Perkins Gilman, “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper”

The article, “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman first appeared in the October 1913 issue of The Forerunner.

The Forerunner was a monthly magazine that Charlotte Perkins Gilman started in November 1909 that she would write and edit for the next seven years. The mission of the Forerunner was to “stimulate thought; to arouse hope, courage and impatience,” and “express ideas which need a special medium.” Which is one of the main reasons why “The Yellow Wallpaper” appeared in the magazine; to really make people think about the roles in society. The Yellow Wallpaper was her way of bringing women’s oppression to light by using medicine. In Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper she says her goal in writing the short story was to prevent other people from going crazy. But what I think she really meant was to keep people from going crazy under oppressive restrictions. She wanted to change this oppressive mindset whether it was in medicine or family roles.

yellow wallpaper

via Perkins Gilman, “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper”.

Academic Article 2 on “The Tell-Tale Heart”

A Feminist Rereading of Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Gita Rajan

The author argues that a gender-marked rereading of the Tell-Tale Hear reveals the narrator’s exploration of her female situation in a particular feminist discourse. By Positing a female narrator, the author proposes to dislodge the earlier, patriarchal notion of a male narrator for the story.

A Feminist Rereading on Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Rajan, Gita. “A Feminist Rereading Of Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’.” Papers On Language & Literature 24.3 (1988): 283. Academic Search Elite. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.

via Academic Article 2.

Academic Article 1 on “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Ego-Evil and “The Tell-Tale Heart” by: Magdalen Wing-chi Ki

The Focus is on the Eye

This article suggests that in The Tell-Tale the old man’s eye is a symbol of Ego-Evil. That is, that the ego sees and judges the other subjectively but the other has the “power to look back and topple the ego, while the other-in-the-self can further derail the self.” Ego-evil is about the self’s “over identification with its views and interests” which leads to a narcissistic qualities.

The author shows  this through…

  • Biblical essence
  • Focus on the “eye” and “I”

He claims that there are two different stages of Ego-Evil throughout the story as the narrator describes himself through the narcissistic eye, the malicious glare, and the enigmatic gaze of the other:

  1. The eye’s “supercilious self-empowerment”
  2. The way of the eye
    1. always on the side of the Subject and its narcissistic fantasy

Ego-Evil and “The Tell-Tale Heart”

Wing-chi Ki, Magdalen. “Ego-Evil And “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Renascence 61.1 (2008): 25-38. Academic Search Elite. Web. 29 Oct. 2014.

via Academic Article 1.

Portfolio 4


In my blog, John Henry (Folklore Character) I went into a lot of detail  about John Henry and did outside research to learn about Joe Louis and make comparison between the two and drawing a lot of connections. I then moved on to two different versions of a “John Henry” ballad and compared the text in the two. But what I really gathered is that the ballad conforms to whatever role different groups in society need it to take on. There were also two of Dickinson’s poems that I went very in depth about in my blog, Dickinson, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes” and Dickinson, “This World is not Conclusion.” Essentially what I did was go through the poem and break it up into stanzas then draw different conclusions and inferences in each stanza until I was done then I connected everything that I gathered and made a claim. Another one of my posts that I feel I went very in depth on is Poe, “The Black Cat” (story). This is one of my lengthier blog posts but to me every line was significant. Here I compared “The Black Cat” to “The Tell-Tale Heart” and used textual evidence to support my comparisons. I broke up both stories by beginning, middle, and end and then drew an inference based on the similarities I saw between the two stories. In one of my more recent posts, Perkins Gilman, “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper,” I used outside research and a cartoon interpretation to go into depth about the reasons why “The Yellow Wallpaper” was written.


Timeliness is one area that I still struggle with sometimes but I have gotten a lot better. I found myself posting blogs ahead of time if I didn’t think I would have enough time to get it done and then coming back to them to add more or fix them to make them better quality. I did this is with Academic Article 1 on “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Academic Article 2 on “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and Poe, “The Valley of Unrest.” There were also times where I posted early, for instance with Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Bierce, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” This improvement subsequently caused an improvement in my Discussions category. Also too, there were two class activities, Class Activity: Evidence-based Reflection and Post-colonialism Disabilities, that I was absent for because of soccer games but I still made sure to get them done in a timely manner.


