In order to create a successful research outline, it’s important to know what area of focus within “The Yellow Wallpaper ” would be most interesting for you to research. Start by asking yourself what the most curious, strange, or compelling elements of the text are and how those elements...
In order to create a successful research outline, it’s important to know what area of focus within “The Yellow Wallpaper” would be most interesting for you to research. Start by asking yourself what the most curious, strange, or compelling elements of the text are and how those elements can tie back to the piece’s larger themes. Once you’ve picked up on a thread that particularly interests you, you can create your thesis. For example, “Because [event/interaction/description] occurs in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” readers are led to believe that [your argument/research topic].”
Once you’ve determined what you want your thesis to be, you can arrange your outline in terms of the evidence you’ll find to defend it. Some teachers prefer you to work within the five-paragraph structure, where your introduction is followed by three well-rounded paragraphs which each address an element of your thesis through research and your own thoughts on the critical conversation taking place. You’ll then wrap up your conversation about your thesis in your conclusion, restating your thesis and making its relationship to the research you’ve done clear.
Consider, in moving forward, the environments in which the narrator finds herself throughout “The Yellow Wallpaper.” How is the home she and her husband move into different from the ones she may have lived in before, and how does the room she is eventually confined to differ further? Why do you think she is exposed to this difference by both her husband and several medical professionals?
In terms of evidence, take a look at how the narrator describes the broader house toward the beginning of the story:
It was very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer. A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity—but that would be asking too much of fate!
Not only is this environment unfamiliar to the narrator, but it seems to be a home that elevates her in terms of her social and economic class. From here, take a look at her descriptions of the room she gets placed into, including this one:
It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with windows that look all the ways and air and sunshine galore. It was a nursery first and then a playroom and gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls.
This quote continues with its description of the room and offers interesting parallels between the narrator, a grown woman who has just had a child, and the children who seem to have once inhabited her new room. For your thesis and research, consider this connection between women and children and how both groups can be seen by men like the narrator’s husband or her physicians as similar.
Alternatively, how does Perkins Gilman make use of elements of the gothic genre in order to make this story more compelling? Could “The Yellow Wallpaper” even be considered a part of the gothic genre, based on textual evidence? Exploring genre will enable you to do a little more outside research, which may allow you to meet any bibliography requirements that this assignment has in place.
First and foremost, though, before you do any of your preliminary research, you're going to want to choose what topic you want to write on based on how interesting you think the research process will be and how much conversation exists about it already.