資料彙整   /   作家  /  Charlotte Perkins  Gilman  夏洛特.帕金斯.吉爾曼
Charlotte Perkins  Gilman
夏洛特.帕金斯.吉爾曼
圖片來源:www.learner.org/amerpass/ unit06/authors-5.html
主要文類:Novel
資料提供者:Ron Tranquilla;Julia Hsieh/謝佩璇
關鍵字詞:19th Century American Female Writers

夏洛特.帕金斯.吉爾曼


一 八六0 - 一九三五

Julia Hsieh/謝佩璇
 
 生平簡介
 她的著名代表作品
 

 生平簡介

夏洛特.帕金斯.吉爾曼為萊門與羅莎娜.碧綺兒的曾孫女、瑪莉.碧綺兒與湯瑪士.帕金斯的孫女。身為知名的碧綺兒家族後代,在不同的領域之中有傑出的表現的碧綺兒家族成功聲望背後,吉爾曼卻有著不愉快的童年。但也因為勢力龐大的家族中,在文學、藝術、法律上的成就,吉爾曼的教育受到不少啟示,成就她文藝造詣上的出眾表現。

一、教育及成長背景

當菲德列克.碧綺兒.帕金斯走出與遠房表親瑪莉.衛斯考的婚姻,留下的兩名子女:夏洛特與湯瑪斯和母親便開始遊牧般的困窘生活。菲德列克.帕金斯為圖書館長與研究者,在帕金斯家兩兄妹的成長背景中,他幾乎沒有參與任何重要事件,給予家庭的經濟、情感支持也十分微薄。生於一八六○年七月三日,夏洛特.安娜.帕金斯出生在一個沒有安定性的家庭。帕金斯太太十分保護小孩,教導孩子理智而規律的生活,要求他們不要經歷太多的情緒反應。家中的經濟環境十分有限,一直到吉爾曼青少女期獲得繼承財產,才得到較多的經濟資助,進入較好的教育環境就讀,也是在這私立的中學裡,她學習發展演說技巧與藝術技術。

身為創造力十足的碧綺兒家族成員,吉爾曼的藝術天分讓她年紀輕輕便開始藝術創作,並獲得進入羅德島設計學院就讀的機會。她在那裡結識年輕藝術家華特.史戴森,並在一八八四年與其共組家庭。與史戴森所生的女兒凱薩琳出生之後,吉爾曼並沒有因此滿心歡喜的迎接新家庭。相反的,她因為產後憂鬱而近乎崩潰。為了得到較佳的健康與精神休養環境,她在加州的帕沙迪那的好友葛蕾絲.上寧同住,並接受衛爾。米契爾醫生的「休息療法」,也就在此同時,吉爾曼因自身經驗而著手撰寫著名的「黃色壁紙」。

吉爾曼相信令人窒息的家內生活,與社會傳統對女性為人妻為人母的期望,正是她瀕臨崩潰的原因所在。吉爾曼與華特的婚姻在一八九○年代,因為兩人眾多歧異的觀念而漸漸瓦解,在彼此同意友好的意志下,史戴森不久後與吉爾曼的好友上寧結為連理。吉爾曼日後在作品中透露自己矛盾而心痛的情緒,忍痛將女兒凱薩琳交付史戴森的新家庭撫養,因為她不願意自己的孩子和她一樣,在缺少父親的環境中長大。此後,她熱衷積極的寫作並出版她的作品、在各大社會集會中宣達促進社會福利、婦女權力等相關議題,也因此結識她第二段婚姻的丈夫,與支持她從事女權運動的遠房表親喬治.修頓.吉爾曼共度餘生。

