Kakos' 6th Hour

Reactions and comments from my sixth hour Honors American Literature class.

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My favorite place in the world to be is underwater. My second favorite place is the front of a classroom.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Yellow Wallpaper

Please post one or two higher level thinking questions (application, analysis, synthesis, or evalutation) inspired by "The Yellow Wallpaper." Be sure to read the other questions before posting your own to avoid repetition.

70 Comments:

Blogger Olivia C. said...

Wow, what a well-written story! I read the story twice, as I thought it was so intriguing. My question to pose:
1. Is the woman allowing for herself to be set free or is she further constricting herself by focusing on the wall so often and finally tearing down the bars that served to be so taunting?

4:55 PM  
Blogger allison n said...

Do you believe that the women's relationship with John correlates to what she did to the room at the end of the story?

5:35 PM  
Blogger KristinC said...

I see where your coming from but I had a different take on it.
1.Could her nervousness simply be caused by the fact that her imagination is locked up inside of her?

5:36 PM  
Blogger Olivia C. said...

Kristin, Good point! Great question

5:45 PM  
Blogger Aubry P. said...

How are the woman and the wallpaper similar and different in their attitudes?

5:45 PM  
Blogger AaronW said...

This is another story I think I need to be on acid to truly understand, but I understood it enough for my questions:

Do you think the woman's room and the wallpaper a metaphor of the narrator's descent into madness? Are her trips to the gardens outside the house representative of brief moments of clarity and sanity?

5:53 PM  
Blogger Alexaaaaa said...

Why didn't the house's previous owners destroy the yellow-papered room?

5:55 PM  
Blogger Logan J said...

Was John a positive influence on her by providing something to resist and therefore giving her power, or was he a negative influence by stifling her ambitions and her mind?

5:55 PM  
Blogger Tori S said...

Was the woman she saw creeping around in the garden her subconsious telling her that she wants to be out there or is it just her imagination forming something to keep her occupied?

6:01 PM  
Blogger Alexandra H said...

This might be kind of like other people's questions but: Did the woman see herself in the wallpaper, confined to the room behind bars?

6:19 PM  
Blogger HUH? said...

Sometimes I stare at my pink and white stripped walls and I get lost in it.

The sunlight and moonlight is emphasized quite a bit in the story. As the story progresses, how does this affect the narrator mentally and verbally? Do these events help narrator through her illness?

6:52 PM  
Blogger katie_r said...

Why is some of the paper already torn off? Is there really something there, and if so, do John and Jane see it when the wife walks in on them staring at the wall?

7:09 PM  
Blogger ryanp said...

How do Jennie's duties and personality effect the narrator and her disease? How does this compare to the way that John influences the narrator?

7:20 PM  
Blogger brian k said...

DO you think she sees herself a little like the maze in the wallpaper? No matter how much she hopes, she just can't see a way out of her situation. Does she eventually see, like Alexandra says, herself locked behind bars in the wallpaper?

7:26 PM  
Blogger matt l said...

How does the narrator change from the beginning of the story to the end?

Has she accomplished anything through her struggle to satisfy a superstition?

7:56 PM  
Blogger brianc said...

Here is a crazy twilight zone take on the story. Maybe, the wallpaper has some magical powers that entrance anyone and the women hiding and creeping in it are really just other women who have been trapped in it!! That is why they are trying to escape, and now it is starting to entrance and capture the main character.

8:03 PM  
Blogger A_Nielsen said...

Do you think John treated the woman more like his wife or a patient?

8:15 PM  
Blogger christineT said...

At the beginning of the story, the woman says that she believes that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do her good. Do you think the woman really sees the other woman in the wallpaper? Is it just an exciting story to keep her occupied? Or is it a metaphor for herself, being locked up in the house, and having to sneak around to find the meaning of her wallpaper?

8:23 PM  
Blogger Andie R said...

Why do you think the wallpaper was the catalyst that broke down what remained of the fragile walls between her sane self and her insane self?

What had caused the insane self to remain hidden and trapped behind the bars of her mind for all the years before her "breakdown"?

8:27 PM  
Blogger Ryan S said...

Why do you think her health improved as she got more and more in involved in tearing down the wallpaper? Was it something for her to concentrate on or was it the wall in some weird haunted kind of way?

8:36 PM  
Blogger nicci c said...

At the end of the story she says, "I shall have to get back behind the pattern when it comes night, and that is hard!" Do you think she feels like she has become one of the women behind the wall or was she only seeing some version of herself trying to escape. Also, why do you think she would want to get "back behind the pattern"?

