Prescriptions for anti-anxiety medication. Talking it out with a shrink. Maybe a soothing yoga routine. You probably didn't hear the words "psychological treatment" and think "Oooh, oooh: I know—being forced to lie in bed and do literally nothing for weeks!
And that's because you don't live in the 's, a. But way back in , Charlotte Perkins Gilman went to see a specialist in the hope of curing her recurring nervous breakdowns. The specialist recommended a "rest cure," which consisted of lying in bed all day and engaging in intellectual activity for only two hours a day. After three months, Gilman says, she was "near the borderline of utter mental ruin. For the first decades of its life, "The Yellow Wallpaper" was read as a piece of horror fiction firmly situated in the Gothic genre.
And we're not terribly shocked by this: But according to Gilman, the short story was never intended as a Gothic horror, but rather as a cautionary tale about what supposed "rest cures" could do to the mental stability of patients. She sent a copy to the physician who had recommended a rest cure, and he subsequently changed his medical practices.
It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked. It's easy to read "The Yellow Wallpaper" and feel a little smug. After all, you're living in the 21st Century. Thing like leaving a someone alone for most of the day without any mental stimulation just doesn't happen these days, right?
And if it does, it's certainly not done in someone's best interest, right? Um, the answer is "yes" and "no. The narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper" spends a summer languishing mostly alone on a bed nailed down to the floor.
And she does this on the orders of a well-meaning husband and a well-meaning doctor who, um, happen to be the same man. Peeling wall-paper is clearly less harmful to the body, as to the state of mind…? View all 42 comments. Here follows the diary of a moronic Victorian husband. My wife is suffering from low mood. So I, being an extremely practical Victorian man, have decided that the best solution for the problem is to restrain her in the house.
This is clearly a brilliant idea. It makes sense you see. I got the idea from the prestigious Dr. He describing what he calls his "rest cure" Here follows the diary of a moronic Victorian husband. He describing what he calls his "rest cure" for hysterical women, wrote, "I do not permit the patient to sit up or to sew or write or read. The only action allowed is that needed to clean the teeth.
Can you not see the sheer intellect behind the idea? This will solve everything just you wait and see. I direct her every action for her own safety. She eats what I tell her, when I tell her. And she has to stay in our bedroom all day. This will soon be over; she only has a temporary nervous depression.
She babbles on to me about her problems at night. So that means respectability and shutting down any sign of emotion. I told her to go to sleep, this will soon be over. I caught my wife writing in a journal. What an impetuous woman she is! Does she not understand that these restrictions are for her own safety? I do this because I must have a trophy wife.
In public we must be seen as a successful couple with an air of respectability. I told her to stop. She needs to be well again, for my sake. My wife has taken a turn for the worse. She barely eats and she just sleeps all day. She says she needs a vocation; she needs something to do to pass the time, and test her intellects. What she clearly needs is more restriction.
She keeps talking about the wallpaper, says she wants the room decorated because it feels like a prison. She says it reminds her of bars.
I cannot be doing with it, I told her to go to sleep. My wife has gone mad. I think she will have to be locked away. I entered the room and what I beheld was sheer depravity. Such animalistic behaviour, I passed out.
I could not bear the sight. The treatment did not work. I should have restricted her more. She had far too much excitement, locked in the house all day with that extremely entertaining wallpaper. I should have left her in darkness. That would have worked. Note to self- Tell Dr.
Silas Mitchell of this discovery. This is the rest cure Victorian women were subjected to, and the journal I wrote here is the ridiculous rationale that drove it. This is a very powerful story, and this was a very stupid husband. I shall post a short review after reading each one. No doubt it will take me several months to get through all of them!
Hopefully I will find some classic authors, from across the ages, that I may not have come across had I not bought this collection. View all 25 comments. The story of a young married woman with an infant, who is patronised and controlled by her husband to the point of losing her sanity, is creepy, relevant, and not dated at all.
