“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)

“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)
EQ: What does Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story "The Yellow Wall-paper" suggest about middleclass women's place and role(s) in society?
Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story "The Yellow Wall-paper" was written during a time of great
change. In the early- to mid-nineteenth century, "domestic ideology" positioned American middle
class women as the spiritual and moral leaders of their home. Such "separate spheres" ideals
suggested that a woman's place was in the private domain of the home, where she should carry
out her prescribed roles of wife and mother. Men, on the other hand, would rule the public
domain through work, politics, and economics. By the middle of the century, this way of thinking
began to change as the seeds of early women's rights were planted. By the end of the 1800s,
feminists were gaining momentum in favor of change. The concept of "The New Woman," for
example, began to circulate in the 1890s-1910s as women pushed for broader roles outside their
home-roles that could draw on women's intelligence and non-domestic skills and talents.
Use this chart to take notes on how the narrator describes the world around her. Pay close
attention to her description, noting how her tone and her perception of her surroundings and
situation change throughout the story. (The rows will expand as you type. If you’d like to
handwrite your answers, enlarge the rows before you print.)
How does the author describe
Her room?
The wallpaper?
Her illness?
Her husband?
Her other caretakers and/or
Her journal?
Examples/ descriptions from the
Reader interpretation (possible
symbolic meanings, oddities in
description, etc.)