1. Tomaz

    Tomaz New Member

    Dec 27, 2008
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    Ceredigion, Wales, UK

    The Bell Jar/Yellow Wallpaper Essay Topics - Help!

    Discussion in 'Discussion of Published Works' started by Tomaz, Apr 3, 2009.

    For my A-Level English coursework I need to produce a 2000 word essay which compares The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. The problem I’m having is that deciding on a topic is proving rather difficult. In last year’s AS equivalent coursework I got full marks and I’m quite anxious to gain a similar mark this year to keep my confidence high going into exams, so I think it’s really important that I pick the right topic to discuss.

    So if anyone who has read these two novels has any suggestions or advice, I’d be extremely grateful! The main sort of questions I had previously been considering were things such as “to what extent is madness a male-imposed illness in The Bell Jar and The Yellow Wallpaper?” - anything that studies Esther and John’s wife’s descent into madness, but lately I’ve started to feel that these are too mundane and unimaginative choices.

    It’s not that I don’t have my own ideas, but it’d be extremely useful to know what the main points of intrigue in these stories were to you guys. I need to get my creative juices going. Cheers! :)

    Edit - I should mention that the topic needs to accommodate close analysis of the texts, for this reason I quite like the idea of discussing metaphors as there are some incredible metaphors in both novels.
  2. Eoz Eanj

    Eoz Eanj Contributor Contributor

    Nov 11, 2006
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    I haven't read the Bell Jar, but I studied the Yellow Wallpaper in English Literature at Uni last year. Comparative essays are really .. ambiguous, because you could easily write a 2000 word essay focusing on any part of the text.

    I find a good place to start is to base your essay on understanding the way two different texts affect the audience through the literary devices they employ.. Basically you’re comparing what the two texts are ‘saying’ and ‘how’ and ‘what’ they’re communicating to the audience.

    It sounds rudimentary but in order to understand what a text is trying to say, you have to pull it apart and analyse it bit by bit.. this method isn’t only effective because it demonstrates that you have a high understanding of the function and purpose of the text(s) but it’s also pretty straight forward.

    Anyway, in specific reference to the Wallpaper, one of the main purposes of the text, I found, was to describe the awful repercussions of the way Post Natal depression was ‘treated’ 40/50 years ago through the main character- by describing the awful repercussions, the issue of the importance of the way mental disorders are treated is addressed and delivered to the audience. Therefore you could conclude that one interpretation/and/or purpose, of the Yellow Wallpaper was to address the importance of treating mental disorders.. you could then go to compare this to the Bell Jar which shares the same theme and uses the same device (ie: expression of issues through the main character).

    Goodluck with your essay, hope I may’ve been of some assistance.
  3. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Don't you think that selecting the focus of your essay is a critical part of the assignment, that the instructor wants you to apply your own analytical thought processes to this aspect?

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