Summary: This week we read the short story The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the Vanity Fair article Rethinking the American Dream by David Kamp and the short story Thank You M’am by Langston Hughes. These three pieces of writing all had the common theme of tackling with expectation versus reality and the way our perceptions of ourselves and others can fail us.
Abstract: I was intrigued by the combination of this week’s readings. I could appreciate each one for the individual themes and notions they raised, but only until reading Thank You M’am by Langston Hughes could I string the three together cohesively and reflect on the ideas they shared. What stood out to me in all three pieces was the ways we deal with expectation versus reality, but the reading that intrigued me the most with this theme was The Yellow Wallpaper.
The Yellow Wallpaper expresses the difference between expectation and reality by Gilman intentionally drawing the reader in by giving them false expectations of the context of the story. While it is made clear rather soon that everything is not as it seems, the way the beginning of the story is presented suggests a sense of normalcy and primness that is soon disbanded. The intentional use of polarizing the differences in expectations and realities of the context helps the reader delve into the world of this story and understand the way the characters deal with the conflict of expectations and realities. With the wife in the yellow room, we see conflict with the way she is confined to a reality that makes her create expectations that soon becomes her new reality, or the reality she buys into. With a husband (or possibly the doctor, depending on interpretation) that dismisses her symptoms or feelings that are related to this illness that debilitates her, the reality she is surrounded by does not present much hope. Trapped in a room with unsettling wallpaper, nothing to do, and without the trust of a husband, it is clear...
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