I have also seen an improvement with my riskiness as I continue to become more and more comfortable close reading and blogging. For instance in my blog post, Poe, “The Valley of Unrest,” I suggested that the flowers that Poe talks about in the valley symbolize rebirth and new beginnings. I could’ve been entirely wrong about that interpretation but I was willing to take the the chance. I also did this with Poe, “The Raven” when I made the claim that the core concept is about humanities need for self-torture and finding meaning in the meaningless. Also too with Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death” when I made inferences about the room layout from east to west (the sun rises east and sets in the west) symbolizing birth to death (which starts with the first room and ends in the black room). Another risk I took was comparing Poe, “Annabel Lee” to the movie Shrek and making it seem like the poem is a twisted version of a typical fairytale.


I had several very good discussions this time around. On my post Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” there was a good conversation between Julie, Jade, and myself about the ending of “The Yellow Wallpaper.” There were several good questions asked on my posts Poe, “The Tell-tale Heart,” Bierce, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” and Poe, “The Masque of the Red Death” that I responded too. I also responded to a question that Danielle asked in her post  “The Masque of the Red Death” and in her other post “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” however in this one there was a pretty good discussion between Danielle, Sean, and myself concerning the topic.


This time I focused a lot more on my intertextuality because I knew it was something I needed to improve on and I definitely saw the result I was looking for as I was putting this portfolio together. For example in my posts Post-colonialism Disabilities and Poe, “Hop-Frog” (story) I incorporated a video clip and a comic strip to better help me and my peers understand the point I was trying to make and the story. I struggled with understand “Hop-Frog” at first so I searched around on the web which is when I came across the comic strip. It helped me understand the story a lot better and I felt it was an enjoyable tool that my peers could enjoy too. I also put media in my posts Poe, “The Tell-tale Heart” and Poe, “Annabel Lee.” In Poe, “The Black Cat” I drew on one of my other posts to make connections between the two stories and incorporated a lot of textual evidence.


John Henry (Music Analysis) was a blog post that I honestly had no idea what to talk about. I originally created the post with just a few sentences in it so that I could submit it on time. I then later went back to think about it more and add more to the post. I also did a similar thing with three of my other posts, Dickinson, “It Was Not Death, For I Stood Up,” Dickinson, “The Only Ghost I Ever Saw,” and Dickinson, “I Felt a Funeral in My Brain.”


Overall I think I have improved a lot with depth, timeliness, discussion and intertextuality. I have come a long way from where I have started and I feel a lot more comfortable tackling difficult readings especially poems. This is why I feel that my depth has gotten a lot better. In the blog post Class Activity: Evidence-based Reflection I compared where I started and where I am now and there is no doubt in my mind that I haven’t grown a lot in my ability to read, understand, and make inferences and claims of my own without the assistance of outside sources. There are still times where I get stuck and I reference an outside source but that is not very often anymore but it does show me that I still have room to grow and continue to improve. Another thing that I need to improve on is coming up with more thoughtful comments to post on my peers’ blogs. I am good at answering questions on their posts but it is still difficult for me to come up with quality questions or statements without them provoking my thought process with a question.  My Oral Interpretation on “The Raven” also shows how I have grown with my ability to interpret what I am reading and able to make inferences. For the upcoming posts I will focus more closely on continuing to develop my intertextuality and discussion skills. There is also room for me to keep taking more risks.

Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”

What I found interesting is the way that the narrator’s husband coddles her and treats her more like an infant than anything. The bedroom he even has her take is a nursery. She is hardly allowed to do anything besides eat, breathe and sleep.  She makes an effort to point this out as often as possible but she doesn’t do it with a tone of malice until the end where she begins to completely go insane. Pretty much every other line the narrator is talking about something that her husband, John, won’t let her do.

