Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Yellow Wallpaper

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The Yellow Wallpaper Notes/Research Documents

Dr. L. Kit Wheeler’s Website of Literary definitions
Manuscripts from the Gothic period of art likewise have strange monsters and fantastical creatures depicted in the margins of the page, and elaborate vine-work or leaf-work painted along the borders. The term has come to be used much more loosely to refer to gloomy or frightening literature. Contrast with horror story, Gothic literature and Gothic novel (below).
GOTHIC LITERATURE: Poetry, short stories, or novels designed to thrill readers by providing mystery and blood-curdling accounts of villainy, murder, and the supernatural. As J. A. Cuddon suggests, the conventions of gothic literature include wild and desolate landscapes, ancient buildings such as ruined monasteries; cathedrals; castles with dungeons, torture chambers, secret doors, and winding stairways; apparitions, phantoms, demons, and necromancers; an atmosphere of brooding gloom; and youthful, handsome heroes and fainting (or screaming!) heroines who face off against corrupt aristocrats, wicked witches, and hideous monsters. Conventionally, female characters are threatened by powerful or impetuous male figures, and description functions through a metonymy of fear by presenting details designed to evoke horror, disgust, or terror
PSYCHOLOGICAL REALISM: The sense that characters in fictional narratives have realistic "interiority" or complex emotional and intellectual depth, including perhaps subconscious urges and fears they are not aware of. On an outward level, this realism typically involves reacting to external characters and situations in a manner consistent with the expectations of readers (verisimilitude). On an internal level, it may involve the revelation of characters' thoughts and internal meditations about themselves and others. Such internal machinations are a standard part of Elizabethan drama in the form of the soliloquy. However, psychological realism is associated most closely with the movement toward "realism" and "naturalism" in the nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries. After psychoanalysis appeared, Freudian ideas influenced many writers who sought to incorporate his theories into their own depictions of characters.
Whether or not we can speak of psychological realism in literary works before the Renaissance is a thorny issue. Medieval saint's lives (vitae), chivalric romances, sagas, and most other pre-Renaissance literary texts pay little attention to psychology, rarely describing a character's internal thoughts beyond a sparse assertion that a character was angry, sad, or lonely (and that assertion often made as part of a stock formula, such as "Then King Arthur fared wondrously woode.") Often ancient works are so focused on allegory to the exclusion of psychology that some critics assert pre-Renaissance writers and readers had very little sense of interiority or any unique "self" apart from tribe, family, religious caste, occupation, or social standing. The difference is so marked that some scholars like Harold Bloom speak of "the invention of the human" in the Renaissance. On the other hand, it is difficult to read something like The Confessions of Saint Augustine without getting a sense of a real human being intensely aware of his own psychology. Possibly, the difference is rooted in conventions of literature rather than any actual historical change in human self-awareness, but the debate continues.

Date: 1892
Author: Charlotte Perkins Gilman
From: Encyclopedia of Fantasy and Horror Fiction.

"The Yellow Wallpaper"

that concentrates so completely on the psy chology of the narrator-protagonist that the events described could be either supernatural or delusional.

The symbolism is very obvious. Trapped in her own life by the pattern imposed by her husband, she "escapes" through a series of rebellious acts. Whether this breakdown was inherent in her situation or whether the