Essay PreviewMore ↓
Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story, "The Giant Wistaria" was first published in June 1891 in The New England Magazine, the same journal that would publish "The Yellow Wallpaper" a year later in 1892. These were difficult years in Gilman's life: she had separated from her first husband, artist Charles Walter Stetson, and was attempting, unsuccessfully, to resolve her contradictory desires, on one hand, to be a good wife and mother in conventional terms, and on the other, to be autonomous and seriously dedicated to her work. In 1891-1892, Gilman (still using the name Stetson) was enjoying her first literary successes, confirming her decision to work politically for women's rights, and moving toward the painful decision to give up custody of her daughter, who, beginning in May 1894, would be raised by Stetson's second wife--whom Gilman considered a "co-mother."
Although "The Giant Wistaria" remains largely unknown while "The Yellow Wallpaper" has earned the status of American classic since its rediscovery by feminist critics in the 1970s, the two texts are easily seen as companions, for they share many of the same formal and thematic concerns. Both "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "The Giant Wistaria" explore the troubled nexus between the sexual repression of women, patriarchal control of motherhood, madness, and the anxiety of authorship. Both are fragmented in form and depend for their correct interpretation on a community of sympathetic readers implicitly constructed by Gilman as feminist, if not also female.
"The Giant Wistaria" is a story in two parts. The first, which takes place at least one hundred years before the second, concerns the punishment of a young woman by her parents, especially by her father, for having borne an illegitimate child. The second part takes place in the present, that is, in the late nineteenth century, as a group of young people--Mr. and Mrs. Jenny, their "pretty sisters" and their sisters' suitors--discover the house's horrific secret. Gloria A. Biamonte's interpretation of "The Giant Wistaria" implicitly casts the young set as a community of readers and emphasizes the divisions of that community by gender. It is the women who are at first convinced that the house must have "a story, if we could only find it," while the men merely scoff and tease until the house will no longer permit that careless attitude. In addition, at the story's end it becomes clear that the women will be the house's most sensitive and skillful readers, as it is perhaps also clear that its gothic tale is intended as a warning for themselves.
How to Cite this Page
"Essay Comparing The Giant Wistaria and Yellow Wallpaper." 123HelpMe.com. 23 Oct 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Compare and Contrast Women Characters in The Yellow Wallpaper and Story of an Hour Women have traditionally been known as the less dominant sex. Through history women have fought for equal rights and freedom. They have been stereotyped as being housewives, and bearers of children. Only with the push of the Equal Rights Amendment have women had a strong hold on the workplace alongside men. Many interesting characters in literature are conceived from the tension women have faced with men. This tension comes from men, society, in general, and within a woman herself.... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
1277 words (3.6 pages)
- “To jump out of the window would be admirable exercise, but the bars are too strong even to try,” (Gilman). There are an extraordinary amount of stories written about women that go insane for certain reasons. Two of those stories are, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner. Both stories are about women who are driven insane by situations that are happening in their lives; both women turn to isolation for different reasonings. Both A Rose for Emily by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner show similarities and differences with dysfunctional lives.... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
760 words (2.2 pages)
- Annotated Bibliography for a Paper Discussing the Decline in Sanity of the Main Character in The Yellow Wallpaper Blackie, Michael. "Reading the Rest Cure." The Arizona Quarterly 60.2 (2004): 57-85. ProQuest. Web. 24 Apr. 2016. Blackie analyzes Gilman’s take on the rest cure created by Weir Mitchel in this document and goes into depth to describe the regimen that is to be followed. He expresses his view that the rest cure may not have been as bad as it is portrayed in The Yellow Wallpaper. This document will allow me to provide the accounts of others, both good and bad, when it comes to the treatment known as the rest cure.... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
1230 words (3.5 pages)
- “The Yellow Wallpaper” was written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Gilman was born on 1860 and die in 1935. This story was illustrated on l892. “The Yellow Wallpaper” took place in a colonial mansion which look like hunted house according to the Jennie. Inside the mansion there was all kind of things that made the mansion look like it was used for mental health. Jennie husband john didn’t let her out the house. Time pass by and she became crazy and started saying she was the lady in the yellow wallpaper.... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
761 words (2.2 pages)
- Is unusual, unusual behavior actually normal behavior. This is actually an important question to ask when it comes to postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is an illness like heart disease. Anyone can get this illness, it doesn 't matter how smart, successful or religious you are. An example of people who may get this disease, but not limited to are women who 've given birth. They may experience loss of interest, feeling irritable, feeling restless, hard time falling asleep or staying awake.... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
1653 words (4.7 pages)
