Rather than choosing a quote to blog about, I am going to give a general overview of the essay due to my presentation tonight.I would first like to introduce the essay by saying, I felt this was my ahhh haaa moment. It came right on time for my presentation. Anyways here goes the overview:
Feldstein opens the article to giving inconsistencies throughout Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper." He first talks about the discrepancies between whether the story is a short story or a novella (402).
Continuing down the list, he discusses the disagreement in Gilman's name and the proper form. For example, is it Charlotte Perkins, Charlotte Stetson, Charlotte Perkins Stetson, Charlotte Gilman, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, or Charlotte Perkins Stetson Gilman? (402)
Looking closely at the text Feldstein then brings up the confusion of the spelling wallpaper. Throughout Gilman's story, she uses wall-paper, wallpaper, wall paper and paper. The shift in the use of wallpaper is doesn't specifically follow a pattern of logic (402).
In Feldstein's article, he looks at two main issues, "John is the story's antagonist and the narrator/protagonist succumbs to a progressive form of madness," and "If we read 'The Yellow Wall-paper' ironically and not simply as a case history of one woman's mental derangement, the narrator's madness becomes questionable, and the question of madness itself, an issue raised as a means of problematizing such a reading" (402-03).
In his first article, Feldstein says critics agree that John's diagnosis of his wife of "a slight hysterical tendency" imprisons the narrator within the prescription of the cure" and we can all agree that the narrator becomes mad when she stops writing in her journal and finds an obsession in the wallpaper (402).
I really enjoyed that within this argument, feminist critics went against the grain and said that the protagonist cannot be seen as a feminist. If she is a feminist, Karen Ford asks, "why is the narrator tearing it [the wall-paper] down (403).
Feldstein's ironic reading of "The Yellow Wall-Paper" says, the narrator's obsession with the wall-paper represents the regression from a linguistic presentation, the one she would write if John would allow her to 'work'(404). The narrator's "regression becomes purposeful--a cunning craziness...which gains the narrator authority"(404). These two main ideas are discussed and I will look more closely at in my presentation tonight.
A third point that I found significant to the essay was the uncertainty of the protagonist being the writer. Feldstein said that critics and readers have a difficult time distinguishing between the "protagonist who stops writing in her journal and the narrator who produces that journal, which becomes our narrative" (404). Phrases such as "We have been here two weeks, and I haven't felt like writing before, since that day," I am sitting by the window now, up in this atrocious nursery, and there is nothing to hinder my writing as much as I please, save lack of strength," and "I have found out a funny thing, but I shan't tell it this time!" All these examples suppose the confusion of the narrator and the protagonist (405).
I believe that Feldstein wanted us to realize that "We configure our own fictions" and may interpret the story in many different ways(406). Instead of giving an easy answer, Gilman asks each of us to analyze the story and figure out the answers to the questions which Feldstein produces in his essay.
For more info check out Greta, Mara, and Jenna's blogs they did a great job questioning both the text and Feldstein's essay.
Check out the whole class