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The Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper


by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper Theme of Society and Class

The story and message of "The Yellow Wallpaper" are rooted in a very specific class and societal dynamic. The narrator is a member of the upper class; she and her husband are wealthy enough to take a summer off and have servants cater to their every need. In this fashion, the narrator’s story may be critiqued for limiting itself to the troubles of wealthy women. The society described in "The Yellow Wallpaper" concerns not only a certain class, but also a certain type of society, in which women play limited roles.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. Are there aspects of the narrator’s story that are particularly class-based? Which? Remember that work is not a necessity for her. Are there aspects of her story that are timeless and apply to all women, regardless of class or race?
  2. What is the effect of the narrator identifying herself and her husband as "mere ordinary people"?
  3. To what extent is the narrator conscious of her own place in society?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Working-class women can identify with the narrator’s story of women’s oppression by men.

Working-class women may have trouble identifying with "The Yellow Wallpaper" because the narrator’s story deals very specifically with the problems experienced by women of the upper class.

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