ting gives voice to her feelings of imprisonment
ting Yellow Wallpaper essaysThe Yellow Wallpaper and Memory, Creation, and Writing The writings I chose to analyze and relate to each other within this assignment are two pieces, which were written by two very different women. The first essay, I would like to introduce is an article written by Toni Morrison, which was published in the New York magazine “Thought” in 1984. In “Memory, Creation, and Writing”, Morrison inspects and analyzes what driving force is necessary in order for a writer to be able to unfold his/her creativity to its highest potential. She states techniques and strategies, which she has found helpful throughout her development to a world -renowned writer. Within this paper, I intend to apply these strategies to “The Yellow Wallpaper” -a ” fictional” story, written by Charlotte Gilman in 1900. This story describes the oppression Gilman feels, as a woman who is confined by the gender- stereotypical roles and expectations laid upon her by her husband.
She gives voice to her feelings of imprisonment and delusion, by using images she perceives in the wallpaper in her room as metaphors of the repressed aspects of her life, which she is unable to express to her husband and confront herself with directly. In her essay “Memory, Creation, and Writing”, Toni Morrison explains the motivations and insights behind the creative process of writing, which she has explored over the course of forty years. The first important point she explains is that within any piece of creative writing, the writer must rely on his/her memory to stimulate his/her imagination. Morrison states clearly that within this process of recalling an event, it is the subjective emotional identification of the writer that is important; factual information is secondary and oftentimes not even desired. In her opinion, it is necessary that the writer collects fragments of his/her memory about a given event, and states that ” the process by which the recollections of these pieces coalesce into a part (and knowing the difference between a piece and a part) is creation” (Morrison, p.386).
She continues this idea, by claiming that within this context, it is important for the writer to examine the specific milieu in which the scene takes place, and what feelings and impressions it evokes. She defines the term memory as being “the deliberate act of remembering which is a form of willed creation” (Morrison, p.385). Looking at creative writing from that perspective enables the writer “to dwell on the way it the circumstance/obstacle appeared and why it appeared in that particular way” (Morrison, p.
385). Morrison furthermore states that it is her intention to write fiction that urges the reader “into active participation in the non-narrative, nonliterary experience of the text, which makes it difficult for the reader to confine himself/herself to a cool and distant acceptance of data” ( Morrison, p.387). This lets the reader create his/her own images to accompany the story and enables him/her to experience the “unorthodox” situation “of being in the company of his her own solitary imagination” (Morrison, p.387). In regard to composition, Morrison states that narrative “is one of the ways in which knowledge is organized” (Morrison, p.
388). Although the outmodeled mimetic form “never has been enough, just as an object drawn on canvas or a cave wall is never simply mimetic” (Morrison, p.388) the narrative style is still an “important way to transmit and receive knowledge” (Morrison, p.
388). Applying the principles Morrison presents in her essay ” Memory, Creation, and Writing” to Gilman’s self-reflective story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, becomes obvious that these strategies are also used by other authors. The subjective character of Gilman’s writing is self-explanator3 due to the fact that this story seems to be taken from several journal entries. In this story, it is not the factual circumstances, which create meaning, but instead the feelings and impressions of the author. The very subjective, surreal imagery Gilman creates, due to the deranged state of mind she finds herself in, is what actuall captivates the reader and implies the subtext of a woman in desperate need of attention, who is trying to escape the situation she is in.
The specific milieu of this narrative is created very descriptively and emotionally-laden, when Gilman states that the wallpaper “is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough constantly to irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide-plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard-of contradictions”( Gilman, p.258). She continues, explaining that “the color is repellant, almost revolting: a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight. It is dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others” (Gilman, p.258).
Gilman’s use of Pathos as a rhetorical strategy, influences the reader in a way that the picture created is one of disgust and confusion. Within this quote, Gilman’s severe state of depression (and claustrophobia) become apparent. It is very interesting to analyze, how Gilman perceives her relationship to her husband. I believe she is in a state of self-denial, when she repeatedly describes his affection for her, mentioning that “he loves me her very dearly, and hates to have me sick” (Gilman, p.
259) and that “it is hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so wise, and because he loves me so” (Gilman, p.260). Through the eyes of Gilman, John her husband seems to be loving and caring, though incapable to really grasp the mental constitution his wife is in. When viewing their dialogues and interrelations more closely and “reading in between the lines”, it becomes obvious how dysfunctional their marriage is, and what patronizing attitude John has towards his wife. The repetitive statement that “John is kept in town now very often by serious cases” ( Gilman, p. 258) leads me to believe that her husband has an affair or just does not want to be close to his wife. This is where I would like to reincorporate Morrison’s argument, that writing can only be effective, if it urges the reader to “read in between the lines” and actively participate in giving the story meaning, instead of the distant acceptance of given circumstances.
Referring to the form of the essay, I think that the narrative style Gilman uses, works best to make the reader comprehend “the way it the situation/the wallpaper appeared, and why it appeared in that particular way” ( Morrison, p.385). It enables the reader to look at the continuously increasing development of her derangement and paranoid state of mind in a chronological fashion, which makes it easier for the reader to determine cause and effect.
In conclusion to my analysis, I would like to state that I found the principles of creative writing, as explained by Toni Morrison in “Memory, Creation, and Writing” to be very effective, especially having applied them to a piece of writing by a very different author. I found it particularly interesting to encounter Morrison’s outlook on the importance of memory, being interpreted as “willed creation”, rather than a recollection of factual information. It is this “willed creation” that actually forms the basis for “The Yellow Wallpaper” written by Charlotte Gilman, because it actually presents in a narrative diary-style, how Gilman in particular, views her situation as the woman, who is imprisoned and driven into insanity by gender- stereotypical norms.
I enjoyed this writing very much, especially because it questions any individuals notion of an objective reality and enables the reader to get an impression of how it feels like to be on the “verge of insanity”. Gilman effectively used the strategies explained by Toni Morrison to create a very personal, and extremely interesting story. Bibliography: 1. Toni Morrison, “Memory, Creation, and Writing”; published in “Thought”, 1984, New York 2. Charlotte Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper”; published in “Writing as ReVision”, Simon and Schuster Custom Publishing, 1996, Needham Hights, Ma.