Faulty Assumptions

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From Gilbert and Gubar’s “’The Yellow Wallpaper’”:

“Imagining himself buried alive in tombs and cellars, Edgar Allan Poe was letting his mind poetically wander into the deepest recesses of his own psyche, but Dickinson, reporting that ‘I do not cross my Father’s ground to any house in town,’ was recording a real, self-willed, self-burial” (260). 

As I discussed in a previous blog entry, on Derek’s blog, and in class, I don’t think that attributing differences in people simply to gender is a very accurate thing to do.  Poe and Dickinson lived very different lives; their differences in writing style could have been caused by innumerable reasons.  It could even partially be because of gender, but that doesn’t been that it is totally because of that.

Also, as Mara pointed out in her blog last week, one cannot just assume that the speaker of a poem or a narrator is the same as the author.  One cannot even assume that the narrator/speaker and the author think and feel the same things.  Authors can create characters and devices which do not necessarily reflect their own feelings.  I felt Gilbert and Gubar’s essay relies almost entirely on unwarranted assumptions.  So it would seem to me that mimetic criticism is not a very strong school.  It also seems like it bleeds into historicism.   

Read more on Gilbert and Gubar’s article.

2 Comments

I understand what you're saying. They're study is like a science experiment that does not take into account the outside factors. It would be like if you were mixing a solution and you spilled water into it and just said, "Oh, well. It's only water." I think that you're exactly correct that they are so different because of environmental factors, however men and women do respond to things differently generally. It would take a lot to support this opinion, however, I think it still has an impact. But, as you said, to critique a piece on these terms specifically would be inaccurate.

Jenna said:

Greta, I agree with you that the experience affects a writer's style more than his/her gender. I felt that a lot of their evidence for their claim to be a stretch. Check out my blog http://blogs.setonhill.edu/JennaMiller/2009/03/cant-we-all-just-write-the-sam.html to see what I mean.

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