Feminism in Charlotte Gilman and Alice Walker's Literature

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What is Feminism? How does feminism affect the world we live in today? Was feminism always present in history, and if so why was it such a struggle for women to gain the respect they rightly deserve? Many authors are able to express their feelings and passions about this subject within their writing. When reading literary works, one can sense the different feminist stages depending on the timeframe that the writing takes place. Two such works are ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by, Charlotte Gilman and ‘Everyday Use’ by, Alice Walker; the feminist views within each story are very apparent by the era each author lives in. It is evident that a matter of fifty years can change the stance of an author’s writing; in one story the main character is a confident and strong willed young woman looking to voice her feminist views on the world, while the other story’s main character is a woman trying to hold on to her voice in a man’s world which is driving her insane.

Both authors, Charlotte Gilman and Alice Walker were and are women rights activists. Gilman was best known for her fiction, although she did write a few nonfiction pieces that captured the public’s eye. Her book ‘Women and Economics’ written in 1889, was a tool to assist women to gain economic independence. It was even used as a textbook at one time (The Biography.com website, 2014). She also created a magazine called The Forerunner. This was a magazine for women to be creative; write poetry, fiction, short stories and have them published. Gilman’s success was not without moments of despair and depression in her personal life. ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ was written shortly after this period in her life.

The content of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ was a public topic of conversation among var...

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...t she herself had never suffered from hallucinations, but that she was depressed and mentally unwell for years. She wrote this in hopes that it will help at least one woman in the same position.

Stone, Katherine. "Postpartum Psychosis in the Early 1900s." Postpartum Depression. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Apr. 2014. .

It is assumed in “The Yellow Wallpaper” that the main character may be suffering from postpartum depression. This site gives information on postpartum in the early 1900’s by referencing a similar story of Rachel Calof.

Kennedy, X. J., and Dana Gioia. Backpack literature: An introduction to fiction, poetry, drama, and writing. Pearson.

This reference contained both stories of “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker.

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