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‘It is stripped off the paper in great patches The colour is repellent In the places where it isn’t faded and where the sun is just so I can see a strange provoking formless sort of figure that seems to skulk about ’Based on the author’s own experiences 'The Yellow Wallpaper' is the chilling tale of a woman driven to the brink of insanity by the ‘rest cure’ prescribed after the birth of her child Isolated in a crumbling colonial mansion in a room with bars on the windows the tortuous pattern of the yellow wallpaper winds its way into the recesses of her mindCharlotte Perkins Gilman was America’s leading feminist intellectual of the early twentieth century


10 thoughts on “The Yellow Wall Paper A Story

  1. says:

    ”If a physician of high standing and one’s own husband assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression a slight hysterical tendency what is one to do?”Well one must uit being a silly goose and get better The baby is fine; thank goodness the baby is fine It is safe safe in another room Away from the horrid yellow wallpaper This wallpaper is an artistic monstrosity an assault on the senses It is so yellow it reeks ofyellow ”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” In such a room too a beautiful room with windows and light John brought her here for a vacation away from the daily cares of their normal lives to help her with her nervousness She hasn’t been the same since the baby was born She knows that not that she was ever normal before but something has shifted an awareness of self that is tuned to a different freuency The wallpaper is hideous It claws at her mind She should be happy after all there is the baby The girl is taking such good care of her baby ”I cry at nothing and cry most of the time Of course I don’t when John is here or anybody else but when I am alone”It doesn’t happen if no one sees it or hears it In the middle of the night lit by moonlight the wallpaper moves She touches it; she studies it ”The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern just as if she wanted to get out”She must write They don’t want her to write but those who write must write It is not enough to write in the mind The words must be taken from her mind to make room for words Words are precision clarity sanity John thinks it is best for her to rest in the room The room has become the extent of her universe and the wallpaper is alive than she is ”All those strangled heads and bulbous eyes and waddling fungus growths just shriek with derision” If she escapes the wallpaper what then? I kept thinking as I was reading this story that I hope Robert Louis Stevenson had the chance to read it but probably not This story was published in 1892 He bought a place in Samoa in 1890 and was cut off from most of the literary world until his death in 1894 It is certainly a story that would have appealed to his own obsession with the horrors of the mind The building tension from a fairly typical domestic scene to the final horrors is so gothic and is still sending a cascade of shivers down my spine Charlotte Perkins Gilman grew up under the tutelage of women who believed strongly in euality Her father’s aunts Isabella Beecher Hooker a suffragist Harriet Beecher Stowe and Catharine Beecher helped raise her after her father abandoned the family Charlotte tried marriage She even had a baby Those attempts at being “normal” didn’t work out but it did give us this wonderful autobiographical and in my opinion nearly perfect short story Charlotte grew up in an era where it was difficult for women to have any say in their fate If they became too “hysterical” they were locked up in an insane asylum They were seen as delicate creatures incapable of making rational decisions for themselves I still believe that many women suffer from postpartum depression and still feel the need to hide their symptoms After all aren’t they supposed to be joyfully happy to be new mothers? There are too many women still trapped in the walls behind yellow wallpaper When Charlotte Perkins Gilman finds out she is dying of breast cancer in 1935 she takes control of her fate In her suicide note she writes that she ”chose chloroform over cancer” In the end she escapes the yellow wallpaper on her own terms If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at


  2. says:

    If a physician of high standing and one's own husband assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do? This may not be a ghost story but it is a tale of horror just the same The most frightening books do not make me cower underneath my covers in the dark They give the feeling of despair they make the reader empathize with the darkness and emotional turmoil of the narrator They make one feel claustrophobicWomen's mental problems have always been dismissed as hysteria from the beginning of time It is this overwhelming diminution of mental problems that led to so many being institutionalized in the past and it is the reason why the repressed Victorian woman was such a tremendous symbol of the ageThat mentally unsound character recurs again in this little short story an exceptionally fine example of how a woman neglected belittled dismissed descends into insanity


  3. says:

