, however, becomes increasingly feminine in form.
Temple University Press, Forbidden to write, the narrator- protagonist becomes obsessed with the room’s wallpaper, which she finds first repellent and then riveting; on its chaotic surface she eventually deciphers an imprisoned woman whom she at- tempts to liberate by peeling the paper off the wall. If our traditional gesture has been to repeat the narrator’s own act of underreading, of seeing too little, I want now to risk overreading, seeing perhaps too much.