To be honest I don’t quite understand the ending. Is the narrator really free and liberated? Is her mind free or has her “condition” been freed from inside herself for her husband to observe? But why did her husband faint?

via Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”.

Class Activity: Evidence-based Reflection

At the beginning of the year I struggled doing literary close readings because I had to switch my mentality. I guess my habit was to use high school tools and look for common things so breaking from this habit was difficult. And that wasn’t so much because it was new to me but mostly because I couldn’t grasp what a literary close reading was. It’s a vague concept. I just couldn’t understand what I was supposed to be doing differently and so my close readings at first were kind of rough and unpolished.  But I realized now that the thing about close readings is there never is a set guideline as to what you’re supposed to be looking for. The beauty of it is your ability to go through a literary piece and take underlying parts in order to create a substantial piece on a singular element.

For example, in my blog post from the beginning of the year Dickinson, “I Never hear the word ‘escape'” it was a short post and there really wasn’t much depth to it.  Compared to one of my more recent Dickinson posts,  “After great pain, a formal feeling comes-“ where I showed my breakdown but then also focused in on the different human elements stated in the poem and gathered why she uses body parts to personify the feeling of losing someone. Just looking at my posts you can tell that there a huge difference between the two. I have definitely developed a lot since the start of the class, especially with poetry.


via Class Activity: Evidence-based Reflection.

John Henry (Music Analyis)

With Dickinson’s poetry it was slightly altered after she died but it’s not altered now so we interpret her words to find the meaning.


With John Henry we are able to interpret the meaning by changing the story. There is no set in stone ballad of the right words for John Henry. We’re able to interpret the meaning and change the words to form around what we think.

via John Henry (Music Analyis).

John Henry (Folklore Character)

Joe Louis…. cough cough, John Henry, cough


The legendary tale of John Henry is one of the most famous American tall-tales. Typically his story is told through two different types of songs: ballads and work songs (also known as hammer songs) and each song has its own varying lyrics. There is no doubt that the story of John Henry symbolizes physical strength, dignity, racial pride, and endurance but the main question that remains is whether this tale actually happened or not. Many historians try to find resources to prove that it’s true but I think the most important thing is to remember that even if it didn’t happen it still inspired many people and their true stories. The image of John Henry has served so many times as a motivator and symbol in society. In the NPR Radio Coverage the narrator compares John Henry to Joe Louis or better known as the “brown bomber.” “His strength, his heroic rise from common origins, his character within the ring, and his conduct outside it mirror the traits associated with John Henry.” Even if John Henry did not actually exist the story was true through Joe Louis. This is why the tale is so important; because it taught society social tolerance and diversity even during hard times like during World War II. Both men actually served as symbolic images during World War II as anti-nazi sentiment. John Henry taught Joe Louis how to be selfless, inspiring, and hardworking even in the face of adversity. Both were African American nation-wide heroes that inspired the lives of many and still continue to. No matter what the truth is about John Henry’s existence, his legend will never die.


