THE YELLOW WALLPAPER
Written in January, 1892, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, THE YELLOW WALLPAPER is a delight and a treat to read. Truly, Gilman was a woman to beat all.
THE YELLOW WALLPAPER is one of seven short stories in this small little 70 page book. However, there's nothing small about Gilman's writing. Such candor! Such wit! Such wisdom for a lady in the late 1800's, writing as a profession -- I mean, this was something that was just not done!
THE YELLOW WALLPAPER is about a woman who is 'nervous' and depressed. Her husband, a doctor, takes her to an old home to vacation and get well. She is suffering from depression after giving birth, but back in those days, this was an unknown and undiagnosed disease. Her hubby decides she needs rest and relaxation and insists she stay in an upper floor room, the one with the yellow wallpaper. Sadly, the days and weeks of being isolated lead this poor woman down a path that has no return. Her journey into madness is so wonderfully detailed you can feel her mind slip-slidin' away. What an awesome and shocking read. Yet, Gilman handles this poor woman's sorry fate with such wit, humor, and insight. To quote -- "John is a physician, and perhaps -- (I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind --) perhaps that is one reason I do not get well fast. You see, he does not believe I am sick!" To sum up, the poor woman 'sees' things in the wallpaper and keeps a journal of her days/nights. What an enticing read. Very haunting.
Another favorite was TURNED. A married couple have a lovely young girl as a maid. After the husband seduces her and gets her with child, he goes away on a business trip. The young maid and the missus are left alone to work things out. The way things work out for the two women -- left alone to clean up the mess -- is quite the surprise, shocking, and very, very well written. A twist of fate opens the eyes of the young wife and she is no fool, revenge could be the answer.
Gilman writes beyond her time -- all of her writing was written and published in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Women were treated like children, received no respect, and were not considered equals to men. These stories are full of fun, wit, humor, surprises, and read easily and well. All of them revolve around the relationships between men and women and are fun and fantastic, yet disturbing both in content and truth.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born in 1860 and died in 1935 at the age of 75. She committed suicide after learning she had incurable cancer. She was an advocate of euthanasia and killed herself with an overdose of chloroform.
Gilman was a sociologist, novelist, author of short stories, poems, fiction and non-fiction. She was also a lecturer on social reform. Her aunt was Harriet Beecher Stowe.
THE YELLOW WALLPAPER short story was written in two days but has been enjoyed by readers around the world for over 100 years. Gilman's writing technique has made this reader a fan and I will certainly read more of her work. She is a great user of the exclamation point !!! -- in fact, in YELLOW WALLPAPER that simple !!! after thoughts and sentences makes the reader aware of how quickly and surely our friend who sees things in that horrid wall covering is going insane.
I highly recommend this small book of short stories -- they will stay with you for years to come.
on February 9, 2014
The story I am reviewing is The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This story was written in the 1890's. During this time women were not very highly regarded due to a lot of sexism and that men were superior. Women during this time were expected to be the perfect housewife that would consist of staying home there whole life, taking care of the children, the house, and food on a daily basis. The lifestyle leads to a lot of depression in women which was "cured" by leaving them in solitary confinement for a certain length of time. In my opinion the story displays a lot of the authors thoughts on what women of the time suffered on a day to day basis during this point of time
In the story there are not a lot of characters which the author makes up with the vast amount of dialog throughout the entire story. the main character in the story is the woman whose name is not mentioned. she is very different in her opinion from other women during the time because she has a voice and does not act like the typical house wife despite her best attempts at it. The main setting of the story is a very well portrayed urban house. while reading through the start you almost feel as though you are there. the whole story in my opinion falls into a much larger picture that is we don't fully understand what someone else is going through.
To me i feel that this story would be best enjoyed by someone with a higher level of reading and comprehension of the text; high school students would be the suggested readers to me. I come to that conclusion from the way the story is worded and from the amount of dialogue used it would be harder for people without a higher level of reading to follow. although i was not the biggest fan of the story I would suggest reading The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman from a historical standpoint of how women lived during that time.
on July 21, 2002
The first time I read the Yellow Wallpaper I was struck by the sheer force the words have on the reader. Perkins Gillman plays a mind game with her words, and the reader is made to join her sense of imagination. I first read it for a literature class, and each of the students in the class had a different interpretation of the story. This seemed extremely effective - it had made all of us think, and imagine. It had made is not just analyze the words, but it made us become a part of the story.I myself felt that the woman in the story was quite amazing - there were two men in her life, her husband and her brother both doctors by profession who were most incensitive to her needs. As can be expected of that time period, they were more interested in the norms of society, and were not going to allow the woman to act contrary to the norm. She however, was not about to give up on behalf of the norm. She was going to fight to the very end, and it felt almost as though she had liberated her own mind when she stopped seeing another woman in the wallpaper, but herself became one with it. Those of you who read this should also go ahead and read something on the author. It is a truely amazing story, and leaves plenty of room for the imagination. or. In one of her essays she talks of why she wrote this story.
on January 14, 2015
A review by Dr. Joseph Suglia
In 1887, Charlotte Perkins Gilman was committed to a sanitarium in Pennsylvania run by one Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, the popularizer of a cure for female hysteria. Every female hysteric, according to Mitchell, should be placed under the watchful supervision of a (male) physician. He must oversee the strict regimentation of her body's habits. Such vigilant monitoring is a conditio sine qua non for any physician who wishes to cure the patient of her malady. She must submit unquestioningly to the physician's will and obey all of his prescriptions-one of which, invariably, is the injunction to do nothing. Bed rest is compulsory and should be vigorously enforced. The patient is to be placed in a state of perpetual invalidism; all forms of activity to which she is accustomed must be invalidated. Above all, she must not write.