一八九○年吉爾曼以史戴森夫人的身分發表作品。《國家主意份子》雜誌發表她的第一首詩「相同的遭遇」,致使她的才能很快的受矚目。《亞特蘭大月刊》的名編輯威廉.迪恩.侯威爾斯高度肯定她的詩作,也鼓勵她繼續發表佳作。她因此隨後投稿「黃色壁紙」一文,卻被退稿,原因是:「黃色壁紙」「好得過火、真實嚴肅得過分」,因此幾經協調、投稿,最後在一八九二年由《新英格蘭》雜誌出版。

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二、寫作歷程


終其一生,吉爾曼與女性友人的情誼總是特別緊密,而不同的女性也在她的性格發展上有不同程度的影響。一八九○年初期,吉爾曼與愛德玲.耐普密切交往,也是她作品中的「朵拉/黛兒」。她與愛德玲的關係親密深入兒令人匪夷所思,一般認為「給那被征服的」一詩即為證明兩人情感關係的寫照。不過這段密切的交往關係在吉爾曼的母親重病、病危之際漸漸疏遠。

一九○九年,為了出版與民眾更密切溝通的對話關係,吉爾曼成立以討論人性生活相關的政治議題、女性與其他社會論題的《先鋒》雜誌,藉著討論的主題,吉爾曼致力於深入探討宗教、道德、母性等主題,也致力於提出激發不同聲音、看法的對事論點。在一九一六年雜誌發行結束之前,她藉著討論尋求可行的社會問題解決之道、倡議新觀點而得到廣泛的回響。

雜誌發行結束讓吉爾曼友更多的時間繼續她的寫作。吉爾曼於是開始轉寫自傳《夏洛特.帕金斯.吉爾曼的一生》,該書於一九三五年出版。在一九三二年,吉爾曼被診斷出乳癌,焦慮的她隨後在一九三四年送走因病過世的丈夫。雙重打擊之中,她選擇搬到離女兒附近的帕沙迪那地區居住。在一九三五年她體認自己的病況加劇,她選擇自殺結束自己的生命。傳記作家凱斯樂認為,以自殺的方式結束自己的一生正符合吉爾曼凡是要求自我控制的規律結果。

 

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 作品簡介

在眾多作品中,「黃色壁紙」被認為是吉爾曼最著名的挑戰社會尺度之作。吉爾曼認為她的作品「旨不在逼瘋讀者,而在於拯救讀者使免於受瘋狂之苦」,她運用故事公開的批評她所接受的「休息療法」,藉由批評醫生要求她停止閱讀、寫作、禁制病患從事任何接觸文字的治療過程,而凸顯社會過分的期望並規範女性的變態。凱斯樂認為,「黃色壁紙」中同置黃色壁紙為監禁主人翁的監牢,又為解放的出口,種種強烈文學意象說明吉爾曼認同自我與男性權力建置的社會我同困於一個身體裡的窘境。

《我們這個世界》是吉爾曼第一本諷刺文本,於一八九三年出版。此書出版之後,她與當代作家文人友更密切的認識,也在隔年,她受邀接下《印象》雜誌主編,也更進一步與女權運動者有更多合作。在其後數年之間,吉爾曼在各地發表演說推動女權運動,同時也著手撰寫下一本抨擊傳統故舊侷限女性議題的論述。

一九○○年的《攸關兒童》一書中,吉爾曼主張極力反對體罰。她在獻詞中感謝她的女兒給她機會學習,並藉其文挑戰傳統堅持母親於家內侷限的空間內育兒的觀念 ,因她認為社會本是眾人生存的大環境,應讓母親與兒童在育兒初期便與社會相連結。 在《家:它的工作與影響》在一九○三年出版,同樣反對特定社會迷思並提出家為女性受男性合理化的駕馭控制、侷限的環境。一九一一年 《男人造的世界》與《她的國土》為吉爾曼受來思特.沃德的「雄性理論與雌性理論」協助她辨明她理想中的世界與現實世界中的不同。一八九八年的《女人與經濟》中,女人的社會地位之所以受侷限主要是經濟大權多掌握於男人的手中。藉由各項推動女權運動的演說與論述,吉爾曼的女性主義運動的主導地位在當代不容小覷,在現代更可見得她的勇氣和宏觀的影響。

