Analysis of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's A Yellow Wallpaper, and Eudora Welty's A Worn Path

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When studying patterns and trends in society, some sociologists refer to the unequal distribution of property, power, and prestige around the world as social stratification. This stratification forms the basis of the divisions of society and categorizations of people. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Eudora Welty’s “A Worn Path,” Gilman and Welty both explore the implications of a stratified society divided on gender and race, respectively, on their protagonist’s psyches.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) was an aspiring artist who attended the Rhode Island School of Design. After the birth of her child, she fell into a deep, long-drawn depression. Her medical treatment, S. Weir Mitchell’s “rest cure,” which involved a period of continuous bed rest, not only failed to cure Gilman, but instead angered her. As someone who psychologically deteriorated under S. Weir Mitchell’s “resting cure,” Gilman unsurprisingly structured her story as an attack on this ineffective and brutal course of treatment. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman illustrates the way an already anxious, agitated mind can deteriorate and begin to prey on itself when forced into inactivity and deprived of the benefits of structure, work and a productive lifestyle.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman recounts, by means of Jane’s journal, the story of Jane and her husband John, following the birth of their baby. Like Gilman, Jane suffers from post-partum depression, and, her husband, who is a physician, locks her in the nursery on the top floor of their summer home. After the first few weeks of her summer in isolation, Jane hides her journal, which contains her true thoughts, so that John will be unaware of...

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Nydegger, Rudy V. Understanding and Treating Depression: Ways to Find Hope and
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Pateman, Carole. The Sexual Contract. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 1988.
Rossides, Daniel W. Social Stratification: The Interplay of Class, Race, and Gender.
Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall, 1997.
Welty, Eudora. “A Worn Path”: 799-805. Richard Bausch and R.V. Cassill. The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. Shorter Seventh ed. New York: Norton, 2006.
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