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The Yellow Wallpaper - Feminist Press (1892)

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,7381244,307 (4.05)1 / 373
"The Yellow Wallpaper" is a 6,000-word short story by the American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in January 1892 in The New England Magazine. It is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature.Presented in the first person, the story is a collection of journal entries written by a woman (Jane) whose physician husband (John) has confined her to the upstairs bedroom of a house he has rented for the summer. She is forbidden from working and has to hide her journal from him, so she can recuperate from what he calls a "temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency," a diagnosis common to women in that period. The windows of the room are barred, and there is a gate across the top of the stairs, allowing her husband to control her access to the rest of the house.The story depicts the effect of confinement on the narrator's mental health and her descent into psychosis. With nothing to stimulate her, she becomes obsessed by the pattern and color of the wallpaper. "It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw - not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things. But there is something else about that paper - the smell! ... The only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A yellow smell."In the end, she imagines there are women creeping around behind the patterns of the wallpaper and comes to believe she is one of them. She locks herself in the room, now the only place she feels safe, refusing to leave when the summer rental is up. "For outside you have to creep on the ground, and everything is green instead of yellow. But here I can creep smoothly on the floor, and my shoulder just fits in that long smooch around the wall, so I cannot lose my way."Wikipedia… (more)
Recently added byejmw, private library, ghostiereads, miopia, qmpz, LoveMehta, slothyjade, Melline, mkfs
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1890s (16)
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English (121)  German (1)  All languages (122)
Showing 1-5 of 121 (next | show all)
If Henry James and his The Turn of the Screw is an example of gothic horror at its best, then this extremely short novella has to be an example of how the subject of descent into madness can be written about without it becoming long winded and overly graphic.

The characters in this novella expertly reflect the role of women during the late 19th century and their position in the male dominated society in which they live. Written in the first person, this short read is the diary of a woman’s descent into madness courtesy of the ‘I’m the man, I know better attitude’ of her Husband. Only to be expected in a piece of writing of this length, no time has been wasted on giving complex back stories to the main character and her husband, which adds to the sheer desperation the reader feels coming out of the page as they read. No hint is to be given as to what kind of a woman would allow herself to be so crushed and dominated by the whims of one single person and, because of this, it is rather easy for a female reader to instil their own sense of indignation into their readings, not taking into consideration the differences in societal norms that are acceptable in the 21st versus the 19th century.

At first read it is easy to miss the impact this piece of writing has on the reader; it appears choppy and has no obvious flow to it which for some readers may be cause enough for them to disregard it as being badly written. However, due to its short length, it is deserves to be re-read and then mused upon. Yes it is choppy but we are reading the writings if the descent into madness, and in this it takes on a kind of brooding presence that lingers with the reader long after they have the closed the back cover. If raw chaos could be described I would say it was in the wallpaper, and the way in which the mind can draw the most damming of things out of simple objects comes into play here. What I did find interesting, and an example of how the novella had made me think was that after reading it for the second time I watched several film shorts based on it, each being different in their interpretation of the words, but all having one thing in common; the chaos brought into one woman’s life by the wallpaper.

If you have an hour to spare and are not sure what to do with it, or don’t want to start reading a long novel, may I suggest you take a look at this. Whether or not you enjoy reading it will be based on how you interpret the words but one thing I can guarantee is that you will not forget it in a hurry.


Originally reviewed on: http://catesbooknuthut.com/2015/06/19/review-the-yellow-wallpaper-charlotte-perk...





This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
( )
  Melline | Aug 13, 2022 |
Wow, this is a powerful short-story that makes quite a statement about insanity, the need of a woman to have choices and independence, and the unintentional cruelties of those who fail to listen or acknowledge another's suffering. I was stunned by how much Gilman managed to say in so few pages.

( )
  mattorsara | Aug 11, 2022 |
What a fascinating story and depiction of mental illness. ( )
  DominiqueDavis | Aug 9, 2022 |
An unnamed woman goes with her husband and family to a mansion in the country. The reason for the move is so she can recover from an unamed ailment of the nerves she got after having given birth to her first child.



So she is kept away from the rest of the family in an old room with yellow wallpaper. The windows are barred. She is to be kept isolated from everything that might upset her nerves.

But with nothing else to occupy her time and only minimal human contact she starts to think the yellow wallpaper is changing and that she can see figures moving about in there. She becomes convinced she must free them.

Her husband slowly but surely becomes her enemy as not only has he locked her up he also refuses to let her write.But she manages to hide her diary from her husband and starts describing her time in the room. And the story we are reading is her diary

"The Yellow Wallpaper" may be one of the creepiest short stories I have ever read.Very smart people might go on and on about how its a symbolic of the woman in the story being oppressed by the patriarcharal victorian society. And I guess it is all that too. seeing as its based on the authors own experience with a dumbass husband.

But when I read it I didnt think of any of that. To me it was pure psychological horror wich is something quite different from ghosts and vampires scaring you.With those you know why you are scared but in this type of story its a kind of creeping unease because its such a mundane thing as wallpaper but its made into something terrifying because you see it through the eyes of a (possibly) mad person.

All I can say I felt like I was inside the room with the narrator and the ending really stays with you.
( )
  Litrvixen | Jun 23, 2022 |
Another story about he slow process of loosing one's mind, it had a major twist and it took me a while to understand what really happened, but a great read. ( )
  Bookslesstravelled | Apr 15, 2022 |
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» Add other authors (29 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gilman, Charlotte Perkinsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barkat, SaraIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hedges, Elaine R.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
O'Farrell, MaggieIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Potter, KirstenNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Dedication
to my mother, who encourages me [by Sara Barkat, illustrator of the unabridged graphic novel edition]
First words
It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer.
Quotations
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.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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)

"The Yellow Wallpaper" is a 6,000-word short story by the American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in January 1892 in The New England Magazine. It is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature.Presented in the first person, the story is a collection of journal entries written by a woman (Jane) whose physician husband (John) has confined her to the upstairs bedroom of a house he has rented for the summer. She is forbidden from working and has to hide her journal from him, so she can recuperate from what he calls a "temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency," a diagnosis common to women in that period. The windows of the room are barred, and there is a gate across the top of the stairs, allowing her husband to control her access to the rest of the house.The story depicts the effect of confinement on the narrator's mental health and her descent into psychosis. With nothing to stimulate her, she becomes obsessed by the pattern and color of the wallpaper. "It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw - not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things. But there is something else about that paper - the smell! ... The only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A yellow smell."In the end, she imagines there are women creeping around behind the patterns of the wallpaper and comes to believe she is one of them. She locks herself in the room, now the only place she feels safe, refusing to leave when the summer rental is up. "For outside you have to creep on the ground, and everything is green instead of yellow. But here I can creep smoothly on the floor, and my shoulder just fits in that long smooch around the wall, so I cannot lose my way."Wikipedia

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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.
A woman and her husband rent a summer house, but what should be a restful getaway turns into a suffocating psychological battle. This chilling account of postpartum depression and a husband’s controlling behavior in the guise of treatment will leave you breathless.
This Inwood Commons Modern Edition updates Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s classic so that it’s as easy to read and as relevant as if it was written today. The book also includes the author’s argument to Congress for women’s voting rights, her reasons for writing The Yellow Wallpaper, two essays from modern scholars, and the original unedited versions in appendices.
Haiku summary
She makes her own friends
to escape her depression.
Fall into madness.
(DeusXMachina)

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