Please choose ONE question and write a minimum 350-word response to it (you may write as many words as you wish, but you must write at least 350). You may choose ANY question, but be sure to indicate the number of the question you choose. Please discuss fully in short essay format.
Discuss the mansion the couple is staying in. What is its history? What is the narrator’s initial feeling about the house? What about her particular room? “It was nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge, for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls.” What inferences can you make about the narrator’s status from the described setting and imagery say? What insight does her description of the house and the room give you?
Give a description of John. Why does the heroine say that his profession is “perhaps. . . one reason I do not get well faster”? How does the narrator view her husband? Does she agree with John’s diagnosis and treatment? Who else supports John’s diagnosis? What effect does this have on the heroine? How does the narrator try to reach out to her husband? What is his reaction? Is this her last contact with sanity? Do you think John really has no comprehension of the seriousness of her illness?
How would you characterize the narrator’s initial reaction to, and description of, the wallpaper? Who does the narrator see in the wallpaper? What changes does she recognize in the wallpaper? Describe the wallpaper and its many different states. What is different about the wallpaper between night and day, between when she first sees it and when we leave her at the end of the story?
Describe the narrator’s state after the first two weeks of residence. Has John’s relationship with his wife changed at all? What clues does Gilman give us about the education of the narrator and her increasingly agitated state? Is she finding it more and more difficult to communicate? Identify what has driven the narrator to the brink of madness. How does she try to free herself from this element? What is her greatest desire? What is the central irony of the story?
Discuss the theme or themes of this story. Does the ending of the story suggest progress (a woman tears down the shackles that are binding her) or pessimism (this woman has become completely unstable)? Or is it delivering a different type of message? How should we read this story?
What are some of the problems with reading “The Yellow Wallpaper” as a feminist text? For instance, does the narrator speak for all women? Could the men in the story also be understood as repressed individuals?
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