Feminism in 19th Century
Noted scholar, Rula Quawas, in her article “A New Woman’s Journey Into Insanity: Descent and Return in “The Yellow Wallpaper”” refines our understanding of the “private sphere” through her discussion of the 19th century ideal of the “cult of true womanhood and domesticity.” In the stories included in our text, Gilman rejects that ideal and constructs another.
Choose three stories (including “The Yellow Wallpaper”) and identify how Gilman rejects the concept and offers a different ideal for 19th century women.
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THEN…focusing only on the story “The Yellow Wallpaper,” expand your discussion to include Gilman’s refutation of Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell’s “rest cure.” In his article “Reading the Rest Cure,” Michael Blackie states “To be sure, Mitchell and his followers deployed his treatment to restore Victorian notions of femininity in women whose nervous disorder signified its loss, or worse, perversion.” Discuss your thoughts on whether those who construct and control societal norms (those in the “public sphere”) should exert the power to influence the lives of those who reject those ideals. Link your discussion to Gilman’s exploration of the same questions in “The Yellow Wallpaper.