Two mindsets and worldviews clash. He keeps her under surveillance, and she is asked to sleep and rest as much as possible, avoiding any kind of activity that can spark independent thoughts. The yellow wallpaper in her room becomes an obsessive symbol for the intellectual oppression the young woman experiences. It increasingly chokes her, until she lets go of her resistance and loses her sanity along with her hope to ever be able to live up to the limited version of life her prison guard is willing to grant her.
Her description of the yellow wallpaper is a mirror of her internal suffering, the contraction she feels and cannot solve. And it is an ominous sign of the only way she sees out of her hopeless dependency on a man who does not see her as a thinking human being, but rather as a decorative piece of furniture in his possession: Whether or not Oscar Wilde spoke those words, he died just a couple of years after the publication of this short story, a broken man after years in prison which destroyed his spirit and will to create.
He too was a victim of a dominant heterosexual, male society, which could accept no exceptions to their preferred way of living: The room, supervised by "benevolent" authority, turns into a dystopian scenario in the spirit of Orwell. Thoughtcrime and doublethink were well-known to intelligent, captive women long before "" named them properly. Still readable, enjoyable, and thought-provoking!
View all 31 comments. The first time I read this short story, years ago, in a collection of horror stories, I thought awful and very creepy things were really happening to the main character; i. On second read or probably first read for most people It's still quite creepy, but in a very different way. There's a distinct layer of early feminism in this story, as well as a strong implication that the main character might have been able to work through her mental problems if she'd been allowed to do something interesting and productive rather than being pressured and forced into idleness.
Apparently this kind of enforced rest and confinement was a standard medical treatment at the time, especially for women, who were deemed the more fragile sex. The author, Charlotte Gillman, felt strongly that this kind of treatment was counter-productive to mental health, rather than a cure. This makes a nice companion read to The Tell-Tale Heart , another classic but very different story of mental illness.
View all 20 comments. Aug 17, Jaline rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is not a happy story — not even in the slightest. Our protagonist and her husband and sister-in-law are spending 3 months in a rented home during renovations of their own home.
The woman recently had a baby and has not been able to recover her energy nor the will to accomplish anything. She is a writer but her husband, a physician, tells her not to write because it will only add to her fanciful state of being. On the one hand, he is very controlling — and his wife sees that as a display of l This is not a happy story — not even in the slightest.
On the one hand, he is very controlling — and his wife sees that as a display of love. Their bedroom has yellow wallpaper which she becomes fixated on. It becomes an obsession, and the more she sees, the more we can see that she is on a slippery slope with no-one to pull her back. This sad story of a psychological breakdown spirals from low energy and spirits into a very dark place in its few pages.
It serves as a cautionary tale because when asked, she insisted she was fine except for being tired. View all 73 comments. Jun 03, Jessica rated it it was amazing Shelves: This has got to be one of the most impressive short stories ever written, up there with the very best. When I was an undergraduate, Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an undiscovered writer, but thankfully she's been very much discovered now: I've read her nonfiction 'Women and Economics'--very forward-thinking re: None is as famous as "The Yellow Wallpaper," however.
What's great about this story is that I've found it reprinted in horror anthologies, women's fiction anthologies, college readers, texts on madness It's a masterful example of an unreliable narrator and a woman's descent into madness.
Don't want to spoil it by saying any more, if you haven't already read this great short story. View all 9 comments. Apr 24, J. The Yellow Wallpaper is a short but powerful masterpiece in which Charlotte Perkins Gilman offers insight into oppression and madness. It remains despite being written in as relevant as it is haunting.
Liberation from his and society's oppression of women is only available in this internal struggle which ultimately leads to a mental breakdow The Yellow Wallpaper is a short but powerful masterpiece in which Charlotte Perkins Gilman offers insight into oppression and madness.
