Character Analysis In “The Yellow Paper” By Gilman Essay Example For College

The Yellow Paper is a short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and published in 1892. The text is written in the first person, and it reports the inexorable plunging of the narrator into dissociation and madness. The Yellow Paper lends itself to several interpretations, and it reflects the cultural and social milieu at the turn of the twentieth century. This paper analyzes the characters of the narrator and her husband, trying to frame them within the broader context of the coeval society, with the patriarchal hierarchy questioned by the rise of feminism. The traditional role of the obedient wife, mother, and homemaker did no longer match with the modern aspirations to self-realization. The concept of madness, hence, assumes a larger meaning, representing a social and cultural struggle.

The story develops in a summer estate, where the narrator and her husband, John, are spending their vacation. The woman suffers from nervous postpartum depression, and it happens that John is also her physician. He prescribes complete rest and refraining from any activity. John’s sister, Jennie, takes care of the house, and the protagonist is eventually forced to a life of confinement in the estate’s nursery. The narrator, however, feels that she would benefit from fresh air, as well as from physical and mental exercise. After a week, she manages to keep a secret diary, and her notes accompany the reader along the path of her madness as she develops an obsession for the yellow paper and spends more and more time looking at the flamboyant patterns on it.

As weeks go by, the narrator plunges deeper into her obsession while a sub-patterns emerges from the wallpaper revealing a woman trapped behind: “by daylight she is subdued, quiet” (Perkins Gilman 6) but she struggles to come out from the wall at night. The protagonist feels that she has to free the woman, and even identifies with her while becoming dissociated from reality. The night before the departure, she tries to destroy the yellow wallpaper, biting, tearing, and scratching it in a desperate attempt to save the woman inside it. When the day after John manages to enter the locked room and understands that his wife has gone insane, he faints.

Though the short story has a scary Gothic side, it should be read as a social feminist stance against the American patriarchal society during the second half of the nineteenth century. The protagonist is trapped between the call for modernity advocated by the rise of feminism and a male-ruled social structure, where women had to adhere to a set ideal of femininity (Amro 1). The protagonist is an active and young woman forced into inactivity and segregated in a claustrophobic context. She is inevitably bound to wither, cornered by the annoying doing good of the husband and the constant reminder, provided by Jennie, of how a woman should behave.

John, in turn, represents the male part of society, and carries all the typical prejudgments of his time: women should devote their lives to domestic mansions, take care of the house and raise the children. John is a physician, and his paternalistic condescension toward his wife is a harsh criticism of the coeval scientific mainstream, which considered women as naturally inclined to suffer from nervous breakdowns (Amro 1). Moreover, his attentions make his wife feeling guilty: “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction. I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day[…] I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more” (Perkins Gilman 2). From this perspective, madness becomes an escape from the daily conflict between the attempt of adhering to a set role and the desire for self-development, self-realization, and self-determination. It is the latest way of rebellion against a society where women no longer fit.

Published at the end of the nineteenth century, the Yellow Paper is a short story that revolves around a young woman suffering from nervous depression. The condition, however, grows an obsession with the wallpaper of the bedroom where she is regaining her strength. She becomes convinced that a woman is trapped behind the paper, and, eventually, she tries to destroy the paper in an attempt to rescue her. Despite the Gothic atmosphere, the Yellow Paper aims at highlighting the social unease of women, struggling to emancipate from the set role of mother and housewife. In some desperate case, madness is the only escape route.

Works Cited

Amro, Hiba. “A Breakdown or a Breakthrough?: “Madness” in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Doris Lessing’s “To Room Nineteen,” and Khairiya Saqqaf’s “In a Contemporary House”” International Journal of Language and Literature, vol.6, no 2, 2018, pp. 146-156. Web.

Perkins Gilman, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper. 1892. Web.

Critical Thinking For Homeland Security

People’s interactions with each other and the world are founded on their ability to think. Critical reasoning is another unique skill of living beings that allows them to form and present their opinions and converse with others to make decisions. Thus, it is vital to understand what factors contribute to the development of one’s critical thinking and how they may help one discuss complex questions.

The first possible framework for addressing the concepts of argumentation was designed by Paul and Elder (2006) who introduced eight elements of thought as the basis for every statement. Another approach suggests for people ask the right questions when considering an issue (Stanlick & Strawser, 2015). These ideas can be similar to each other because they have a similar aim – uncovering hidden or lacking information in arguments. Their comparison, however, may show that the integration of the two approaches into one can guide their users to the most thought-out conclusions.

Elements of Thought

The complete theory by Paul and Elder consist of three parts, the elements of thought being a set of actions that develop one’s critical thinking. These elements are: “purpose, question at issue, information, interpretation and interference, concepts, assumptions, implications and consequences, and point of view” (Paul & Elder, 2006, p. 5). An argument, according to the authors, has to account for all of these aspects to be decisive. Therefore, when questioning a subject, a person can rely on these elements as a guide to assessing the quality of one’s logic.

