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The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins…

The Yellow Wall-Paper (original 1892; edition 1996)

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Elaine Hedges (Afterword)

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1,828773,823 (4)1 / 238
Title:The Yellow Wall-Paper
Authors:Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Other authors:Elaine Hedges (Afterword)
Info:The Feminist Press at CUNY (1996), Edition: Revised, Paperback, 64 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:fiction, insanity, feminist

Work details

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1892)

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Showing 1-5 of 76 (next | show all)
The Yellow Wallpaper is short but powerful. It’s written in the first person, as a diary by an unnamed woman. She has some unspecified mental health issue after giving birth, and her husband has whisked her away to a country manor. The husband (John) has insisted that they sleep in what appears to be the old nursery, as it has bars on the windows and the horrible yellow wallpaper has been damaged.

The writer is prevented from doing anything much by her husband (who insists that she needs rest) and spends increasing amounts of time staring at the wallpaper, becoming convinced that there is a woman behind the pattern, trying to get out.

I can identify with this, because I remember having some curtains when I was a child that terrified me. When you looked at the pattern, the pattern seemed to look back…

The ending is ambiguous; has the narrator finally gone over the edge or is it something else?

Apparently, the reason Gilman wrote this was to protest at the treatment of women who, kept from any kind of intellectual pursuit, were essentially driven mad with boredom. The story itself is written in a cheerful, unconcerned style which manages to convey to the reader that the narrator has no insight whatsoever into what is happening to her mind, underscoring her mental disintegration.

It’s also quite clear that John is calling the shots, and is ignoring his wife’s protests that the enforced inactivity is making her worse, not better. But the narrator accepts that there is nothing she can do about this, because she’s only a woman and of course the men in her life know best…

What must it be like to be in a situation where, no matter how often you tell people that you have a problem, nobody will believe you, because they all think they know better than you? It’s for your own good… ( )
  T_K_Elliott | Mar 12, 2017 |
It was nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls.

I agree with Julie Davis: the less said about The Yellow Wallpaper the better, so that you can read it fresh, without any baggage or imposed interpretations. This horror classic gave me chills. It reminded me a little bit of The House on the Borderland, and it fits right in with the Alfred Hitchcock stories I've been reading for my Deal Em In Short Story Challenge.

The Yellow Wallpaper is readily available online or in ebook format, and it will take you about a half an hour to read. Find a quiet corner this evening and lose yourself in this creepy tale. ( )
  nsenger | Jan 30, 2017 |
The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story published in 1892. It is presented as a collection of journal entries written by a woman whose doctor husband has confined her to the upstairs bedroom of a house they’ve rented for the summer so she can recuperate from what he calls a “temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency,” a diagnosis common to women in that period.

This early piece of feminist literature reflects 19th century male attitudes toward women's physical and mental health. What she seems to have is post partum depression. Rather than help her recover, her confinement in the room with the peeling yellow wallpaper has a very bad effect indeed on her mental health.

I found myself outraged at the condescending attitude of her husband, as well as her acceptance of his decree. I also found the story of her mental decline deliciously creepy. The short story is definitely worth a read. ( )
  LeslieHurd | Jan 11, 2017 |
I love this story. ( )
  Juliasb | Dec 1, 2016 |
Amazing, painful, frightening. TV Tropes even refers to this short story from 1892... (especially in the "Room Full of Crazy" trope...) ( )
  DeborahJ2016 | Oct 26, 2016 |
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» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gilman, Charlotte Perkinsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hedges, Elaine R.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Farrell, MaggieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer.
There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will.
It is the same woman, I know, for she is always creeping, and most women do not creep by daylight.
Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.
He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction.
The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight.
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Disambiguation notice
This is the short story, including the Feminist Press Reprint No. 3 edition (1973) and Virago Modern Classic No. 50 (1981). Please do NOT combine with any anthology or other collection, but only with other editions confirmed as having the same contents. Thank you.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
"The Yellow Wallpaper" is about a woman who suffers from mental illness after three months of being trapped within her home staring at the same revolting yellow wall paper. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote this story to change people's minds about the role of women in her society, illustrating how women's lack of autonomy is detrimental to their mental, emotional, and even physical well being. The narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" must do as her husband and male doctor demand, though the treatment they prescribe to her contrasts directly with what she truly needs--mental stimulation, and the freedom to escape the monotony of the room to which she is confined. "The Yellow Wallpaper" was essentially a response to the doctor who tried to cure Charlotte Perkins Gilman of post-partum depression through a "rest cure," Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, and she sent him a copy of the story. Although "The Yellow Wallpaper" is not the first or longest of her works, it is without question Gilman's most famous piece and became a best-seller of the Feminist Press.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0912670096, Paperback)

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(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:50 -0400)

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The study of a woman's gradual mental breakdown. While taking a rest cure, the wallpaper becomes her focus of discontent. While her madness progresses, so does her awareness of the way her creative energies are curtailed. Her obsession with the wallpaper continues as she struggles to free the woman crawling behind the pattern.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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