Five years later, Gilman published the novella The Yellow Wallpaper, a slightly veiled polemic against Weir Mitchell (the physician is even mentioned explicitly in the text) and the "cure" to female depression and hysteria that he advocated. The narrative is written from the perspective of a woman who undergoes a nervous breakdown. What we are reading is her diary, which charts her gradual mental deterioration. The narrator and her husband/physician, John, have rented an ancestral house for a summer. John prescribes for the narrator a "rest cure" that is clearly indebted to the teachings of Weir Mitchell. She is prohibited from writing; she writes nonetheless, perhaps to spite him. Isolated in her room and completely inactive except for her writing, the narrator becomes transfixed by the sickeningly grotesque wallpaper that surrounds her. She projects her self into the convoluted patterns of the paper and imagines a feminine figure-not necessarily a "woman," but rather a "shape... like a woman"  -- entangled in the radiating network of fronds and vines. The feminine shape escapes from the wallpaper's intricate web and is seen "creeping up and down" in the "dark grape arbors"  of the courtyard. In the final scene of the work, the narrator, who has seemingly lost her mind, tears off the wallpaper and crawls and "creeps" "smoothly"  across the floor and over John, who has collapsed lifelessly after seeing his wife wriggling and writhing on the ground. Since all of this is composed in the present tense, apparently she is writing as she is creeping.
Two orders of writing are figured in the novella. On the one hand, there is the language of the yellow wallpaper, which spreads its sprawling patterns, its fecundating, fungoid forms, all over the room in which the narrator is confined-this is clearly representative of the language of medicine and maleness. On the other hand, there is the ideolect of the female narrator, who frees herself by writing in defiance of her husband's orders. Writing is here figured as a mode of activity-which, for Mitchell, is a quintessentially male practice (women who are active, according to Mitchell, ape men).
Little known in the century in which it was written, The Yellow Wallpaper was rediscovered in the late twentieth century and has become what is easily one of the most "over-interpreted" works of fiction in the last few decades. Most interpreters have pointed to the novella as a figuration of female liberation in modernist fiction. Despite its seeming simplicity, they invariably point to the text's so-called "ambiguities" and "contradictions," the most glaring of which is the manner in which the novella ends; most seem to believe that the novella ends complicatedly and equivocally. Does the narrator, in fact, achieve liberation? Or does she not? John, it is often said, faints to the floor, and fainting, as everyone knows, is somehow "feminine." Therefore, the narrator has perhaps achieved a "victory" over John. (One should also call attention to the fact that John is referred to, in the final scene, as "that man" , his proper name having been replaced by a demonstrative pronoun and a common noun.) And yet the narrator is also reduced, at the close of the novella, to the status of a worm or a snake, crawling and creeping across the floor along a self-ordained path. She certainly seems to have "precipitated" into what is usually described as "madness"-a "madness" that is attributed not to her "imaginative power and habit of story-making" , but rather to her husband's profession. Her progressive "improve[-ment]"  has resulted in a regressive deterioration. Because of this central ambiguity between "positive" and "negative" meanings, the novella seems, at once, a celebratory and affirmative "portrayal" of female liberation from a constraining, male-dominated order and an elegiac, despairing cri de coeur that proclaims the seeming impossibility of liberation from tyrannical maleness.
The notion that this is an interesting "ambiguity" or "contradiction" escapes this reader. Far richer literary works of art were produced during the same period in which The Yellow Wallpaper was written. The writing of Djuana Barnes is far more provocative and complex than that of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. No one with a shred of rationality would deny that The Yellow Wallpaper has a didactic character; and, with the exception of a few trite "ambiguities," its meanings are almost completely self-explanatory. The simplicity of the work may explain the multiplication of critical discourses that it has generated.
Dr. Joseph Suglia
on January 19, 2013
I promise to be brutally honest with my opinion, but it should not be taken as fact. Any reader should read it for themselves, before they decide if this book has any merit or not. Do not judge this book biased solely on my opinion. If you do, you might miss out on a great read. You never know. It could happen.