The result of using this framework yields several questions about the issue at hand. For example, the element of purpose implies that all reasoning must have an aim that it hopes to achieve. The question “Why is this subject discussed?” can help one to reveal the underlying problems or see the root of the argument. Other elements provide people with similar questions, creating a specific path for examining logical conclusions.

Right Questions

The concept of “right questions” suggests that to critically evaluate an argument, one has to know which inquiries will gather the most vital information about a subject. Browne and Keeley (2015) provide such questions as “What are the reasons?” and “What are the descriptive assumptions?” as good examples. Here, one can see that the intention is to discover more details about an argument, approaching it from different sides and attempting to deconstruct each presented idea or fact. The right questions should show what seems to be correct or erroneous, and what pieces of knowledge are missing from one’s view. The strategy of asking certain questions is helpful, and research demonstrates that the ability to pose questions correctly leads to an in-depth investigation into problems (Yildirim & Soylemez, 2018). Thus, the strategy of asking the right questions has a role in enhancing one’s reasoning skills.

Comparison and Integration

The description of each approach shows that the elements of thought and right questions have many similarities. First of all, their purpose is identical – to help a person to understand not only the contents of an argument but also its subtext. The approaches are focused on the weaknesses of reasoning, looking at its different sides. However, one may see that the strategy introduced by Paul and Elder (2006) is structured, presenting eight distinct categories that should be addressed. In contrast, the idea of right questions is less explicit since it is not clear which question can or cannot be considered “right.” As Hanscomb (2017) notes, the quality of chosen questions may determine how well one examines an issue. Therefore, the lack of clarity in discussing the right questions weakens their reliability in critical thinking.

It is possible, however, to integrate both strategies into one’s knowledge and extract the best qualities from them. Paul and Elder’s elements of thought offer a structure with the help of which each argument can be reviewed. Using these elements as steps in investigating a problem, a person will not forget about the key questions that have to be considered. At the same time, the elements by themselves do not contain inquiries but guide one to develop the right questions. The result of this combination is a system for effective critical thinking. First, an individual remembers all eight elements in the correct order. Then, each element is used as a foundation for insightful questions. In that way, people can not only explore the ideas of others but also construct their own opinions acknowledging all potential weaknesses in advance.

Conclusion

The skill of critical thinking is helpful in all areas of people’s lives. The approaches to investigating arguments may benefit from having a solid structure, providing people with a system that is easy to use and follow. Thus, the framework of the elements of thought can be a solution to approaching analytical reasoning. It assists people by separating all information about an issue into eight segments that can be questioned further. Here, the idea of asking the right questions is presented since these inquiries do not appear without one’s understanding of what should be put under scrutiny. All in all, the “elements of thought” can be viewed as a general approach to critical thinking whereas the “right questions” is an outcome of knowing how to examine an argument.

References

Browne, M. N., & Keeley, S.M. (2015). Asking the right questions: A guide to critical thinking (11th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Hanscomb, S. (2017). Critical thinking: The basics. New York, NY: Routledge.

Paul, R. and Elder, L. (2006). The miniature guide to critical thinking concepts and tools. Web.

Stanlick, N. A., & Strawser, M. J. (2015). Asking good questions: Case studies in ethics and critical thinking. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing.

Yildirim, S., & Soylemez, Y. (2018). The effect of performing reading activities with critical reading questions on critical thinking and reading skills. Asian Journal of Education and Training, 4(4), 326-335.

The Seven Soliloquies Of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

In total, there are 7 soliloquies in Hamlet. Soliloquies help reveal his personality and state of mind. This analysis presents all of Hamlet’s seven soliloquies in order with explanations.

“The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark” is among William Shakespeare’s most famous works. The play is centered around the titular character, who discovers treachery upon his return home and swears revenge, claiming his life along with those of the offenders. Therefore, Hamlet’s seven soliloquies are an essential feature of the work, as they illustrate his character and motivations and serve as pivotal moments in which critical decisions are made. All monologues are unified in their dark tone, but they represent the progression of Hamlet’s character as he gathers the resolve to oppose Claudius and realizes that his vengeance must be violent. The soliloquies advance the story by showing Hamlet’s doubts and weaknesses as well as how he overcomes them.

The First Monologue

As Hamlet returns home for his father’s funeral, he finds the situation dramatically different from his expectations, and not for the better. Only a month has passed since the old King’s death, but his mother is already married to the prince’s uncle. Hamlet has a low opinion of the man, calling him “My father’s brother, but no more like my father / Than I to Hercules” (“The Tragedy of Hamlet”). However, his primary issue lies with his mother’s behavior, who did not mourn for long before remarrying. At this point, Hamlet does not suspect anything is amiss regarding the King’s death and simply grieves for his father, whom he greatly admires. He concludes by lamenting his powerlessness in affecting his mother’s poor decisions.

