Rewriting "The Yellow Wallpaper"
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Charlotte Perkins Gilman rank as two of the most outstanding champions of women's rights who were active during the nineteenth century. Both professed a deep and personal faith and both were wise enough and secure enough to develop their own ideas and relationship with their creator. In 1895 Stanton published The Woman's Bible, her personal assault on organized religion's strangle-hold on the women of the world. Gilman published her short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" in 1892. She wrote the story, she said, "to save people from being driven crazy" (Golden 52). The heroine of "The Yellow Wallpaper" finds her only escape from the oppression of a condescending spouse is a headlong descent into madness.
Stanton and Gilman met at least once, about 1896 according to Gilman's autobiography. "Of the many people I met during these years I was particularly impressed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. To have been with her . . . seemed to establish connection with a splendid period of real heroism" (Gilman 216). Perhaps if the philosophies of these two great women were to come together, at the perfect moment, they would possess the potential to save the heroine of "The Yellow Wallpaper." The following scenario might prove feasible.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman l
I was climbing up a mountain-path
With many things to do,
Important business of my own,
And other people's too,
When I ran against a Prejudice
That quite cut off my view.
The Yellow Wallpaper
by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
amended, with apologies,
by Margaret A. Stanton
The heroine of "The Yellow Wallpaper"...
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... Elizabeth Cady Stanton/ Susan B. Anthony: Correspondence, Writings, Speeches. Schocken Books, NY: 1981.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins, The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison: 1990.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins, "The Yellow Wallpaper" The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Second Edition. Gen. Ed. Paul Lauter. D. C. Heath and Co., Lexington, MA: 1994.
Golden, Catherine, ed. The Captive Imagination: A Casebook on The Yellow Wallpaper . The Feminist Press at The City University of NY: 1992.
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. The Woman's Bible. NY European Pub. Co.: 1895-98. Northeastern U. P., Boston: 1993.
1 The poem "An Obstacle" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is used as an epigraph by Catherine Golden, ed. The Captive Imagination: A Casebook on The Yellow Wallpaper (The Feminist Press: NY City UP, 1992) vii.