8:42 PM  
Blogger LindsayS said...

Why is the smooch on the wall the same height as her shoulder? Have other women creeped around on the floor before because of their obsession with the wall paper? If so, why didn't any of them tear it down before her?

This story kind of scares me, especially when she continues to creep around the floor even when her husband is passed out, in her way. The picture adds to the "freakiness" of it.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Pieter O said...

Can anyone try to draw the wallpaper? The author describes it so much, that it actually destroys the description of the wallpaper. Why would the author not want the wallpaper being able to actually exist?
"I never saw a worse paper in my life. One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin. It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide--plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions. The color is repelllent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight. It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others."

8:51 PM  
Blogger anam said...

How might the woman who is trapped in the yellow wallpaper be symbolic for the narrator and her disease?

8:53 PM  
Blogger A_Nielsen said...

Why does the human brain allow humans the capabilities to produce technological creations such as airplanes and cars but can also make humans do horrible damage such as murder? The mind can also play tricks on us and manipulate us like the woman in "The Yellow Wallpaper."

8:57 PM  
Blogger Michelle S said...

Do you think this story resembles the oppression of women in the 19th century? Was the husband John her oppressor or her salvation from illusions brought about by the yellow wallpaper?

9:03 PM  
Blogger Thomas_N said...

Do you think that it is just in her mind that the tearing down of the wall paper is making her better or is there actually something in the wallpaper that was causing her to be sick?

9:07 PM  
Blogger corey c said...

I have several questions, I hope that is okay(sorry if it's not...)

How do the personalities of the main character and the paper resemble each other?(or does the wall hold a personality at all?)

What is it that intruiges people in the story, the wall "slaps them in the face" but continues to fascinate every guest, and they all "creep around" making a mark on the wall? (and I noticed she said that the bedpost was knawed, was this out of irritation by another guest?)

What is the meaning of the wallpaper, or does it truly exist? being a patient for a phycic illness could she possibly have made the wallpaper into something completely different than it truly is?

Why is it that the character is willing to submit herself to the pattern, without aknowloging her actions? what would you do in this case, have the courage to walk away or would you continue as she did?

sorry for all the questions, I actually strongly disliked this story, the writing style and oddness really freaked me out...anyone else?

9:18 PM  
Blogger Amy O. said...

Does the way she views the garden represent deeper stages of her illness?

Her first impression is one of delight, her second thoughts more apprehensive, and the next time she mentions the garden the woman is creeping around in it.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Christine D said...

The narrator mentions that she has cought both John and Jennie looking at the wall paper, and she is desturbed by this. How does the wall paper affect the characters views on the narrator's condition? And why is the narrator so disturbed by the fact that others are looking at the wall paper when she wants people to believe her that something is strange about the paper and the house?

9:34 PM  
Blogger corey c said...

What if the women has multiple personalities...and the marks that she sees on the wall are truly made by her? she is so angry that she can't figure it out that she knaws the bedpost...I think that she does have multiple personalities and does the same things(creeping) over and over...(seriously!)

9:56 PM  
Blogger Hannah S said...

I thought this story was very disturbing. It was confusing and hard to comprehend, but all together confusing.

As the story progresses, why and how does the wallpaper slowly start taking over the narrator's life? Is it just because she has nothing more to do, or can she actually relate to the lady behind the bars? Also, is there anyway she can actually be the lady behind the bars?

10:08 PM  
Blogger brianc said...

Interesting question Tori. I never really thought about it but it seems to be pretty likely. The whole room could represent her subcouncious, and the person creeping around could be her wanting to escape. At night she is trapped and wants to escape, but during the day, she is free from her husband and therefore free to do what she pleases. I think I see a divorce coming up.

1:50 PM  
Blogger Hannah S said...

What if the women has multiple personalities...and the marks that she sees on the wall are truly made by her? she is so angry that she can't figure it out that she knaws the bedpost...I think that she does have multiple personalities and does the same things(creeping) over and over...(seriously!) -Corey C

I agree with him and think that he could be right. She seems like a lady who would have multiple personalities and forget about things that she did and wonder who did it. She seems to have problems with the way that her life is and she could be stuck between changing her life and the way it is at the time.

1:51 PM  
Blogger christineT said...

Ali's question
This might be kind of like other people's questions but: Did the woman see herself in the wallpaper, confined to the room behind bars?

I think the woman did see herself, or maybe that she actually was the woman in the wallpaper. She really was behind bars because she was not able to do anything she wanted or leave the house. She couldn't help herself, she had to hope that someone else would help her get out of her prison.