Liberation from his and society's oppression of women is only available in this internal struggle which ultimately leads to a mental breakdown and loss of identity. View all 3 comments. The Yellow Wallpaper is a short novella from , which has become a classic of the genre. It is a claustrophobic depiction of what would then be described as a woman's descent into madness, but now sounds more like severe post-natal depression.
The story consists of passages from a secret journal, kept by the woman, Jane, who is losing her grip on reality. The narrator is confined to the upstairs bedroom of a house by her doctor husband, John, who diagnoses a "temporary nervous depression - a The Yellow Wallpaper is a short novella from , which has become a classic of the genre.
The narrator is confined to the upstairs bedroom of a house by her doctor husband, John, who diagnoses a "temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency -". The windows of the room are barred, and there is a gate across the top of the stairs so that she has limited access to the rest of the house.
She is also forbidden from working by her husband, whom she claims to comply with because he is a doctor. It is not difficult to see how these constraints would exacerbate any tendency to depression! This story depicts the prevailing attitudes in the 19th century toward women, in particular their physical and mental health, promoting the view that they should live and be defined entirely by domestic considerations.
Jane's husband is kindly and insufferably paternalistic, ""Bless her little heart! Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an author, philosopher, socialist and feminist. Her stories both analyse and criticise the role of women in society, at a time when men were very much dominant.
The contemporary view is that such women were oppressed by their position in a patriarchal society. In several of her later stories Gilman deals with a male-dominated medical establishment attempting to silence its women patients.
In this one the narrator expresses the views that she should work instead of rest, and that she should go out in society more, instead of remaining isolated. She also thinks that she should not be separated and "protected" from her child, but should be able to see her child and allowed to be a mother. This is a modern perspective, and very much ahead of its time. True to the current conventions of behaviour though, Jane is silent, powerless, and passive, accepting her doctor-husband's authority in all things.
It was stated by a medical journal of the time, that a physician must "assume a tone of authority" and that the idea of a "cured" woman was one who became "subdued, docile, silent, and above all subject to the will and voice of the physician.
This makes for a very unsettling read. One interpretation could be that since she has been forbidden to read or write, the given medical reason being that her "hysteria" needs "rest", she then starts to "read" the wallpaper, and feels increasingly trapped behind it.
She first describes the wallpaper saying, "the colour is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight. At night she is able to see a woman behind bars, trapped within its complicated design. The ending is ambiguous, depending on how the reader has interpreted the story.
Does she slip into irrevocable psychosis? Does she murder her husband? Clearly though, this story is about disempowering women, even to the point of forbidding the tools for writing, in case "Jane" manages to express her own identity in that way. The bars and trapped woman are originally symbolic of the narrator's own confinement, but eventually she becomes subsumed in the many images of women that she sees.
The Yellow Wallpaper originated in Gilman's own experience, when she suffered from depression, and was ordered to lead a similar life to that of the narrator of this story. An eminent specialist prescribed a rest cure, recommending her to live a domestic a life as possible. She was only allowed two hours of mental stimulation a day, and writing materials were banned. She followed this directive for three months, becoming increasingly desperate.
Eventually she felt herself slipping into a worse mental state, so rebelled and wrote The Yellow Wallpaper as a sort of therapy for herself, as well as alerting the public to what she considered a seriously misguided form of treatment. She said the story was, "not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked. Aug 18, Elyse rated it it was ok. I debated about saying anything Many of my favorite people love this book. I thought this 99 cent book was odd Plus, right from the start -- I felt like I was reading a laundry list-- I was being talked 'at'.
I found it irritating. This is actually one of those books I wish I didn't read. I didn't like how I felt --and I don't think the book was 'that' worthy that I needed to feel so yucky after. Read other reviews I debated about saying anything Read other reviews --or just spend the 99 cents to discover for yourself-- most readers appreciated this book!!!
My comments are simply based on my feelings and reaction. View all 18 comments. Mar 13, Greta rated it it was amazing Shelves: Clever, eerie little story, which I highly recommend to anyone who thinks that depending on a caring spouse is all you need to be happy.