Version 1: “John Henry” – A Construction Crew Version of the Ballad was gathered by Leon R. Harris in 1909 while he was working on building the Birmingham Power Company’s plant in Birmingham, Alabama. The text of the ballad has an old southern ring to it. While reading it it reminded me of the Uncle Remus stories because of all of the abbreviated words and the southern dialect. The ballad is definitely a lot easier to read than the Uncle Remus stories but there were still words that I had to say out loud to myself in order to figure out what it meant. For example one of the hardest verses for me to understand was, “Cap’n, bet yo’ las’ red cent on me, Fo’ I’ll beat it to th’ bottom or I’ll die. Co’n pone’s in my stomach.” I had to of read it three or four times until I caught on. What I also thought was interesting about this ballad is it’s repetitive qualities; at the end of each stanza it repeats “Lawd, — Lawd, –.” This version also makes the point that Henry’s boss is a white man “…the whitest man on earth.” Because of the interpretation and dialect in this version I would infer that the work crew in Birmingham from which this version was gathered was mostly African American and had heard the tale of John Henry since they were little. This version is more speaks to racial pride and equality. The workers want to portray that no man should put themselves above them and the work they do. Nothing and no one can replace them. Whereas  another version of, “John Henry”- Prison Crew Version of the Ballad  (third variation), was submitted by Edward Douglas whose address was given as the Ohio State Penitentiary. His version was based on interviews with “a number of Old-Timers of this Penitentiary.” The first difference that I noted in this version is that Henry challenges the machine for money rather than pride like in the other version. In this one he does is out of desperation and need, he understands it’s a foolish thing to do he even states that he is aware that he could “…hammer [his] fool self to death,” before he even begins the race. The reason this stuck out to me is because like many people in prison, they are aware that their actions are wrong before they do them but many times they do them anyway because they feel it’s what they must do and that they don’t have a choice even if it means consequences in the end; Henry’s punishment was his death. In this version it seems that John Henry looks at the race this way too.

No matter what the situation is, the tale of John Henry seems to conform to the role that society needs to keep moving forward in society. Whether is for a construction crew or prisoners, John Henry finds a way of inspiring every man and encourages him to be strong even during challenges and adversity.

via John Henry (Folklore Character).

Dickinson, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes –“

“After great pain, a formal feeling comes”

Dickinson uses this poem to talk about how someone copes with loss. After something traumatic comes a great expanse of feelings and emotions. This poem talks about great pain and how it completely and totally messes someone up.

Stanza 1:  After something traumatic happens we feel numb and the typical proceedings of a funeral go on, leaving us to feel formal. Sitting through the processions, feeling nervous about our emotions once everything sinks in. But for now all we feel is numbness as we try to take everything in.

“After great pain, a formal feeling comes- 

The Nerves sit ceremonious like Tombs-“

The numb heart of the person suffering and dealing with the loss asks whether it was he who bore the ‘great pain.’ However, who exactly is ‘He’ referring to? Perhaps it’s the person that has passed away, or maybe its the person that possesses the numb heart. Did this person this person that suffered the ‘great pain’ feel it yesterday (perhaps the day of passing)? Or did he feel this suffering a long time before passing? Maybe the person that died has been suffering from a disease for a long time and knew that an early death was inevitable and therefor they suffered from the pain of loss a long time before actually passing away.

“The stiff Heart questions ‘was it He, that bore,’

And ‘Yesterday, or Centuries before’?”

Stanza 2: After experiencing loss we try to cope but we’re still numb. We walk around like zombies. Our movements every day are ‘mechanical,’ rehearsed, and very programmed. We don’t care what we are doing or where we are going just so long as we keep moving. We just go through the motions. Whether these motions are being done on the ‘ground’ or in the ‘air’ we really do not care. We are still numb from the loss, just trying to get through every day life as it goes by. Unfeeling.

“The Feet, mechanical, go round-

A Wooden way

Of Ground, or Air, or Ought-“

We continue to go through our daily routines without regard as to what we are doing. Since we don’t really care our resolve is to carry on, shuffling through heavily like a stone and the thing is, we are content with this. Our numbing blindness weighs us down so heavily that we drag ourselves through the blurry haze of daily routines.

“Regardless grown,

A Quartz contentment, like a stone-“

Stanza 3: The time right after loss is when we feel the heaviest. It is the hardest part about losing someone. But, it is just that, a singular component of coping. This ‘hour’ passes and we move forward only to look back on the time of difficulty; if and only if we survive it. This is the hour at which we can’t move forward with our life. However, surviving this troubled period is not guaranteed and only after surviving it can we look back upon it and realize is was just a part of time; but a hard one at that.

