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Lecture 2

ENG 110 Lecture 2: Short Story Notes.docx


Department
English
Course Code
ENG 110
Professor
M.G.Osachoff
Lecture
2

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“Yellow Wallpaper”
1. Who is the narrator? What is the nature and cause of her problems? What is the
solution?
-She is a wife and a mother
-she has a nervous, anxious problem
-she is not where she is by choice
-she likes to write, she is imaginative; is not allowed to as part of her “solution”
-likely that she could have post-partum depression since she just gave birth
-give her medication and tell her to get lots of rest even
-they don't completely believe that she is sick
-don't allow her to talk about her problems
-contradictory that he would say she is not sick yet describe her medication
2. What do we know about the marriage of John and the narrator? Is John the villain of
the story?
-She says that he is careful and loving and tries to care for her in his own way (p.29)
-he is trying to help her but does not completely know how
-since he was a doctor he was considered very smart and powerful and knowing
-he calls her “little goose” and “child,” names that infantilize her
-how he treats her is infantilizing as well
-to her he seems like a villain but he is only acting as a part of society that has forced
its beliefs and values onto him
-John is only a villain if you look at all doctors or all men at that time as villains
-John is simply a product of the society they live in
3. What details of the physical environment have symbolic significance?
-Since the room used to be a nursery it can be symbolic of how John treats her like a
child
-wallpaper is patterned and she feels trapped within this pattern, the pattern of society
and of the insignificance of women
-windows are representative of society as well because she can see what is going on
outside of her confines but she is unable to participate
-bars on the windows make her feel locked up inside and as if there is no escape
-the bed is chained to the floor, she has no control over any aspect of the room, she
cannot even move the bed
4. What are the possible interpretations of the ending?
-The person who has “got out” is her repressed self and she feels she has lessened her
feelings of repression
-even though she is crawling like a child she is able to crawl over him, he is in her
way but she is able to overcome it
5. What are the advantages and disadvantages of telling this story in this particular way?
In what other way could this story be told?
-Unreliable narrator
-John is still somewhat censoring her
-gives us a personal side beneath the craziness and makes the reader more
sympathetic to the narrator
-interior view to what it is like to be mentally disturbed
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