Sometimes it's not, and it even can be harmful ; especially if your wallpaper happens to be yellow. View all 21 comments. Jun 16, Bradley rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Everyone with a desire to understand how they're trapped by life.
I was reminded of this little piece by a fellow reviewer and while I read it way back in college, several things still stick in my mind. First, the prevalent psychology of Freud during the time-period: This novel portrays the kind of circular thinking that could happen to anyone in that particular time and station. Any person of a protected, apparently weak, and especially underclass station could find the confines so stifling that it might break their mind.
Of course, this isn't to say that ever I was reminded of this little piece by a fellow reviewer and while I read it way back in college, several things still stick in my mind. Of course, this isn't to say that every woman had it this bad, or that they had weak minds. I'm just saying that Freud pointed out something that was happening during this time-period and all of a sudden he gets catapulted into prominence for stating the blinding obvious.
Going crazy was an escape. This led to the arrival of hoards of writers, revolutionaries, men and women of all walks of life all deciding that they'd show how much they weren't influenced by Freud. There was the huge push to make things equal between the sexes. Hell, I think that part was very healthy. Gilman was a perfect revolutionary. She showed us how insane a person could get being put into that society, under those social rules and regulations, and even made her character sympathetic.
This is one of those works where it is so much more satisfying to read when we understand where it came from. It's even worse when we understand that this was pretty much a regular part of the times. And then, there's Oscar Wilde. He had a speech on his deathbed perhaps apocryphal , where he saw the ugly purple wallpaper on the wall next to his deathbed and made a pronouncement, "Either this wallpaper goes, or I go!
Was this a commentary? Perhaps it was a slight twist and turn in medium, a hidden knife, a big idea slammed by wit. But then, I'm only a man, but I'm proud to say that this story sent me on a long kick of feminism literature back in college.
I'm sorry to see that the whole subject is so out of vogue. The backlash backlashed and backlashed again briefly and backlashed until I'm hella unsure where the pendulum has landed. I'm pleased to see it still lives a bit in SF and Fantasy, but but the rest of the genres seem to backsliding more often than they get it right.
I mean, what the hell is a Romance novel, except a means to pigeonhole women into a narrowly confined role and teach them to stare at the pretty wallpaper? Some YA novels feature nothing but abusive and truly creep-the-fuck-out characters. Where the hell is the lost ideal of equality between the sexes? All I see these days is frustrated sexual fantasies that rely more on power plays than love.
Someone, please let me know where I can get some relief! Anyway, I always liked this story, and it allowed me to flex my imagination and enjoy the surrealism of the literature of the day in a way a little more accessible than others of the type that I just couldn't get into as much. It was still a mindfuq, and put into perspective, I think the novelette gave a great deal of meaning to women. People's perceptions of themselves change over time, obviously, reacting to past mistakes, past preconceptions, but as a cross-gender analysis, I have to say that no one is completely free of the wallpaper.
Anyone can be caught up in their social roles. I know I've felt as trapped as our crazy protagonist. It's not just women who have needed to gain a measure of self-awareness. We all need to say, "Enough is Enough, Already! View all 19 comments. Jan 03, Lynn rated it it was amazing Shelves: I typed the title into the search just to see if it would come up. I had no idea that this was a classic work. I never could recall the author's name, but from the reviews, I can see that I am not alone in how it still sits with me decades later.
I was only 13 or 14 years old when I sat in on my aunt's college literature class. I sat in the back, and the teacher gave me a black and white copy of the text so I could read along with the class. I remember the debate raged on in the class, but we re I typed the title into the search just to see if it would come up. I remember the debate raged on in the class, but we read very little there. Later that night, while everyone was asleep, I read the whole story alone in our dark attic apartment.