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman
1860-1935
Julia Hsieh/謝佩璇
 

 Biographic Sketch
 Her Works

 


 Biographic Sketch 

This great granddaughter of Lyman and Roxanna Beecher, and the granddaughter of Mary Beecher and Thomas Perkins, was born to be as distinguished as most of her Beecher relatives that were successful in many domains, such as laws (as William Gilman), education (as Catherine Beecher), writing (as Harriet Beecher Stowe) and religion (as Henry Ward Beecher). Despite her unhappy childhood, Charlotte Perkins Gilman turned out to be an activist that delivered speeches for the welfare of her people, of women in America.

A. Family Background and Education

When the difficult child of Mary and Thomas Perkins, Frederick Beecher Perkins, walked out on his wife (also his distant cousin), Mary Fitch Wescott Perkins, and their two children: Charlotte and Thomas, the family fell apart. Within the years when Mary still remained her marital relationship with Frederick, the children and the mother had a hard time striving to live a decent life with the sparse contributions from the father. Mary became protective to her children in an extreme way that she educated her children to be reasonable and to live an itinerant life. On July 3 rd, 1860, Charlotte Anna Perkins was born to a family, with the lack of stability. Mary cared for her children and moved frequently due to insufficient household income. When Gilman finally inherited property in her adolescent years, she received better education in a private school where she developed skills of elocution and art.

As a creative Beecher descendent, Gilman's remarkable talents brought her into a different world when she left home and enrolled the Rhode Island School of Design as a young artist and met Walter Stetson, who she married in 1884 and with whom she had a daughter. After baby Katherine's birth, however, Gilman was not overjoyed with the completion of the family; instead, she nearly collapsed and appeared to be postpartum depression. For better environment of health and spiritual recovery, she spent some time with her longtime friend in Pasadena, California, and was introduced to "Rest Cure" by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell. That was when Gilman generated the idea of her most famous story, "The Yellow Wallpaper."

Gilman was convinced that the stifling domestic life and the conventional expectation bestowed on wife and mother were the reason that brought along her depression. Evidences rendered that the marriage life of Gilman and Walter did not go well due to crucial diversity in ideas of marriage and the domestic roles. With mutual consent and good will, the marriage dissolved in 1890s; Walter Stetson later married Gilman's friend Grace Channing. Gilman tearfully recalled how painful it was when she decided to send Katherine to live with the new family of Stetsons, but she revealed the truth that she did not want her beloved child to live a "fatherless life" like herself. Gilman became active in writing, having her works published, delivering speeches in various mass gatherings and activities concerning social welfare and related issues. She stepped into her second marriage with George Houghton Gilman, one of her first cousins, who encouraged her to devote to what she was fighting for, the welfare of women.

In 1890s, Gilman had been publishing her poems as Gilman Perkins Stetson. The Nationalist had her first poem "Similar Cases" and soon she was praised as talented and eloquent descendent that carried on the legacy of Beecher. William Dean Howells, the respected editor of Atlantic Monthly, deemed her works highly, and that further encouraged her to write actively. She then sent "The Yellow Wallpaper" to Howells, only to be rejected because the story was "terrible and too wholly dire," and "too terribly good to be printed"(Kessler 24). New England Magazine later published the story in 1892, and it was well received but was not analyzed with a feminist perspective until later.

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B. An acclaimed social activist and elocutionist


All through her life, Gilman appeared to be bonded with women more, in terms of relationship. In the early 1890s, Gilman became close with Adeline E. Knapp, the famous Dora/Delle in her life. She revealed a profound and intimate friendship with Adeline, and it is believed that the poem "To the Conquered" can be taken as a proof of the two women's affection toward each other. The relationship, nonetheless, turned lukewarm when Mary Perkins's health deteriorated as a result of cancer.