1. Strong Main Character/ Female Heroine: The female character is never named in the short story. Some people may call her delusional, but I call her whimsical and imaginative. For the time in which this piece was written in, this woman was the typical "angel of the house" who could no longer function as one, so she was seen as useless, but I call her strong. She freed herself from the bounds of her society, even if she did kind of lose it in the end. 4 out of 5 stars
2. Strong Minor Characters: Her husband, John, is very strict and scientific. He is a doctor that does not see why his wife would be sick. He is clueless in a way and loving, but he is more concerned about how society will view his family than his wife's health. 4 out of 5 stars
3. The Setting: It is a short story, so I cannot fault it with taking place in only a couple of places throughout the story. 5 out of 5 stars
4. The Plot: This piece was a radical statement at the time, where the rest cure was being prescribed to women as a cure-all for their "pretend" illnesses. In fact, the rest cure turned many women insane and some even died from boredom. This is a must-read for feminists everywhere. 5 out of 5 stars
Overall, 4 1/2 stars.
The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story about a woman's battle with postpartum depression and how this problem is managed during her time (the 1890's).
The narrator's/ protagonist's husband is a doctor, so she acknowledges that he must know what's best for her. He doesn't want her to face any stress of any kind. Oddly, he even discourages her from doing things she enjoys doing, such as writing. Not being allowed to do things that she enjoys only makes matters worse; she sees visions in the designs of the yellow wallpaper in the room in which her husband confines her.
Obviously, this makes the style and voice of this work more difficult to follow. Readers must remember that the narrator/protagonist is suffering from psychological problems and will not always write coherently. If readers consider that this writing might compare to a journal, it is not so difficult to think through the times when the writing seems disconnected.
An understanding about what was known about mental health during the late 19th century, particularly as concerns women's mental health, is very helpful here. Also, it is helpful to realize that Gillman, the author, went through a battle with postpartum depression herself. This short story simply puts a face on the way such was handled in that time and, as such, has much historical merit.
on December 12, 2011
I loved this book so much that I read it in just a few hours.
There is a show I watch on the FX channel called American Horror Story. On the last episode the maid who is also a ghost tells the woman of the house that she should read this book. Being curious I looked to see if it was a real book and that same moment I got it for my Kindle.
This poor woman is ailed with some illness that her husband, a doctor, is requiring her to get plenty of rest in the home they are renting for a short period of time. In this room there is a hideous yellow wall paper that takes this woman from a mild ailment to a completely unstable mind.
You will journey with this woman down her sprial of madness as she begins to see things in the wall paper. She makes it her personal task to remove the paper while being paranoid that her husband and nanny are wanting her to go completely mad. The eyes in the paper follow her and the heads judge her. All the while the paper changes shape in different lights of the day. She no longer sleeps at night because she is watching the images in the paper threw out the night.
Finally she completely succumbs to the madness and......
well at this point you will need to read it your self.
on September 26, 2010
This is about the 4th time I've read this one and I love it!!! Cleverly written, fun, and a short ride to insanity! What better way to spend about an hour! Love it!
on September 23, 2010
This was a dark short story with a spooky gothic edge to it. The work is both a warning and a political statement. It seems Charlotte Perkins Gilman was prescribed a similar regimen as the protagonist of The Yellow Wallpaper - strict rest for a nervous breakdown. By strict rest, the doctors recommend NO activity - not even reading or writing. Laying in bed all day is enough to make someone go insane, isn't it? Gilman depicts the narrators demise and she descends into madness.
It is also a political statement in regard to the oppression of women and feminism. It's true that women would be instructed to rest in bed and do nothing else for weeks at a time if there were signs of anxiety. Unfortunately, they had little or no choice in the matter. Gilman is making a statement for women in this short story. It's well worth the read if you have about an hour to spare.
on May 12, 2013
I am totally stunned by this book. It let's you see and feel how a person undergoing depression would feel. They can't make others believe what's going on inside them and have to face the harsh experience themselves. That is exactly what the title character in this book goes through. Her husband, John, who is a physician always calms her down with soothing words and reassures her she is alright and getting better, when she herself knows she is not. But she is not able to convince him for fear of his reaction.
The main highlight in this book, as suggested by the title, is the yellow wallpaper of her room, at the summerhouse she and John comes to stay at, as a countryside cure for her. Though she insists on staying in another room, John is adamant she stays there as that room has many windows and lot of sunlight. However, the wallpaper, stripped off from the wall at certain places, consumes her world completely. She spends hours at end watching it, forming shapes and patterns out of it. Her feelings of imprisonment are projected onto the wallpaper and she, having all the time in the world at hand, tries to scrutinize every bit of it.
The author very successfully takes us along the main character's descent to insanity. The book is written in first person narrative and that appealed to me a lot. What can a wallpaper possibly do to drive a person crazy??. You might wonder. But just read this book and you will, for a very short period, be taken down the road to madness. The ending stunned and creeped me out. Being the imaginative person that I am, I could very well visualize the creepy scene. For a few minutes I sat still, horror gripping my heart, trying to get that picture out of my mind. I really wish I could say more but well, I hate spoilers myself!
Though this was written a long time ago (1899), it somehow sounds modern to me. Sometimes classics can bore you. But not this one. This one, though only a few pages, is powerful beyond imagination. I think the bookcover is perfect.
This is a brilliantly written book and I highly recommend you read it too!. This book gets a 5/5 from me, which by Goodreads standards mean it's amazing!