What would be a good introduction for an essay on "The Yellow Wallpaper"?

Quick answer:

A good introduction will begin with a hook related to one's essay topic. A brief summary of the text, relevant details regarding the cultural context of the story, or even a description of the writer's own life, especially for this story, are also appropriate. A "road map" comprised of two or three sentences that refer to the forthcoming topic sentences and main pieces of evidence should be included. The thesis statement should be the final sentence of the introduction and ought to consist of a claim.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

A good introductory paragraph ought to establish the topic of the essay, setting up the main argument or claim, and it should provide a sort of road map of the essay, referencing the two or three reasons or ways you have to support your claim. It is also a good idea to begin with a "hook" of some sort, an interesting fact or quotation or a provocative question designed to catch the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading.

Since the narrator/protagonist seems to be suffering from postpartum depression, a condition that affects some women who have just had a baby (as she has), you might consider "hooking" your audience with the fact that postpartum depression was not even a scientific diagnosis until the twenty-first century, for example. Women before that time had no idea what was happening to them. Many likely felt that there was something wrong with them as women and as mothers, as the narrator does. However, such a hook would only really be appropriate if this topic were going to come up again in your essay. Generally, you should begin with a hook which you then relate to your general topic.

Next, you can briefly summarize the story or even provide a little background information on the cultural context or the author's own life, which in this case bears a striking similarity with the narrator's. Construct the road map, which ought to refer to the topic sentences of your body paragraphs, and then finish the paragraph with your thesis: some claim that expresses an opinion about the text—such as that it is dangerous to deny women the right to participate in their own treatment plans—that you can defend with evidence (i.e. quotations).

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How can I write an introduction to a paper on "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman?

Anytime you are introducing an essay, you are introducing an argument for your reader. The best thing is to consider your audience and make a plan—think about what you would have to say to someone who has no understanding of your topic, and give enough information for the reader to understand your thesis.

Your thesis is your main argument, and whatever your argument is for Gilman's story, it's sure to have some ideas present in it that your reader would be unfamiliar with. In the introduction, you need to explain those particulars to the audience without sounding conversational.

The first thing to do when writing any paper is to settle on a thesis, a main argument. For our purposes, I'll create one:

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" qualifies as feminist literature because the story explores the challenges of being a woman in the nineteenth century.

Just looking at that thesis, an ignorant reader would most likely need to be introduced to what feminist literature is, what women faced as obstacles in the nineteenth century, and maybe even some information on Gilman's life and experiences. Once you have a list of things to explain in your introduction, you'll want to begin your paragraph with an interesting opener such as:

After exhibiting some symptoms of what we would now call postpartum depression, Charlotte Perkins Gilman was put on a type of extreme bedrest, and her experience during this harrowing time inspired her to write what would become the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper."

From there, you'll want to continue to explain the things your reader needs to know to understand your thesis. Try to come up with at least three sentences that explain your thesis ideas, and then put the thesis toward the end of the paragraph, usually as the last or second to last sentence. Here is an example of what an introductory paragraph might look like if you follow these instructions:

After exhibiting some symptoms of what we would now call postpartum depression, Charlotte Perkins Gilman was put on a type of extreme bedrest, and her experience during this harrowing time inspired her to write what would become the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper." The protagonist of the story experiences the same treatment after having a child, and the male characters, her husband and doctor, continuously isolate and belittle her as she wrestles with her sanity. "Rest cures" were a common practice to treat women in the nineteenth century, but Gilman's story reveals how the isolation and idleness actually worsens symptoms of depression and anxiety. None of the male characters are open to the protagonist's point of view, which sets the conflict in a male versus female structure. Eventually, insanity becomes the protagonist's only escape from the rigidity of the male hierarchy that is causing her suffering. Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" qualifies as feminist literature because the story explores the challenges of being a woman in nineteenth century.

To simplify, follow these steps:

  1. Create your thesis.
  2. Consider what your audience needs to know to understand your thesis.
  3. Write an engaging opening sentence.
  4. Provide all necessary information to introduce the thesis.
  5. Include the thesis at the end of the paragraph.

Then continue into your body paragraphs, further explaining and proving the thesis to be correct.

Last Updated on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

How can I write an introduction to a paper on "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman?

At eNotes we offer an awesome Essay Lab that can further assist you with writing prompts and other goodies. 

Depending on your central idea, the introduction of any essay related to a work of literature must state, at the very start, exactly what your topic statement is.

In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” there are many significant themes that often come up as topics of conversation, and as prompts to expand upon in writing. One of the most salient themes is postpartum depression and its effects on the main character. Another topic is how the male-dominated society of the time remained oblivious to the true needs of women in nearly every dimension, from the health industry to the marital bed.

If you decided already your main argument, be sure to write it at the start of the paragraph, and back it up with at least 3 supporting statements that will add not just evidence, but rationale, to that statement.  An example of an introductory paragraph on the topic of marital neglect in Gilman’s society would look something like this.

In “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the main character is a victim of marital neglect; this is evidence of the social mindset of the time. (Support statement 1)- The unnamed main character, who clearly suffers from postpartum depression, is put in isolation by her husband and her doctor, both males, in a time when she needs more family and moral support than ever. (Support statement 2) Her symptoms are taken for granted by her husband, who lacks overall knowledge about the needs his wife.(Support statement 3)  Moreover, his solution to the problem is to “put her away” rather help her in any way he can. (Concluding statement) This shows that social mindset of the time did not include the moral and emotional support of women, even during a time as delicate as post-pregnancy.   

Once that introductory paragraph is completed, you will dedicate the body of the essay to expand upon the three supporting statements, which will help you back up your thesis even more. Do not forget to close the essay with a concluding paragraph that essentially, once again, supports your introduction. This will make your essay come to a full circle.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Last Updated on