In 1909, in view of endeavoring in making publications that can activate dialogue with people, Gilman founded The Forerunner, with which she discussed political issues, women's issues and many social-related themes concerning human existence, such as religion, ethics and morality, motherhood and so on; Gilman strived to stimulate thoughts and offer practical solutions for social problems in life. The monthly magazine lasted for a few years with its insightful discussion and innovative conceptions before Gilman made a closure of it in 1916.

The discontinuation of the magazine spared her more time for writings. Gilman began to work on her autobiography, The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, published in 1935. Upon the unexpected distressful diagnose of breast cancer in 1932, Gilman grieved for her loss of Houghton Gilman in 1934 and moved to be near to Katherine in Pasadena. She committed suicide in 1935. Biographer Kessler contemplates on the death of Gilman as a way that "thoroughly consistent with the values by which she had lived"; Kessler regards her suicide as a reification of living a life with full control of her body and her life (40).

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 Her Works

"The Yellow Wallpaper" was considered her very first and prominent work that has taken effect on challenging the contemporary literary society. Gilman pointed out: the story "was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy;" she used the story to openly disagree with her own experience of being requested to quit any literary involvement and her contention of the general social expectation and regulation on women. According to Kessler, the story's powerful imagery of the juxtaposition of making wallpaper a prison and the release speaks for Gilman's identifying herself as an authentic self and a male-constructed self trapped in one body (40).

This Our World, Gilman's first book of satiric verses came out in 1893. She became more and more involved with her literary contemporary, so that the following year, she became the editor of Impress ( Bulletin ) and began to cultivate connection with radical feminist pioneers. The consecutive years, she traveled nationwide to deliver speeches and attested women's rights; at the same time, she began to compose her next influential book that had proved to shake the nation and challenge conventional perceptions on women.

With Concerning Children in 1900, Gilman proposed the idea of detesting corporal punishment. Like years later in the dedication, she thanked Katherine her daughter for making her learn, and she challenged the idea of women's ridden in domestic space with their children; as she pointed out, mothers need to let go of the babies and let both benefit in socialization. As similar as this book, The Home: Its Work and Influence published in 1903 contends series of myths about domestic life and generates new ideas that home is the place where a woman becomes subservient to her husband; the idea of stereotypical gender role of a mother staying home to maintain the domestic space whereas the father to provide the financial space actually stiffens and makes home a poorly ventilated space.

Published in 1911, Gilman's next powerful statement, The Man-Made World, was dedicated to Lester F. Ward whose Androcentric Theory and Gynaecocentric Theory helped her justify and exemplify how human development should actually be like. In Kessler's opinions, " presented a social constructivist view of gender difference and provided encyclopedic coverage of family, health, dress, the arts and literature, leisure, ethics and religion, education, law and government, crime and punishment, war and politics, industry and economics" (35).

In 1898, Women and Economics: A Study of the Economic Relation Between Men and Women as a Factor in Social Evolution was published, making a statement that it is economic dependence that has made woman the bondage of man and slackened social reform. This masterpiece has brought about comprehensive examination and argument and certified Gilman's intellectual leading role of feminist movement.

Herland was originally serialized in The Forerunner and later singled out as a book in 1979. This female utopian novel accounts for Gilman's humor and influence by Lester Ward's Gynaecocentric Theory again, with the plot of reviewing the contemporary feminist issues.

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Reference

Kessler, Carol Fairley. Charlotte Perkins Gilman. New York: Syracuse UP, 1995.

Miskolcze, Robin. et all. Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 201: American Women Prose Writers, 1870-1920. Ed. Sharon M. Harris. Bruccoli Clark Layman Book. Gale, 2000. 148-158.

Stone, Les. "Charlotte (Anna) Perkins (Stetson) Gilman." Contemporary Authors. Gage, 2003.

Lane, Ann J. Ed. Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 1999.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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