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Teaching Guide

Teaching The Yellow Wallpaper

Interior decorators needed.

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"The Yellow Wallpaper" is a classic, but teaching it over and over again might be driving you mad. We won't prescribe bed rest, but we have some exciting new techniques for teaching this tale.

Before you decide to redecorate your classroom with psychosis-inducing yellow wallpaper, try our teaching guide instead. And no, we don't mean print it out and tape it to the walls.

In this guide you will find

  • an activity psychoanalyzing the author and her characters.
  • modern pop culture connections including three film versions (one of which stars Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer—you're welcome).
  • essay questions exploring every aspect of the story, from the relationship between the narrator and her husband to that ending (you know the one).

Shmoop will make sure you're not pacing around the room like a mad-person trying to teach this story.

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Shmoop is a labor of love from folks who love to teach. Our teaching guides will help you supplement in-classroom learning with fun, engaging, and relatable learning materials that bring literature to life.

Inside each guide you'll find quizzes, activity ideas, discussion questions, and more—all written by experts and designed to save you time. Here are the deets on what you get with your teaching guide:

  • 13-18 Common Core-aligned activities to complete in class with your students, including detailed instructions for you and your students. 
  • Discussion and essay questions for all levels of students.
  • Reading quizzes for every chapter, act, or part of the text.
  • Resources to help make the book feel more relevant to your 21st-century students.
  • A note from Shmoop's teachers to you, telling you what to expect from teaching the text and how you can overcome the hurdles.

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Instructions for You

Objective: Students will be able to compare a scene from "The Yellow Wallpaper" to a scene from a film adaptation in order to analyze the differences and similarities in the development of a character or a theme across different media. Students will also be able to translate their ideas into a comparative, analytical essay that grapples with the complexities of the novel and the film.

Length of Lesson: 1-2 class periods, depending on if a film is shown in its entirety, followed by a homework assignment

Materials Needed:

  • Video-viewing equipment
  • Video clips from one of the film adaptations (1977, 1989, or 2011)

Step 1: Introduce the objective of the day and the fact that the story has been made into several films, including a 2011 adaptation.

Step 2: Show a pre-selected clip from the film or, if time allows and the 1977 short Marie Ashton film is available, show the film in its entirety (about fifteen minutes).

Step 3: After the scene/film is finished, introduce four questions that, ideally, have already been written on chart paper (one question per sheet) and posted around the room (more questions can be added depending on the size of the class and the content needing to be covered):

  • How is the narrator portrayed (i.e., what does she look and act like)?
  • What do the house and the bedroom look like?
  • How are the other characters (if any) portrayed?
  • What is the mood/tone of the film/story?

Each poster should be divided into a T-chart, with one side labeled "film," the other "story."

Step 4: Divide the class into four (or more) groups, one group for each poster. Have the students answer the questions on the poster before them. Emphasize that answers should have supporting textual evidence written down.

Step 5: Once each group is finished (allow 5-10 minutes), have all the groups rotate to the next station. Repeat the process until all groups have returned to their original stations.

Step 6: Go to each station and lead a discussion around each question using the ideas the students have jotted down. Emphasize that each student needs to take notes of their own so they can use the notes for their essays.

Step 7: After the class discussion, ask the students to use their notes in order to write a comparative analysis of the film and the story for homework.

(California English Language Arts Standards Met: 9th and 10th grade Reading 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.7, 3.8, 3.9, 3.11, 3.12; Writing 2.3; Listening and Speaking 1.14. 11th and 12th grade Reading 3.2, 3.3, 3.5c, 3.8; Writing 2.2; Listening and Speaking 1.3.)

Instructions for Your Students

Usually, people say that, when it comes to film adaptations, the book is better than the film. Let's see if you think that holds true for "The Yellow Wallpaper."

Step 1: In class you'll watch a scene from one of the adaptations of "The Yellow Wallpaper." Then you'll think about and take notes on the following questions:

  • How is the narrator portrayed (i.e., what does she look and act like)?
  • What do the house and the bedroom look like?
  • How are the other characters (if any) portrayed?
  • What is the mood/tone of the film/story?

Step 2: Using the notes you jotted down in class, write an essay comparing the film and story.

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WANT MORE HELP TEACHING THE YELLOW WALLPAPER?

Check out all the different parts of our corresponding learning guide.

Intro    Summary    Themes    Quotes    Characters    Analysis    Questions    Quizzes    Flashcards    Best of the Web    Write Essay    
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