1:51 PM  
Blogger Tori S said...

I am responding to Brian C's question. I think it is interesting take that the wallpaper could actually be entrancing people. I took it more as a figment of her imagination but what if it really does have an agenda of its own. That really makes me think of the people that put that wallpaper there to begin with and if they knew what "powers" it has?

1:52 PM  
Blogger Alexandra H said...

Could her nervousness simply be caused by the fact that her imagination is locked up inside of her? -KristinC

I think that her nervousness could be caused by the fact that her husband leaves her daily and makes her sit in a room by herself. When she is by herself, her mind just wanders and all she can think about is the wallpaper. But what do you mean by the fact that her imagination is locked up inside her?

1:53 PM  
Blogger Ryan B said...

In response to Kristin's question, I believe that the womans disorder is caused by her lack of expressing her imagination. This could be why she likes to write so much.

1:54 PM  
Blogger Aubry P. said...

Allison,I liked your question. I think that her husband did relate to the action against the wallpaper. He confined her and her imagination. I think that she was ripping down the wallpaper to free the women behind it as a way of freeing herself from him.

1:54 PM  
Blogger allison n said...

I am going to respond to Tori's question. I think the women creeping in the wall paper represents the women in the story. She is being kept in the house and whenever she begins to use her imagination, her husband pulls her back. She is seeing the women try to escape the ugly wall paper, and she is trying to escape her ugly life.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Logan J said...

I chose to respond to Matt's quesiton: How does the narrator change from the beginning of the story to the end?

The narrator is very calm and polite in the beginning. She seems to restrain herself constantly and only act the way she's told to be acting. Toward the end she lets loose a little, and allows her mind to venture into curiosity (or insanity, depending on how you view it).

1:55 PM  
Blogger LindsayS said...

Responding to Logan's question, I think John is a very negative influence on the character and him making her lie and sit all day long and not letting her engage in any activities. I think that if he let her do somethings, like writing, it would be better because her trying to hide it just made her worse until she had something active to do, like tear down the wallpaper.

1:55 PM  
Blogger brian k said...

Responding to the question posted by Ryan S, I think that the wallpaper gave her something to focus on and gave her a type of purpose. She was stuck at home all day long and needed something to focus on so she wouldn't go crazy (which she seemed to do anyways).

1:56 PM  
Blogger brianc said...

Interesting question Tori. I never really thought about it but it seems to be pretty likely. The whole room could represent her subcouncious, and the person creeping around could be her wanting to escape. At night she is trapped and wants to escape, but during the day, she is free from her husband and therefore free to do what she pleases. I think I see a divorce coming up.

1:57 PM  
Blogger nicci c said...

Christine D said.
The narrator mentions that she has cought both John and Jennie looking at the wall paper, and she is desturbed by this. How does the wall paper affect the characters views on the narrator's condition? And why is the narrator so disturbed by the fact that others are looking at the wall paper when she wants people to believe her that something is strange about the paper and the house?

I believe that tht wallpaper affects John and Jenny's view on the narrarator because they see it constantly being removed. They believe that it is the narrarator because she is either complaining about the paper or asking to be left alone in the room. They might think that she is tearing the paper down and her condition is getting worse. I also think that she dosen't care wether they believe her or not as long as she gets the women she sees out of the wall.

1:57 PM  
Blogger nicci c said...

Christine D said.
The narrator mentions that she has cought both John and Jennie looking at the wall paper, and she is desturbed by this. How does the wall paper affect the characters views on the narrator's condition? And why is the narrator so disturbed by the fact that others are looking at the wall paper when she wants people to believe her that something is strange about the paper and the house?

I believe that tht wallpaper affects John and Jenny's view on the narrarator because they see it constantly being removed. They believe that it is the narrarator because she is either complaining about the paper or asking to be left alone in the room. They might think that she is tearing the paper down and her condition is getting worse. I also think that she dosen't care wether they believe her or not as long as she gets the women she sees out of the wall.

1:58 PM  
Blogger AaronW said...

In response to Thomas' question, I believe that it was in her mind. An object such as wallpaper could not physically hurt someone, and the woman did have mental problems. The tearing down of the wallpaper is more symbolic of the freedom of her mind instead of an actual physical thing

1:58 PM  
Blogger matt l said...

ryan seguras question (deep)

The narrators health improved as she tore down more and more of the wallpaper because she could see herself in the wallpaper. By tearing down the wallpaper, she was subconsciously freeing herself from her disease, and it made her better. Her disease was all mental.

2:00 PM  
Blogger katie_r said...