    The Yellow Wall Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman written in 1892 is considered a story that is a leading feminist view about a woman's place in a traditional marriage during that time period Gilman herself was an intellectual voice and staunch supporter of women's rights in marriage Most leading magazines refused to publish this story and it was lost for many years Once recovered it has become an often talked about story in many literary anthologies The protagonist of this story is taken to the country to recover from an unnamed illness Upon finding out that the nurse cares for the baby one is lead to believe that the illness is postpartum depression leading to a mental breakdown The protagonist's husband and brother are both doctors and believe that the country would help lead to her recovery Both men believe that women are for the most part subservient to men The husband calls her my girl and lamb all tender words of affection denouncing her feelings As a result the suffering woman is brought to the country against her better wishes While in the country she stays in a room with crumbling yellow wallpaper Rather than improving her health the patterns lead her to a greater state of mental illness She creates stories out of the supposed paisley design and has delusions that a woman from the paper is out to get her Before it became decent to speak of mental illness the best way to gain one's health was through treat and fresh air In this case the rest caused the protagonist to suffer greatly leading to her demise much like the story's author The Yellow Wall Paper was not as much of a literary masterpiece but a landmark noting a woman's place in a marriage and what could occur to women following the birth of her children Gilman's work is now widely studied but denounced upon publication More than one hundred years later The Yellow Wall Paper is a worthy study and a story that leads to invoking discussions


  4. says:

    Unbelievable Incredible and compelling story If it were nothing but a horror it succeeded If it were someone's depiction of what her real life reaction was like to a very harmful medical treatment was which it is it succeeded I'll be reading this many times


  5. says:

    Here follows the diary of a moronic Victorian husband Three days before treatment I’ve got a great idea 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 Our marriage simply doesn’t restrain her faculties enoughIt makes sense you see I got the idea from the prestigious Dr Silas Mitchell 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 At the end of six weeks to two months of such treatment he says the women would be good as new So I’m going to try this on my wife Can you not see the sheer intellect behind the idea? This will solve everything just you wait and see 1 day into treatmentI’ve restricted my wife’s freedom incredibly 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 I don’t have time for them I’m a man you see So that means respectability and shutting down any sign of emotion I told her to go to sleep this will soon be over 7 days into treatmentI 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 She can’t be jotting down such nonsense and expressing her thoughts I told her to stop She doesn’t need the distraction She needs to be well again for my sake 14 days into treatmentMy 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 silly notions What she clearly needs is restriction That’s the only way she will get over her aliment 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 I’ve got man things to do in the morning 30 days into treatmentMy 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 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 The truly scary thing about this story is how real it is This is the rest cure Victorian women were subjected to and the journal I wrote here is the ridiculous rationale that drove it The author of this story was actually administered this “cure” Her own experienced informed her narrator’s perspective It’s terrible that something like this had to be written to show how stupid these ideas were This is a very powerful story and this was a very stupid husband Penguin Little Black Classic 42 The Little Black Classic Collection by penguin looks like it contains lots of hidden gems I couldn’t help it; they looked so good that I went and bought them all 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


  6. says:

    My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death One or the other of us has to goOscar Wilde’s alleged final words International Women’s Day is perfect for reviewing this chilling short story written by a utopian feminist in 1890 Yes I opened with Wilde but I couldn’t resist and he was also a victim of sexually related prejudice The Story John’s wife Jennie’s sister in law A baby’s mother She is anonymous She writes furtively She is physically and mentally weak from “temporary nervous depression a slight hysterical tendency” She is confined to rest in an attic room of a rented house on the advice of her doctor husband A room with such ghastly yellow wallpaper that it becomes an obsession exacerbating rather than alleviating her mental instability But they’re staying in a hyperbolically “beautiful place” with a “delicious garden” Everyone is kind and caring and lovely Her doting suffocating husband Her sister in law running the house helping care for her And Mary who “is so good with the baby” It’s clear to the reader that the infantalising constraints and prohibition of mental and physical stimuli are as life sapping as any leaden cage despite the shiny padlock She is cast deeper into the pit of helplessness her husband addresses her as “little girl” What’s less certain is the motive of her carers Is she inherently mad being manipulated or just overly pampered?When she chastises herself you hear the insidious and undermining words of others “I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes I'm sure I never used to be so sensitive I think it is due to this nervous condition” The uestion is how to get better compliance defiance or psychological escape The Wall PaperThe descriptions start off comically horrid but realistic“ One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide plunge off at outrageous angles destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions a smouldering unclean yellow”As the narrator loses her hold on reality the patterns seem to morph in sinister but enticing ways with the changing light I was reminded of the Magic Eye pictures that were all the rage for a few years in the 1990s but which I never learned to “see” in 3D The True StoryThis is semi autobiographical but it wasn’t post partum psychosis that ended Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s life nor the frustrations of patriarchal and controlling rest cures It was not even the breast cancer that tried its damndest In her own words she took control and chose chloroform over cancer NowadaysWith an autocratic misogynist recently elected as the most powerful person in the world the suppression of women’s autonomy whether clothed in good intentions or not is as important an issue as ever The war for euality is not yet won Sources Notes and LinksYou can read the story free on Project Gutenberg HEREFor a slightly different but eually provoking take on a similar situation see The Victorian Chaise Longue my review HERE in which an invalid young mother in 1940s50s is transported whether for real or in her delusions to the mind and body of a woman with a similar condition but in earlier even less enlightened timesImage source for yellow wallpaper compulsion to pick and peel one’s skin is called dermatillomania or neurotic excoriation It is usually considered on the OCD spectrum a repetitive ritualistic and tension reducing form of self harm Peeling wall paper is clearly less harmful to the body as to the state of mind?


  7. says:

    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 beingOn the one hand he is very controlling – and his wife sees that as a display of love On the other hand he carries her up the stairs to conserve her energy and tells her to get well uickly because he can’t live without her – and she is unable to respond appropriatelyTheir bedroom has yellow wallpaper which she becomes fixated on She describes the pattern and the ‘sick yellow’ of its colour many times and you can watch her mind grappling with reality the she talks about the wallpaper It becomes an obsession and the she sees the we can see that she is on a slippery slope with no one to pull her backThis 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 She hid her feelings from her husband and sister in law and what was at first a desire to “put a good face on it” became dangerous deception and deliberate avoidance Even toward herselfThis is an amazing piece of writing and worth reading for the experience of better understanding mental illness and how it can subtly infect all areas of a person’s life


  8. says:

    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 1892 as relevant as it is haunting Many people know the story of how Gilman's narrator is forbidden to write by her husbanddoctor and fights for autonomy in the patterns of wallpaper 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


  9. says:

    The first time I read this 1892 short story years ago in a collection of horror stories I thought awful and very creepy things were really happening to the main character; ie weird fungus growing wallpaper and a weirder lady actually hiding in the wallpaper pattern of a young wife's room in their vacation home I was a little young and often oblivious to subtext On second read or probably first read for most people it's clear that the horror is of a different sort the main character a young wife suffering from anxiety or depression has been isolated and kept inactive for her own good and she is slowly going psychotic It's still uite creepy but in a very different wayThere'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 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 illnessGutenberg freebie here


  10. says:

    “He says that with my imaginative power and habit of story making a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies and that I ought to use my will and good sense to check the tendency So I try”Read in conjunction with Ibsen’s A Doll's House this short story takes a darker turn than the play refusing to offer a way out of a dilemma in 19th century traditional societyThe 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 allTwo mindsets and worldviews clash On one side there is the “rational husband” a physician who calls his wife “little girl” and forces her to passivity as he claims agitation and stimulation are feeding her imagination in a detrimental way 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 thoughtsOn the other hand there is the young woman herself with a strong wish to express herself creatively in writing opposing the so called benevolent dictatorship in secret hiding her true feelings and thoughts in front of the husband who is “very caring and loving and hardly lets me stir without special direction” And he “hates to have me write a word”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“It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide plunge off at outrageous angles destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions”The fight she puts up against the symbolical wallpaper makes one remember Oscar Wilde’s alleged last words “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death One or the other of us has to go”Behind the irony and wit there is a sense of deadly pain in the face of lost beauty and aesthetic value 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 in full control of all aspects of community especially creative and sexual practices A Room of One's Own so necessary to creative processes according to Virginia Woolf’s idea turns into a prison if there is no freedom of thought and movement to feed imagination and no financial independence to be able to make a choice 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 1984 named them properlyStill readable enjoyable and thought provoking Recommended