It wasn't that I scared easy or that I was too young for the story, it was just so intense, so real, I guess I thought it was so possible I looked at everything different from then on. I thought anywhere could be a jail and anyone your jailer. I knew I could see patterns in the sky, in the dark, if you closed and opened your eyes rapidly, in markings on the floor, in the terrible paneling on our walls, but I would never mention this to anyone, least I never am let out again.
View all 8 comments. I was stuck in traffic, so I started this audio book--and an hour later when I finally pulled in my driveway, this was me: As she slowly became more and more obsessed with the wallpaper of her vacation home, she also became less committed to writing her ideas. It was also shockingly sad to see her fears completely dismissed by her husband, and her chosen creative outlet writing restricted from her.
Overall, I see why this is a feminist staple, and loved the writing style. It is quite short, but completely immersive and addicting. View all 6 comments. After seeing two recent reviews from two reviewers I respect and getting different perspectives with complete opposing views made me want to pick up this short novella, at 64 pages long it was not much of a stretch to fit it into my day!
I'm so glad I picked it up, it really is a peculiar story. It captures a real horror of a woman trapped by her nervous disposition as she describes her condition, you really get a real sense of dread at her fixation with the yellow wallpaper in the room where sh After seeing two recent reviews from two reviewers I respect and getting different perspectives with complete opposing views made me want to pick up this short novella, at 64 pages long it was not much of a stretch to fit it into my day!
It captures a real horror of a woman trapped by her nervous disposition as she describes her condition, you really get a real sense of dread at her fixation with the yellow wallpaper in the room where she is recovering from some sort of depressive episode.
This was really quite an inventive way to display and portray a woman's descent into madness. I'm glad this was a short story as I felt the power of this wallpaper taking hold!
What a wonderful story and that ending!! View all 15 comments. What is so striking about this story is its narrative voice. It feels as if someone has just written it. As a reader, I am so impressed by this quality; the world created more than a century ago still resonates with me, it still appears fresh and familiar.
The young patient and her physician husband John are like any other present-day upper middle-class couple. When we see them, we know them. On the surface, this couple looks happy and satisfied, but as the story unfolds we know more about their What is so striking about this story is its narrative voice. On the surface, this couple looks happy and satisfied, but as the story unfolds we know more about their relationship.
Even though John seems caring and concerned toward his wife; something is queer about his care. His wife feels being reduced to her severe nervous depression, her medical condition. She is only her disease, the rest of her is ignored. The good husband always tells her what she should do and what not. For instance, she loves writing journals, but she is forbidden to do so. She waits for him to leave the house so that she can write. John's sister Jennie also comes to stay with them and help them.
So everyone around her in the name of love and care restricts her; she does not matter much but her cancer does. The disease takes over the person. Her husband John shows his affection and love in every possible way, but he does not really listen to her. Throughout the story, she tells herself how good and loving John is. Her disease, the well regulated mundane interest of her husband make her emotionally more aloof and damaged. She is drawn to the yellow wallpaper on the wall of her airy bedroom.
This yellow wallpaper absorbs her completely; by its unique, sprawling flamboyant patterns. She talks and engages with the wallpaper, especially, because everyone around her has things to do.
She becomes more and more consumed by these ever mobile, hideous patterns on the yellow wallpaper. At times, she gives a hint of what bothers her apart from her bodily pain, it is her husband's lack of concern, his true presence.
The color is repellant, almost revolt ing ; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sun light. It is a dull yet lurid orange in some.
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A summary of Themes in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of The Yellow Wallpaper and what it means. Perfect for acing essays, tests, and . Use our free chapter-by-chapter summary and analysis of The Yellow Wallpaper. It helps middle and high school students understand Charlotte Perkins .
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is an exaggerated account of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s personal experiences. In , shortly after the birth of her daughter, Gilman began to suffer from serious depression and fatigue. She was referred to Silas Weir Mitchell, a leading specialist in women’s nervous. Complete summary of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Yellow Wallpaper.