I am responding to amy o's question, Does the way she views the garden represent deeper stages of her illness?

I think it does, because when she first arrives, she is not as sick and she sees the garden as beautiful, while she sees the wallpaper as ugly. But the longer she is at the house, the more she starts to see the garden differently, and starts to be more and more intrigued by the wallpaper. Until the end, when she is the sickest, she is completly absorbed with the wallpaper, and, like amy said, she sees a woman creeping around in the gareden.

2:03 PM  
Blogger Olivia C. said...

Responding to Corey's comment/quesiton:
I completely agree that the lady has multiple personalities as she alters views of characters and changes character traits throughout the short story. Also, it was interesting at one point in the story when she commented on the gnaw marks at the end of the bedpost, then later the woman makes her own mark in the wood. However, I think the lady not only takes on the role of the woman in the wall but also the children that lived and played in the nursery earlier.

2:46 PM  
Blogger corey c said...

Responding to Katie R's question: I believe that seing as how the narrator has a mental illness she just doesnt remember things, and that it is truly her that ran along the wall with her shoulder(notice how the mark is her exact height). I also belive that there is something in the wall because the husband and sister all all caught in the room staring at it...but what is in the wall? This story still scares me too....

3:33 PM  
Blogger corey c said...

Dear Class, I found an article which the author wrote regarding her story and the reason that she wrote it, its very interesting. go to http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/whyyw.html

3:46 PM  
Blogger Ms. Kakos said...

Corey--Thanks for finding this. Next year I'll have my students read this after they read the story. I want all of you to remember this article when we start talking about "hegemony" (the process by which the powerful maintain their power and keep others powerless).

It also looks like Corey just scored himself a point for MVB (Most Valuable Blogger).

5:26 PM  
Blogger HUH? said...

Peter the question you wrote blew me away. The question boggled my mind so much, I'm still laying out ideas what really the wall could be about. Yes the author consistently referred to the wall using a large variety of descriptive words which seem to differ but link together in one form or another.

As a reader, I believe the author really did want to put as much "emotion" and visual expansion on what the wall may look like. To give the a character like description. That is the reason why the wall may difficult to comprehend. It is as if asking someone to draw a human being based on a written description. It all depends on how the reader will comprehend the descriptions.

9:29 PM  
Blogger AaronW said...

we need a mvfb (most valuable fish bowler)

12:17 PM  
Blogger KristinC said...

Do you think she sees herself a little like the maze in the wallpaper? No matter how much she hopes, she just can't see a way out of her situation. Does she eventually see, like Alexandra says, herself locked behind bars in the wallpaper? -briank
Your question brings up an interesting point. I think that she does view herself like the wallpaper. Her whole life has been this continuous pattern, like the wallpaper, but every once and a while the pattern is disrupted and her world is a mess and it is hard to find her way back. She is bothered by the wallpaper because she sees herself in the wall and all she can ever see is the faults. All she sees is her own, horrible looking faults and that eventually drives her insane.

1:47 PM  
Blogger KristinC said...

But what do you mean by the fact that her imagination is locked up inside her?-alexandra
I meant that when her husband and other discourage her from writing that it locks away her imagination which is her biggest outlet of relieving stress. Could her nervousness be caused by the fact that she can no longer write as much as she used to?

1:50 PM  
Blogger Alexaaaaa said...

In response to nicci c's question, I think the narrator projects her struggle to obey her husband onto the wallpaper. As the story wears on, John becomes more adamant that she recover according to his beliefs, forcing the narrator to adjust her behavior until she was acting like a completely different person around John than when alone. She may not have consciously tried to separate both her rejection of John and the responding fake consent of him from herself by associating them with the wallpaper, but I believe this is what she did. The pattern on the wallpaper became the person she showed to John, and the area behind was where she hid her objections to him. In this way she could observe the warring parts of herself without needing to decide which one was right. I do not mean to imply that this is something that happened all at once, however, nor do I think this separation was complete. These natures all belong to the narrator, and she has free access to them throughout the story. The end of the story is convoluted because these pieces of narrator were fighting with each other for supremacy, but from time to time the narrator would remember that she was a person, not three, and when she tries to correct herself she slides them around and mixes them up to fit the situation. When she was talking about going back behind the pattern she was talking about how she would have to act for John when he got home (the pattern's job) and squash her resisting true self away (behind the pattern) completely enough that she couldn't even tell she had done so, or he would notice and punish her (the only reason she would want to do that in the first place). I wouldn't call it multiple personalities so much as self-inspired personification, but I think that's as close as I can get to explaining her situation.

