Since its original publication in The New England Magazine in May 1892 and its subsequent resurrection by modern feminists in the l970's, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's novella, "The Yellow Wallpaper" has gone through varied interpretations. When it was originally written, "The Yellow Wallpaper" was considered a tale of horror, so horrible in fact, that one editor, Horace Scudder of the Atlantic Monthly, refused the work because he did not want to make others as miserable as he was when he read it. Even as late as 1971, Gilman's work was anthologized under the category of horror (Kennard 75).
It was not until the work was rediscovered and republished in 1973 that modern feminist critics recognized the female hero as a victim of society (Kennard 75). However, "The Yellow Wallpaper" is more than a story with a fictional character; it is the story of its creator. Gilman, as well as her heroine, suffered through postpartum depression. She not only had to fight the depression and isolation of being a mother but also the social mores of the time which did not condone career-minded mothers. Society's prime guardians of the status quo in this instance were the medical doctors who found it necessary to treat women who were less than happy in their domestic roles. In her case, the treatment was administered by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell for whom Gilman stated she wrote "The Yellow Wallpaper" (The Living of CPG 121). Gilman recognized that she needed to escape the confinement of the home before she could become a career woman who also happened to be a mother. It was through "The Yellow Wallpaper" that the transition from homebound mother to career mother began.
The feelings she experienced as a new mother were not unlike those of ma...
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...Gilman: An Autobiography. New York and London: D. Appleton-Century Co. (1935)
Rpt. As The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. New York: Harper & Row, Colophon Books, 1975.
---. "Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper". Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Study of the Short Fiction. Ed. Denise D Knight. New York, Twayne Publishers, 1997. 106-107.
Hill, Mary A. Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Making of a Radical Feminist, 1860-1896. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1980.
Kennard, Jean E. "Convention Coverage or How to Read Your Own Life." New Literary History 13 (Autumn 1981): 69-88.
Palis, James., et al. "The Hippocratic Concept of Hysteria: A Translation of the Original Texts." Integrative Psychiatry 3.3 (1985): 226-228.
Smith-Rosenberg, Carroll "The Hysterical Woman: Sex Roles and Role Conflict in 19th-Century America," Social Research 39 (Winter 1972): 652-78
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- ... Weir Mitchell. Dr. Mitchell was known for his vast knowledge of hysterical and nervous habits of women. After learning of Gilman’s condition, Mitchell prescribed the “rest cure”, where she was directed to “live as domestic a life as far possible,” to “have but two hours intellectual life a day,” and to “never touch pen, brush, or pencil as long as she lived” (Why I wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”). After months with little resolution of her depression, Gilman decided to stop following Dr. Mitchell’s recommendations.... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
1790 words (5.1 pages)
- ... One of the main conflicts in the narrator’s life is her lack of freedom in the environment that she lives in. The narrator never wanted to be in the confined environment her husband placed her in, but she stayed in the room with the yellow wallpaper out of respect for her husband and to not inconvenience him. “He overrides her judgments on the best course of treatment for herself as he would on any issue, making her live in a house she does not like, in a room she detests, and in an isolated environment which makes her unhappy and lonely” (Magill).... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
754 words (2.2 pages)
- ... The title suggests that the uncanny will be connected with objects, particularly with the house and the wallpaper: ‘Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it,’ and later: “I 'm getting really fond of the room in spite of the wallpaper. Perhaps because of the wallpaper (Stetson 650)”. Despite her initial dissatisfaction towards the room, the unhomely slowly becomes homely for the woman. Her feeling transitions from finding the room dull in the beginning to later being obsessed with the room.... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
1034 words (3 pages)
- ... When the narrator shares her thoughts and concerns about the estate with John, he laughs at her. (Perkins-Gillman, Charlotte par.5) By laughing at her, John’s self-centered attitude is a direct reflection of underestimating the gripping hold of nervous depression. Moreover, his laughing proves John is self-centered and ill-natured. John being a doctor gives him the advantage he so desperately desires to control every aspect of her life by telling her what she needs and what kind of treatment she should undergo.... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
1389 words (4 pages)
- ... John even kept his wife from seeing her baby because he claimed that she can’t take care of her child. The psychological affects this could have on a person varies and depends, but chances are it won’t be good. The narrator would also often write in her journal behind John’s back because John was very controlling and if he had found out he would stop it. John suggested that writing isn’t good for his wife and should only just sleep and get rest. This was basically prison for the narrator she had to obey John’s controlling rules because she didn’t want to upset her husband.... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
1403 words (4 pages)
- ... He belittles her in their marriage and treats her as a child. It is seen when he says “What is it, little girl?” (Gilman 661) after she wakes him from checking out the wallpaper. Her husband comes off loving and caring to most at first glance. However if you study him, you can see it is just to gain ground and easily becomes in control. John has basically taken away her right to make decisions on what is best for her wellbeing. Even with all his controlling ways the narrator still fights back.... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
1347 words (3.8 pages)
- ... Jane went mad because John not let her go anywhere. She just had to be lying in her room and was not allowed to write because she have to rest, in the way she can recover faster. He did not want her to leave the house because he thought her illness would get worse. Jane wanted to visit her family, but John said no, this is a form of lack of freedom. The narrator says, “I wish he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Julia. But John says, I wasn’t able to go, not able to stand it after I got there: and I did not make out a very case for myself” (Gilman 651).... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
1072 words (3.1 pages)
- ... Silas Weir Mitchell prescribed the “rest cure” for Gilman to follow. This is a reflection of what the narrator’s husband prescribed. Most physicians were men during this time and had no knowledge of what caused Gilman’s suffering. In the article, “Bed Rest Wouldn’t Do For Pioneering Feminist,” it states that Dr. Mitchell debated “the woman question” and believed if women did other things outside of their domestic roles, it would be the cause of neurasthenia. “As one of the many physicians who debated “the woman question,” he defended the notion of significant differences between the sexes and argued that an epidemic of neurasthenia, or nervous exhaustion, was rife among women who attempt... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
1307 words (3.7 pages)
- ... He uses excuses and brushes off her confessions by basically saying it is hogwash and she is really doing better because he is a physician and knows what’s best. In addition to her issues with john, she believes a woman (or women) is stuck behind the bars of the yellow wallpaper. Others could interpret the women allegorically by seeing the woman as the same woman behind the wallpaper. She is trapped under her duties and culture roles as a woman in the late 1800s, which is submissive and obedient to her husband’s authority with very light questioning of that authority.... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
835 words (2.4 pages)
- The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman Charlotte Perkins Gilman's, "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a partial autobiography. It was written shortly after the author suffered a nervous breakdown. This story was written to help save people from being driven crazy. Appropriately, this short story is about a mentally disturbed woman and her husband's attempts to help her get well. He does so by convincing her that solitude and constant bed rest is the best way to cure her problem.... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman The Yellow Wallpaper]
1488 words (4.3 pages)