“This is the Hour of Lead-

Remembered, if outlived,”

If we live through it to remember it, then remembering it will be like a person who freezes to death remembering the snow that he died in. How does one remember what killed him? The snow is what caused the person to feel numb just as death is what caused the person experiencing loss to feel numb. When we look back on loss we remember the death and how it froze us out from the world emotionally. First comes the realization of loss, then comes the numbness and loss of focus, then once surviving, if surviving it, we move on and are able to let go of the all-consuming and numbing pain.

“As Freezing persons, recollect the Snow-

First- Chill- then Stupor- then the letting go-“

Overall: In this poem about death and the numbing feeling of loss Dickinson uses personification to emphasize the begrudging qualities it bestows upon us. Each time the personification is about a body part. Line 2; “The Nerves sit ceremonious,” Line 3; “The stiff Heart,” and Line 4; “The Feet, mechanical.” Each of the references to a body part are capitalized, drawing the readers attention to them. Going through the poem we can gather that after going through something traumatic the Nerves are numb, the Heart is confused, and the Feet just of through the motions unfeeling.

via Dickinson, “After great pain, a formal feeling comes –“.

Dickinson, “This World is not Conclusion”

This World is not Conclusion

Dickinson tells us that there is more than this world and life that we know. We can’t draw on death as a conclusion because there really is not true conclusion at all. We can try to prove it as much as we want but really it comes down to believing. All of our insistent searching has lead to questions rather than answers.

Breakdown lines 1-4:

This earthly world is not the end, there is more out there to this scheme. There is no doubt that more lies beyond our earthy boundaries.

“This world is not Conclusion.”

There are otherworldly figures out there. We cannot see them or hear them but but are sure that they exist. Even though we may not be see/hear them there are too many reasons to deny their existence.

“A Species stands beyond- 

Invisible, as Music-

But positive, as Sound-“

Breakdown lines 5-8:

This world beyond our draws us in to question it and know more. But, there is only so much that we can know and most of this ‘knowledge’ cannot be proven. Therefor this world other than our own puzzles us. We seek for answers, definitive ones but we cannot find them in our earthly form. Philosophies can clue us in but they still don’t know for sure, they just help lead our minds and questions in the right direction.

“It beckons, and it baffles-

Philosophy- don’t know-“

Ultimately the only way to find out the answer to this riddle is after death. Through death we find out truly what lies beyond our world. We only become wise and (sagacious) knowledgeable after death when we pass over into the next realm.

“And through a Riddle, at the last-

Sagacity, must go-“

Breakdown lines 9-12:

Scholars try to figure out the truth, whether it’s to prove or disprove it, yet they never can. They always stumble, never able to find the answers they seek.

“To guess, it puzzles scholars-“

Year after year and generation after generation men bear ‘contempt’ for this knowledge. They all struggle for it only to find it always eluding them. These seekers bear it with scorn and even crucifixion to gain what seem to be the prize that beckons.

“To gain it, Men have borne

Contempt of Generations

And Crucifixion, shown-“

Breakdown lines 13-16:

When their is doubt and uncertainty we gather ourselves, laugh it off and move forward with our faith. Embarrassed only for a moment that we doubted but we don’t admit this.

“Faith slips- and laughs, and rallies-

Blushes, if any see-“

Instead we try to pull from the smallest amount of evidence that exists to reassure ourselves that in fact He does exist. We forgive ourselves our travesties and ask for Him to guide us in the right direction in much of the same way that a ‘vane’ is directed and guided by wind.

“Plucks at a twig of Evidence-

And asks a Vane, the way-“

Breakdown lines 17-20:

We receive most of our direction from the church and the clergy; instructing us how to live by faith and what is ‘true.’ We accept true and continue to walk in faith and believe.

“Much Gesture, from the Pulpit-

Strong Hallelujahs roll-“

However, all of this reassurance cannot completely settle the doubt that we feel inside and question. These questions will eat away at us until the day we meet death and have the chance to finally solve the great riddle ourselves.

“Narcotics cannot still the Tooth 

That nibbles at the soul-“

via Dickinson, “This World is not Conclusion”.