Sorry if that only confused the matter more, I can't say I'm good at thinking like a crazy person.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Olivia C. said...

So I was just presented with the idea that the bars on the window are there for the lady and they were not placed there for the children. Also, in the response to the question posted Friday, I do think the whole thing is staged in a mental hospital due to the bed nailed down, the bars on the window, going to see the doctor who treated shell schock (a mental disease), and the gnaw marks. The ripped wallpaper, the gnaw marks, the bars, all lead to the conclusion that the story was staged in a mental hospital! Also, due to the time at which the story was written (1887) it makes sense that that would be the type of atmosphere in a mental hospital at that time period.

9:34 PM  
Blogger Olivia C. said...

Also, apparently the short story was converted into a show airing on the "PBS' Masterpiece Theatre in the late 1980's" (reader). How neat would that be to watch?

9:52 PM  
Blogger Olivia C. said...

I apologize, I really don't mean to be blogging this much but I found a link that connects you to the aired version of The Yellow Wallpaper (it was difficult to open up but so interesting afterwards)! If you have an extra half hour, take a look:
http://www.geocities.com/tooncinator_2001/video.htm

9:57 PM  
Blogger ryanp said...

Ryan Segura, I thought that your question was very interesting. I think that her health improved when she began to tear down the wall paper because I think that her disorder is primarily mental. when she found something to release her energy on, she was able to take her mind off of the illness and it made her feel much better.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Ms. Kakos said...

I just have to say how impressed I am right now by this class's weekend blogging. I can already see that the MVB award will be hard fought :) As for the MVFB (see Aaron's post), I guess we'll find out soon.

Olivia--I'll definitely watch the video, and if it's it worth the time, I'll show it in class. Thanks!

12:30 PM  
Blogger Andie R said...

I'm responding to Thomas's question. I don't think the wallpaper was causing her to be sick. I also don't agree that her tearing down the wallpaper made her any better, I think it made her worse. I think she tore down what was left of her mental barriers keeping her insane self locked in her mind when she tore down the wallpaper, letting the "creeper" out. For some reason her fascination with the wallpaper formed a connection to her insanity on a subconscious level. Maybe she was getting sick from the mental exhaustion that came from keeping her sanity for so long.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Thomas_N said...

In response to Nicci C's question I think the lady was so entranced by the wallpaper that she needed to be inside it to finally discover the truth behind it. In a way she has become the women behind the wall because it seems like they are both trying to escape from their own reality.

9:08 PM  
Blogger HUH? said...

I took a little time to research Charlotte Perkins Gilman. As I read deeper into the works of Charlotte, she gave me a reason to believe that she was a philosopher of her own. I've read Plato's "The Laws" and the preface of Charlotte's "The Man Made World." You may ask me what about these two books? The two authors had a belief on how life should be valued and lived. Charlotte Gilman was a believer in the Theory of Life and how life should be lived. After reading Corey's link, this led me to conclude that Charlotte, not only she wanted to help the other woman, but it was her according to her philosophy that she help others. Maybe because of Gilman's anxieties and nervous break downs it gave her reason to create such writing pieces with moral values of life.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Alexandra H said...

I don't think anyone has asked this yet but could it be that, if the house isn't a mental hospital, John wanted to put the narrator in the yellow-papered room because he wanted her to go crazy? By keeping her locked up, yet able to see whats going on outside, she could become crazy. I hope that makes sense.

6:19 PM  
Blogger brian k said...

Alexandra, why would John want her to go crazy? Was he tired of her and wanted to be able to get another wife. Or was he just tired of marriage in general and wanted to be alone.
Personally I think it was a mental facility but I wonder, if John truly thought she wasn't sick why would he put her in a mental facility?

7:04 PM  
Blogger The Dominators said...

Hey everyone, this is a little off topic but you should all check out http://aaronandbrianvtheworld.blogspot.com/

because Aaron and Brian are insane

4:57 PM  
Blogger Alexaaaaa said...

One reason John might want Jane to go crazy- assuming he is a doctor at a mental hospital- could be to learn how patients react to administration of the rest cure, or specifically why patients react badly to the rest cure. Jane objects to many of the ideas behind the rest cure, presented to her when she was perscribed to it. The hospital could have been toying with various ways to present the information of the rest cure so the patient would not reject and then supress it constantly, the main cause of mental collapse. They also could have been studying insanity itself in a cruel sort of way. They would have had to have had some other patients to study insanity effectively, though, which leads me to wonder if there weren't other people in the mansion Jane didn't know about (garden creepers?).

8:32 PM  

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