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Reading Analytically

10.4.3 An Analysis of Texts

Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” explores a new mother’s descent into post-partum depression. It was a frank, honest look into the struggles of mental illness in a time when post-partum depression was poorly understood even by a respected doctor which the woman’s husband happens to be.

The story provides readers a glimpse into a poorly understood struggle, and it is told in part because the author believes the lack of understanding of post-partum depression is dangerous for women. In this assignment, you will learn more about that experience and, depending on your instructor, may choose to write an essay about the subject matter. In either respect, reading leads to better writing, and by simply reading and responding to the questions below, you will be much more prepared to write should you need to do so.

So, complete the following for this exercise:

  1. Read “The Yellow Wallpaper”
  2. Read “Why I Wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”
  3. Research “Symptoms of post-partum depression” using a simple Google search. Look for .gov and .org websites to assure some level of reliability.
  4. In a journal entry, address the following questions:
    1. What symptoms of post-partum depression does the narrator present based on your research on the subject?
    2. What was Gilman’s purpose in writing “The Yellow Wallpaper?”
    3. Analysis and exposition in an essay are never complete until the writer presents an action. What actions should result given what you have learned about post-partum depression? Who institutions, attitudes, or policies should change as a result of this knowledge? What might you change in your life in terms of understanding this condition?

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Expression and Inquiry by Christopher Manning; Sally Pierce; and Melissa Lucken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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