How would one start a literary analysis of "The Yellow Wallpaper?"

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cathibee | College Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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Before you start a literary analysis, a good first step is to determine what you think the author is trying to say in the piece. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” what is the message Gilman wants to give her readers? What is she saying about women, men, and their relationship with each other?

When you have your central idea, the next step is to determine how the Gilman accomplishes this. What elements does she use to arrive at her conclusion? How does the main character’s madness develop? What effect does this have on her relationship with her husband? What does this mean for Gilman’s views on the relationships between men and women?

Finally, what happens at the end of the story? Is there any symbolism you can identify here? What is the symbolism of things like the yellow wallpaper and the room in which the main character ends up spending all her time?

In this way, you can use elements like symbolism, character development, and social commentary as a starting point for your discussion of this story.



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