Hi everyone! Sorry I wasn’t in class today. I’m attempting to battle off a cold =(. Anyways, so I guess this is blog numero duex concerning whether a Marxist or Feminist approach would be more valid for me in reading “I Stand here Ironing” and “The Yellow Wallpaper”.

Honestly, and I’ve said this a few times to people in class, that I strongly feel as if the ideologies of Marxism and Feminism sort of merge in a few places. This is because I feel like there is not only just a class system in society, but in gender as well – which to me is more noticeable because there is only male and female. Well … sometimes male AND female, but I wont get too deep into a discussion about that one.

In Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing” themes of both Marxism and Feminism are very prominent. So much so that while I was attempting to read from a Marxist perspective I often paused and discovered I was reading too much into a Feminist perspective. Personally, however, I think that a Feminist approach is most valid for myself and my mindset – being a woman. While many institutions have been implemented in order to aid women in a like situation of Emily’s mother in ISHI (sorry, I’m abbreviating), unfortunately a lot of women still suffer in very much the same way. Raising a child alone, on poor wages, etc. etc. It’s a hard thing to look away from. On the other hand though, much of her suffering had to do with where she was in society, rather than the fact that she was a women. During the Depression of the 1930’s men and women alike suffered very similarly. While it could be argued that women, always being placed second rate next to a man, had a much more difficult time (i.e. lower wages than even a man received) one cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that men suffered as well. ISHR shows very clearly how society was failing to help so many people in need, while the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Or died. And it wasn’t until the mid-thirties that relief programs were founded in an attempt to get people jobs.

In “The Yellow Wallpaper” I would have to say I would take a more Feminist approach of reading the story. The man, John, is very much in control of the woman’s life and situation throughout the story. But don’t forget you need to look at that as unbiased as possible. That was how men and women lived together during that time period, where the man would control .. well .. pretty much everything and the woman was to be a home-maker, squeeze out a few children and look pretty and that was it. However, situations like that these days get the feminists roaring. It’s difficult NOT to look at this story from a Feminist perspective. She is obviously ill and all he does is attempt to shut her in from the world. John claims it would be better for her health to get some fresh air and relaxation, but personally I think he’s just trying to hide her because he’s embarrassed, or that her condition may tarnish his own reputation because he’s a physician and can’t cure her. They obviously can’t take her out in public so they lock her away in this house and she eventually just loses her mind completely over this wallpaper. Attempting to free herself from the cage of not only her husband but her mind itself. She was trapped in every way imaginable.


6 Responses to “I Stand Here Ironing/The Yellow Wallpaper”

  1. 1 makeupmaggie
    October 18, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Hi Erika,
    For the story “I Stand Here Ironing” I see how you have merged the two perspectives Feminist and Marxist. One sort of leading into the other. Interesting that you chose the Feminist perspective to be more of the valid perspective for this story. It’s the opposite to what I wrote for my blog but I can see where you are comming from.
    I too chose the feminist approach for “The Yellow Wall Paper..I think most people would.
    Great writing, great blog!

  2. October 18, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    Hi Erika!
    I hope you’re feeling better soon..having a cold sucks almost as much as ironing! 🙂

    Anyway, I just typed a lovely long response to your blog but because I hadn’t filled out my name, mailing address and website, it disappeared! I tried to ‘go back’ and even ‘refresh’ but my long reply was gone! So, I’m keeping it short this time.
    Basically, I understand your feelings about Olsen’s story being more Feminist, but I myself found it more Marxist. The second one we both agree fully on. I esp. loved when you commented on how the character felt..”Attempting to free herself from the cage of not only her husband but her mind itself. She was trapped in every way imaginable.”
    Well said! Also, I didn’t believe her husband was really looking out for her best interest either. I wondered if he was busy having an affair because he was absent a lot and near the end spent more and more time away from her. Hmmn. Really concerned about your wife there doc.
    Anyway, get well soon Erika. And here’s a lil tip: don’t stare at your bedroom walls too long. 😉

  3. 3 dazzle2
    October 19, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Hi! Erika
    I finally found out how to respond to blogs Well I Think I have – let me know.As Catherine and Maggie have replied to your lenthy and very insightful blog, it was interesting that you leaned more to the marxist theory for ISHI.To date we have all agreed about ” The Yellow Wallpaper ” but it would be great if someone actually dsagreed with us. What do you think? I was trying to but couldn’t justify a change from my original stance.
    Hope you are feeling better.

  4. 4 clove2learn
    October 20, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Great job, Erika — I agree with the blending of feminism and marxism in “I Stand Here Ironing.” Your take is along the same lines as mine…I just need to learn to shorten my blogs!! As for “The Yellow Wall-Paper” feminist criticism is the only one I would go with as well — and like you mentioned, this is the 19th century, during which men controlled everything and the “woman was to be a home-maker, squeeze out a few children and look pretty and that was it.” I keep wondering if the yellow wallpaper was some kind of mold that caused her to hallucinate…lol.
    Hope you’re feeling better, BTW — you did a great job, nevertheless! And, sorry for the late response…rough weekend…

  5. 5 shadow555
    October 21, 2008 at 11:54 pm

    Hi Erika,
    I think it was precisely the “relief programs” that forced the women to work for low wages while having to give up their children to government run institutions. The poor were certainly not benefiting from the capitalist system.
    Did the government not know what was going on in those institutions? Why were the parents not allowed to really visit their children? Why were the children not allowed to keep the letters? What about the food? No-one was advocating for the children or the mothers. I would think that even the elite society trusted that the government was looking after the poor and even supported the system by raising money to help the institutionalized children. If the mothers were not sent off to work, the children would not have suffered the separation and the physical and mental damage that they did. The families trusted the government was going to help them and their family but the government betrayed them. A Marxist reading of the story points out these types of injustices imposed by the very system that were deemed to be “relief programs”.
    What do you think?

  6. 6 danz28
    October 22, 2008 at 2:44 am

    Hi Erika

    I also chose the Feminist perspective for “The Yellow Wallpaper”. I think you bring up some interesting points regarding the husbands motivation in “The Yellow Wallpaper”. But I have to disagree with your theory, the treatment that the husband was giving her was not uncommon at that time, in fact the author based the story from her own experience from a treatment given to her from her doctor.

    Great job!

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