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Madness of feminism

"Commentators who consider these actions conclusive evidence of madness find it difficult to accept Gilman's protagonist as a feminist, especially since she seems incapable of fending off insidious forms of surveillance." (Feldstein 403)

This quote is speaking of the seemingly "mad" actions of the protagonist throughout The Yellow Wall-paper. Because of these "mad" or insane things that she does she is no longer seen as a credible feminist. But, why can she no longer be seen this way? Wouldn't the circumstances of the time period in which she lived hold her back from "fending off insidious forms of surveillance"? What if her actions are her strength? What if delving into a world of "insanity" is the only way for her to gain an upper hand in her given situation? I realize to some that these may seem like silly questions, but isn't one persons sense of normalcy different from anothers?

We just assume that the protaganist is falling into madness, because of the writing that she leaves behind, but since it is her writing about this particualr situation how reliable is she as a narrator? Should readers be looking deeper into the text for something that may not be satated? And what makes her madness weakness? Perhaps it is the very thing that gives her strength. Perhaps it is the very thing that makes her a stronger person than the one keeping her captive. Perhaps John is the truly weak character, for it is he who faints and can't handle the "mad" actions of his wife.

Comments (2)

Derek Tickle:

Could questions Mara!

Is the narrator writing from her mind or from the madness (sickness)? What makes her so weak could be the emphasize that she places upon the wallpaper. There is a feeling that she becomes OCD with the house and wallpaper, but the story protrays that it is her sickness. It seems that the narrator is getting her energy from John by not telling him what she really feels inside. It is like when your mad and built it up inside without telling anyone. Does the force that she contains inside cause John to faint in the end? There are many questions that can be asked, but the most interesting one, in this case, is what causes her to truly go mad? We may never know...

Bethany Merryman:

Your questions are not silly at all. Honestly I think these are great questions that can challenge the argument of Feldstein and the feminist critics who agree that the narrator cannot be a feminist.

I think that some of your questions can be answered through the second argument which states, "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." In Feldstein's second argument, he looks into the narrator purposely acting mad, which would go along with your idea that she could be a feminist that is in control of her life.

In this ironic reading, we are able to see the opposing view of the quote you blog about. Furthermore, I feel that Feldstein's main objective was to show people that due to ambiguity and inconsistencies, we are able to interpret the fiction to "become our own fictions," which Greta blogs about.

Check out her blog for more info at http://blogs.setonhill.edu/GretaCarroll/2009/04/the_pros_and_the_cons_of_felds.html

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 13, 2009 8:14 AM.

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