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A Unique Perspective of The Yellow Wallpaper

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     My perspective of Gilman’s short story, "The Yellow Wall-Paper" is influenced by a great number of different and diverse methods of reading. However, one cannot overlook the feminist theorists’ on this story, for the story is often proclaimed to be a founding work of feminism. Further, the historical and biographical contexts the story was written in can be enlightened by mentioning Gilman’s relationship with S. Weir Mitchell. And I can’t help but read the story and think of Foucault’s concept of Panopticism as a method of social control. Lastly, of course, there’s the psychological perspective on the story, although in my readings of psychology, particularly the psychological knowledge surrounding both women and queers, I find the discipline incredibly tainted with patriarchy and heterosexism.


     At this point, I’d like to define a few terms somewhat precisely, at least as I intend to use them in the context of this paper. In this paper, I use the term "queer" for two reasons: one of which is in the spirit of reclaiming a word that has traditionally been used to verbally abuse non-heterosexual people for decades, and secondly because in the heterosexual mindset there are no differences between bisexuals, gay men, lesbians, transgendered and transsexual people. Brett Beemyn and Mickey Eliason write: "We have chosen to use ‘queer’ because it best characterizes our own personal beliefs, and it potentially leaves room for all people who are attracted to others of the same sex or whose bodies or sexual desires do not fit dominant standards of gender and/or sexuality" (5). One of the first questions that must be answered, of course, is why is it important to look at literature from a queer perspective? Is a reader, such ...


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...otte Perkins Gilman and the Politics of Form." Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature 14.2 (1995): 273-293.

Flannigan-Saint-Aubin, Arthur. "The Mark of Sexual Preference in the Interpretation of Texts: Preface to a Homosexual Reading. (Gay and Lesbian Studies)." Journal of Homosexuality 24.1-2 (1992): 65-89.

Foucault, Michel. Discipline & Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Trans. Alan Sheridan. 2nd ed. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wall-Paper." New England Magazine (1892). (Rpt. in Major American Short Stories. Ed. A. Walton Litz. New York and Oxford: Oxford UP, 1994. 286-300.)

Kasmer, Lisa. "Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’: a Symptomatic Reading." Literature and Psychology 36.3 (1990): 1-15.

Tierney, William G. Academic Outlaws. Thousand Oaks, London and New Delhi: SAGE Publications, 1997.

 


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