D. Vilhotti

ENG 101, Section 013

October 26, 2007


Homework for Monday’s Interpretive Communities Challenge

Worth: Two Quiz Grades




Group 1: Lucas, Tiffany, Victoria, Melissa, Brittney

Formalist reading (looking within the text for meaning; to support a claim)

The “Yellow Wallpaper” can be read as a text that deals with the theme of female confinement and escape.


Group 2: Jay Hollis, David, Lauren Jackson, Cameron, Cayla

Intentionalist reading (in this case, psychological reading of the author in comparison with the text)

The “Yellow Wallpaper” can be read as a fictionalized account of (or compared and contrasted to) Charlotte Gilman Perkin’s own experiences with mental insanity.


Group 3: Kelsey, Sally, Lauren, Dusty, Byron, Jay Smith

Mimetic reading (in this case, searching the text to support claims about the “reality” of a represented situation or event)

The nervous breakdown in “Yellow Wallpaper” can be viewed as the end result of a trajectory of years of suppressed rage on the part of the narrator.  (Alternative views to consider: post-partum depression, general depression, or any of the mental illnesses we now know of; briefest research regarding definitions and examples may be required to support your claims).



Group 4: Claire, Nichole, Andrew, Will, Meg, Laura

Pragmatic reading (in this case, a look at the text in its broader societal/historical context; the intent to prove the author’s direct interaction with contemporary events may or may not be necessary in this type of pragmatic reading)

The events in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” including but not exclusive to the narrator’s breakdown, can be said to reflect the conflict in the larger societal role of being both wife and mother at the time it was written.  Specifically, the events and overall treatment in the story comment on Charles Darwin’s contemporary (1892) book, The Origin of the Species, which prompted the debate among social scientists that because women may be the heartier of the two sexes, they are capable of playing multiple roles.  (Alternatively, the story may be said to comment on Sigmund Freud’s concept that female depression is a form of “hysteria.”)