- The Yellow Wallpaper is a story of a new mother struggling with postpartum depression. Family members, including her husband, believed she was suffering from a nervous condition. The author of the story The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gillman, was a woman’s activist who believed there was no difference between men and women mentalities. An example of this, Gilman was quoted as saying, “There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. Might as well speak of a female liver” (BrainyQuote).... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
1307 words (3.7 pages)
- Male Dominance in The Yellow Wallpaper The story of The Yellow Wallpaper reflects the period where men dominated women. The real meaning of this story is written hidden behind it. The author had used a writing style that is taking objects portraying men, women, and society. The story first starts off a couple have moved to a house. A so- called haunted house, her wife describes it. The wife, who is a patient of her husband, has moved here to cure her sickness. She does not admit that she has a problem. Everyday she keeps looking at the tore yellow wallpaper.... [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]
589 words (1.7 pages)
- The Narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper In “The Yellow Wallpaper” the narrator becomes more depressed throughout the story because of the recommendation of isolation that was made to her. In this short story the narrator is detained in a lonesome, drab room in an attempt to free herself of a nervous disorder. The narrator’s husband, a physician, adheres to this belief and forces his wife into a treatment of solitude. Rather than heal the narrator of her psychological disorder, the treatment only contributes to its effects, driving her into a severe depression.... [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper]
832 words (2.4 pages)
- Importance of Setting and Wallpaper in The Yellow Wallpaper The Room itself represents the author’s unconscious protective cell that has encased her mind, represented by the woman, for a very long time. This cell is slowly deteriorating and losing control of her thoughts. I believe that this room is set up as a self-defense mechanism when the author herself is put into the asylum. She sets this false wall up to protect her from actually becoming insane and the longer she is in there the more the wall paper begins to deteriorate.... [tags: Yellow Wallpaper essays]
1463 words (4.2 pages)
- Schizophrenia in The Yellow Wallpaper Throughout history people have always seemed to follow what notions that were considered "cool". Though I doubt that "cool" was the word used to describe these notions they were still there in some form or another. One of the greatest farces ever committed in the name of these popular perceptions was medicine. At that time, medicine that was on the cutting edge seem to have always involved some sort of noxious chemical or a typically atrocious diet.... [tags: The Yellow Wallpaper Essays]
1225 words (3.5 pages)
- Male View of Hysteria Presented in The Yellow Wallpaper
- Symbolism in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
- Catcher in the Rye Essay: Holden’s Metamorphosis
- Emily Dickinson’s Poem 422
- Imprisonment of Women Exposed in The Yellow Wallpaper
- The Yellow Wallpaper as a Guide To Insanity and Madness
What, then, does the house represent? Like the "ancestral mansion" of "The Yellow Wallpaper," the house beneath "The Giant Wistaria" is a symbol of patriarchal culture. Built, maintained, and controlled by men, the house is a place of entrapment for the woman at the story's center. The wistaria, on the other hand, is clearly a symbol of female presence and of the power of women (cast as a formidable force of nature) to dismantle patriarchal constructs: having been nurtured as a tender slip by the young woman's mother in part one, it comes to engulf the house in part two, threatening even to bring it down.
While the young Jennys and their siblings "move toward uncovering [the] century-old tale of a woman and her child--a tale that we, as readers, have been partly told in the opening segment of the story" (Biamonte 33-34), readers of "The Giant Wistaria" have a double duty to perform. First, with the characters of the story's second part, we too must attempt to read across at least a century of silence to reconstruct the first woman's story. We must also attempt to discover its place in Gilman's two-parted tale. We must discover, in other words, what tradition--what historical and cultural continuities--links the two halves of this story together. Readers inevitably must ask whether the (patriarchal) forces that shaped women's sexuality and the practices of motherhood in the past remain a force in the present, and if so, how. To what extent is the subject of sexuality still shrouded with shame and riddled with silence? Even today, are women free to love where we choose? And finally, what powers do women exercise over the institution of motherhood?
"The Giant Wistaria" has been reprinted at least twice since its original publication in 1891, once in the scholarly journal Legacy (1988) and later in an anthology of Gilman's writings edited by Robert Shulman (1995). The present electronic edition is the only contemporary reprint, however, that includes the two illustrations that originally appeared with the story in 1891.
Works Cited and Consulted
Beer, Janet. Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Studies in Short Fiction. NY: St. Martin's P, 1997.
Biamonte, Gloria A. "'...there is a story, if we could only find it': Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'The Giant Wistaria'." Legacy 5.2 (Fall 1988): 33-43.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories. Ed. Robert Shulman. NY: Oxford UP, 1995.
Hill, Mary A. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Making of a Radical Feminist, 1860-1896. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1980.
Knight, Denise D. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1997.
Lane, Ann J. To Herland and Beyond: The Life and Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. NY: Pantheon Books, 1990.