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You know what they say. When you ASSuME...

In their essay, "The Yellow Wallpaper," Gilbert and Gubar mention the "anxiety-inducing connections between what women writers tend to see as their parallel confinements in texts, houses, and maternal female bodies" and argue that "Charlotte Perkins Gilman brought them all together in 1890 in a striking story of female confinement and escape, a paradigmatic tale which (like Jane Eyre) seems to tell the story that all literary women would tell if they could speak their 'speechless woe'" (Keesey 262).

While reading Gilbert and Gubar's essay on female authored literature, I was slightly offended. As Greta states in her blog, I don't think you can judge a person's writing solely on their sex. Moreover, while their argument had a clearly feminist undertone, I thought their claims ultimately devalue female authors. To argue that all women writers would strive to tell "the story" that Gilman tells in order to convey their "speechless woes" is a very large assumption. I think women have other goals in mind, and that their literary goals are not solely run by their identity as woment. Yes, while conveying the particular woe that women were underrated in literary and other fields during the 19th century was important to most authors then, I think that we have progressed since then. Even if women do not have full equality with men today, I think we are on even enough footing to focus on things other than our social status as a group.

Furthermore, Gilbert and Gubar's argument seemed to reinforce the very thing they argued against: female restriction. Their argument seems to restrict women authors to the same sentiment, and, furthermore, argues that these women authors can only have written about this single sentiment of feeling restricted as a woman in society. Thus, their argument seems to devalue and take away from some of the universality of some of our most cherished authors, such as Dickinson, when they argue that her work deals with death only because she felt dead as a woman trapped in society.

Overall, they seem to embrace the negative painting of women as objects and latch onto this idea naming it as the cause of all female literature. They argue that such female authors would rather escape their own "loathsome bodies."

In general, this article offended me because it paints feminine roles, such as motherhood, as a negative aspect of a woman's life. Gilbert and Gubar seem to assume that all female authors would share this dislike for their own anatomical purpose. They even claim that the narrator is "evidently suffering from postpartum psychosis" (262). I don't think this is an "evident" fact within "The Yellow Wallpaper," but, rather, an assumption that fits their critical aim...just one of many assumptions they seem to make.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 3, 2009 12:01 AM.

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