The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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“The Yellow Wallpaper”, written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman tells the tale of a woman succumbing to madness following postpartum depression. First published in 1892, it stands out as a piece of early American feminist literature and it reflects 19th century society’s attitude towards women’s health -- both physical and mental. In the beginning of “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the narrator and her husband take vacation to the countryside to give the narrator some time to rest and recover. As the story progresses, the narrator becomes more and more bothered by the wallpaper in the room in which she is staying. At the end, the narrator finally loses it and her husband faints upon seeing how insane she has become.
The narrator, referred to as Jane, has been suffering from what her husband, who is a physician, believes is a “temporary nervous depression.” He prescribes a “rest cure” where his wife just would just lie in bed all day and have limited “intellectual stimulation” or social interaction. Jane and her husband take a summer vacation to a country estate, where the husband believes the fresh air will aid in his wife’s recovery. She’s placed in a room on the top floor of the house despite wanting to stay in a smaller room on the first floor. Jane passes some time writing, but she doesn’t want her husband to find out, so she begins to occupy herself with the wallpaper of the room. She hates this wallpaper, but is also oddly fascinated by it.
As the story progresses, Jane’s fascination with the wallpaper increases. She becomes too weak to write and devotes all of her time to studying the wallpaper. She begins to see shapes in the wallpaper -- to start off with, it looks to her as it is filled with “absurd, unblinking eyes.” The more she...


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...key is. Once he is in the room, Jane tells him, "I 've got out at last, in spite of you and Jane. And I 've pulled off most of the paper, so you can 't put me back!" She believes that she is finally liberated, but she has also lost her sanity. Her husband faints upon seeing his wife’s mental state totally declined and Jane continues to creep around the room and even creep over his unconscious body.
To summarize the story, Jane is driven mad by lack of treatment for postpartum depression. Her husband dismisses it as a temporary nervous disorder and orders her to rest and that all will soon be well. From being stuck in a room with limited activity and social interaction, Jane drives herself mad. The reader sees Jane’s descent into madness through her eyes and through her writing, the woman trapped in the wallpaper could be symbolical of Jane losing her grip on reality.

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