Reading Responses – Early Feminism | Women & Mental Illness

 Questions “Declaration of Sentiments;” Beecher’s Treatise on Domestic Economy; Truth, “Ain’t I a Woman?”; Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death;” and Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” What are the most significant departures from the “Declaration of Independence” in the opening sections of the “Declaration of Sentiments”? While Jefferson’s document contains a whole series of sentences in which “he” refers to King George III, who is the “he” whose offenses are cited in the Declaration of Sentiments? How much difference does it make? Why does the “Declaration of Sentiments” place so much emphasis on the right to vote? Who could or could not vote in 1848? What other forms of equality were women demanding? What are Beecher’s thoughts on superiors and subordinates in families and societies in A Treatise on Domestic Economy? What is the source of her views? Explain her stance on voting rights for women. Given the two different version of Sojourner Truth’s speech, why do you think Frances Gage changed the language of the original speech? To what sources does Truth appeal to make her argument? In Dickinson’s poem, why is death personified as a gentleman suitor? Why is a carriage ride an appropriate metaphor for dying? What is the nature of the narrator’s illness in “The Yellow Wallpaper”? How does her physician husband propose to cure her? What kind of treatment does the narrator want? This cause-and-effect story is told from the narrator’s perspective. How does the absence of other perspectives affect the story’s tone? How might an omniscient narrator have brought a different–but perhaps less effective–perspective to the story?

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