Literary approaches to The Yellow Wallpaper
Issue of control (John’s control over his wife as both husband and doctor) and
then how that control shifts by the end of the story
Social issues (also under Historical): gender roles (woman’s passivity,
relegation to the house and its interior, writing)
Escape to freedom, need for autonomy. Contrast between freedom and
Male attitude towards women, interrogating John.
History of the Test Cure, Wier Mitchell and contemporary medicine’s attitude
towards women (Elaine Showalter, FEMALE MALADY (19th century term for
depression, post partum depression not recognized yet)
How is mental illness portrayed?
How is this an accurate, useful description of the descent into madness, t he
process of going mad?
How does this story employ and reveal the idea of the unconscious, especially
considering that Freud didn’t start to publish until 1900? What is the definition of
sanity in this story? Who is sane? Is the narrator sane or insane? (R.D. Laing
began to ask if society y is insane, is it sane to go along?)
How does this story involve archetypes of images of women such as the
“madwoman in the attic.” How does it fit into the tradition of women’s literature?
How does this story compare/contrast with those of Poe? How does it fit into the
tradition of “gothic” horror stories?