Bac File The Imaginary .pdf
Literary analysis online
March 10th , 2014
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Short story called The Yellow Wallpaper
> plot: a woman is ‘trapped’ inside her house because her husband diagnosed her as ‘depressed’. So she can’t write or read or think. She starts seeing things on her wallpaper.
On the image :
she is alone / We can’t see her face / she looks sad / depressed
there’s the wallpaper.
She looks like she is floating on the wall paper.
The wallpaper has a repeated pattern.
We find repetition and leitmotivs / patterns / anaphora in literature.
The wallpaper is a metaphor for her depression / oppression and
also the way she writes about it.
‘I’ narrative > récit à la première personne + her ‘eye’ > her personal way of writing about herself.
Form = contents
Women in the 19th century = didn’t have the right to vote.
They had to stay in the private sphere / have kids and cook.
They were considered as kids, they were dependent on men, tied in corsets, they couldn’t get a divorce.
This story is also a metaphor for the status of women in a Puritan society.
She is trapped in front of the wallpaper just like she would be behind bars in a prison.
Suffragettes > beg. of 20th century
strength: la force
sprawling: s’étendre, ramper
repelling: répugnant / repoussant
ghostliness: aspect fantômatique
Signs of strangeness/ madness / insanity /
what is ‘queer’ in this text?
The setting :
l.1 To stay within ‘ancestral halls’ in the Summer.
l.3 I would say ‘haunted house’
> Gothic feature/pattern.
is strange but the description
of the house triggers our curiosity.
– We know that her brother and her husband are physicians.
We can notice the lexical field of science / chemicals / drugs throughout the text.
So we feel like she is using the vocabulary of men who keep her inside.
She is playing with it. She manipulates it and creates a poetical pattern with it.
She manages to be as poetic as she is political.
She uses the very names of the drugs that drive her crazy to describe her condition.
She uses the vocabulary of those who drive her / see her as crazy.
Signs of entrapment
how many boxes / prisons? Where?
Different levels of entrapment > house > nursery > bedroom > inside herself
Garden > l.36 box-bordered path.
Golden cage > yellow > ‘sickly sulphur tint’
Pathetic fallacy > paysage intérieur
The attribution of human emotions or characteristics to inanimate objects or to nature; for example, angry clouds; a cruel wind.
When your environment / landscape mirrors your mental state.
Literary techniques that show how obsessive or confused she is.
An ASIDE ( ‘aparte’) > instance of personal comment on the writing process. (l. 12.)
Anaphora in appearance > with a small variation ‘airy’ > ‘air’
Personification > the curves … commit suicide / destroy
> violence created by the wallpaper could be a self-inflicted violence.
> mise en abîme
> Oxymoron ‘artistic sin’
There are HINTS OF IRONY throughout the text too. “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction.”
Clearly if her husband was so loving he would probably be less oppressive.