The Second Monologue

Hamlet’s second soliloquy occurs immediately after his conversation with his father’s ghost. The prince is enraged by the revelation, swearing revenge on the spot and denouncing his other aspirations. He does not doubt the spirit’s words, most likely because of his already low estimation of his mother and uncle. Hamlet’s love for his father takes precedence, and with youthful hot-headedness, he invokes heaven and hell in an oath of vengeance. It is possible that Hamlet was harboring suspicions due to his mother’s behavior. The ghost’s appearance, which looks exactly like the late King, thus provides him a symbol to concentrate his disquiet. It would be possible to explain the apparition as a hallucination that appeared due to the prince’s mental state without others’ awareness of it.

The Third Monologue

During the third instance of self-reflection, Hamlet has had time to calm down and look at his situation again. He decides to test the ghost’s words and arranges a play reminiscent of the supposed murder to be played before Claudius. The encounter with the player makes him reminisce on his supposed cold-heartedness. The actor can fake spectacular displays of emotion, “Yet I, / A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak, / Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause, / And can say nothing” (“The Tragedy of Hamlet”). He wonders whether he is a coward because he did not immediately confront his uncle and kill him. Recovering from his lapse, the prince declares his plan to observe Claudius’s reaction to the play and use it to confirm the truth.

The Fourth Monologue

While Hamlet makes his preparations, he affects a madness-stricken persona. The double existence takes a toll on him, and he begins contemplating suicide once again. In this famous passage, the prince reflects on death as a desirable end to the struggles of existence. He wonders: “For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, […] When he himself might his quietus make / With a bare bodkin?” (“The Tragedy of Hamlet”). Hamlet answers that humans fear that death may not be the end of existence, worrying that the unknown beyond may be worse than their current hardships. He concludes that “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all” (“The Tragedy of Hamlet”). Hamlet chooses to live on, perhaps because he sees his father’s fate and does not wish to share it.

The Fifth Monologue

The prince’s mother calls upon him for a private conversation as other castle inhabitants grow more concerned about his behavior. Convinced by Claudius’s evil, the protagonist asks for some time to prepare. He bears her little more goodwill than he does his uncle, but the ghost requests that Hamlet does not try to harm Gertrude, and he intends to honor the late King’s will. However, as the prince puts it, “now could I drink hot blood, / And do such bitter business as the day / Would quake to look on” (“The Tragedy of Hamlet”). He uses the time spent alone to calm down and resolves to condemn his mother with words instead of acting on his impulses, though the situation turns to bloodshed.

The Sixth Monologue

On his way to Gertrude’s chamber, Hamlet notices Claudius, who is absorbed in prayer and presents an excellent target for the prince’s sword. He is tempted to enact his revenge there and then, but the religious significance of the act causes him to reconsider. As Hamlet says, “A villain kills my father; and for that, / I, his sole son, do this same villain send / To heaven.” (“The Tragedy of Hamlet”). In the protagonist’s mind, the traitor deserves an ignoble end that denies salvation to the man. The scene is ironic, as Claudius does not believe his prayer is genuine. This soliloquy serves to display Hamlet’s somewhat idealistic conceptions and his transition from rage and instability to a more passive attitude.

The Seventh Monologue

Hamlet’s final instance of self-reflection occurs after his exile to England when he encounters Prince Fortinbras’s army. Numerous men go to die for a worthless patch of land, yet Hamlet cannot exact righteous revenge with all the time and opportunities he has had. He describes his thoughts on the act as “but one part wisdom / And ever three parts coward” (“The Tragedy of Hamlet”). As seen in the soliloquies before this one, Hamlet tends to wait and reflect instead of acting, always finding some reason to delay Claudius’s death. The prince denounces this trait and vows that, from that point, his thoughts will exclusively be violent, spurring on the lethal finale.

Conclusion

Hamlet’s monologues are primarily meant to expose his character and state of mind. Most of them also serve as pivotal points for the story, where he makes decisions that affect the entirety of the plot from that point onward. The prince ponders on the hardships of existence, contemplates death, both his own and that of his uncle, and berates himself for cowardice. His mood oscillates, beginning with violence, then becoming calmer and darker, and finally flaring up again in the final monologue. They reveal Hamlet as a reflective thinker who spends more time in reflection than in action. At the same time, he is idealistic and sometimes impulsive, and at times, he has to keep his anger in check consciously. The contradictory nature of Hamlet’s character lends depth to himself and the conflict of his story.

Work Cited

“The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.” MIT, Web.

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