Lesson Plan

Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wall-paper"—Writing Women

The Yellow Wall Paper by Charlotte Perkins
Photo caption

The Yellow Wall Paper by Charlotte Perkins

"For many years I suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending to melancholia—and beyond. During about the third year of this trouble I went, in devout faith and some faint stir of hope, to a noted specialist in nervous diseases, the best known in the country. This wise man put me to bed and applied the rest cure, to which a still good physique responded so promptly that he concluded that there was nothing much the matter with me, and sent me home with solemn advice to 'live as domestic a life as possible,' to 'have but two hours' intelligent life a day,' and 'never to touch pen, brush or pencil again as long as I lived.' This was in 1887…"

—Charlotte Perkins Gilman, "Why I Wrote the Yellow Wall-paper," 1913

This lesson plan, the second part of a two-part lesson, should be completed after students examine and understand the historical, social, cultural, and economic context of Gilman's story in Lesson One. This lesson requires a close reading of "The Yellow Wall-paper" itself within the context of students' research and analysis in the first part of the full lesson. This lesson is also suitable as a stand-alone lesson plan focusing on a close reading of Gilman's story, exploring such literary concepts as setting, narrative style, symbol, and characterization.

Guiding Questions

What does Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story "The Yellow Wall-paper" suggest about middle-class women's place and role(s) in this society?

Learning Objectives

Identify and apply literary devices such as setting, narrative style, symbol, and characterization.

Analyze historical context with regard to changing roles of American women in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Evaluate the following claim: "The narrator of "The Yellow Wall-paper" represents Gilman's feminism."