Not Completely Convinced

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"When 'The Yellow Wallpaper' was published she sent it to Weir Mitchell, whose strictures had kept her from attempting the pen during her own breakdown, thereby aggravating her illness, and she was delighted to learn, years later, that 'he had changed his treatment of nervous prostration since reading' her story" (Gilbert and Gubar 263).

"'The Yellow Wallpaper', which Gilman herself called 'a description of a case of nervous breakdown', recounts in the first person the experiences of a woman who is evidently suffering from a severe postpartum psychosis" (Gilbert and Gubar 262).

I happened to pick out one of the same quotes as Angela, but I had a different take on mine. Althought there was a lot of information in this article talking about the different writings styles between the genders, I noticed there was a lot of different approaches that Gilbert and Gubar took towards interpreting "The Yellow Wallpaper". First of all, they used Gilman's own claim on the story to determine what the theme of the short story was (we learned earlier that this doesn't always work because an author's personal intent will change over time and may not acutally cause the result that they intended). Another thing I noticed was the use of historical background which was shown by the first quote I have listed above. I thought both of these approaches had an interesting effect on the outcomes of Gilbert's and Gubar's determination of Gilman's intent.

On the actual discussion of gender in writing, I have to agree with Greta on this one. I don't think you can make the assumption that there are certain writing styles between male and female writers only because of their gender. Yes, there can be differences, but I don't know that there always can be definate differences based only on gender. Most of us kind of had a disucssion on gender recently when we read Stephen King's Carrie  in our Literature for Young Adults class. King was able to pull off writing about a young girl who in a sense was trapped in the torment of her community. If male authors can write from the view points of females and women write from the view points of males, then I don't think claims such as the one listed below can be made: "Women authors, however, reflect the literal reality of their own confinement in the constraints they depict, and so all at least begin with the same unconscious or conscious purpose in employing such spatial imagery" (Gilber and Gubar 261).




Sue said:

I agree with you, but I have a question, how do authors who wrote as male pen names play into this? I'm really surprised that there isn't any mimetic or psychological look into this.

Greta Carroll said:

Katie, I really liked your blog entry. You did a really good job going through and pointing out the different types of criticism that Gilbert and Gubar used. I totally agree with everything that you say. I think that Gilbert and Gubar were putting way to much weight on people being men or women. I felt like they were really devaluing a lot of literature simply because they seem to think that men cannot create the same type of entrapment as women can, since women are/were truly trapped and men are not. I don’t think that one can really claim this. Just because women were historically denied certain rights, does not mean that no men were trapped. They used Poe as example at one point to say how different Gilman’s work was from his; however, I remarked while I was reading “The Yellow Wallpaper” how similar their styles were. I think Poe was trapped in many ways, his lost many of the people he really loved to consumption, he battled with poverty frequently, and was trapped in a pattern of obsessive alcoholism. I think he could certainly portray a crazy person who feels trapped very well and don’t really think that his characters are so different than Gilman’s.

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