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The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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“The Yellow Wallpaper” details the deterioration of a woman’s mental health while she is on a “rest cure” on a rented summer country estate with her family. Her obsession with the yellow wallpaper in her bedroom marks her descent into psychosis from her depression throughout the story.

Diagnosed by her physician husband with a “temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency” after the birth of her child, a woman is urged to rest for the summer in an old colonial mansion. Forbidden from doing work of any kind, she spends her days in the house’s former nursery, with its barred windows, scratched floor, and peeling yellow wallpaper.

In a private journal, the woman records her growing obsession with the “horrid” wallpaper. Its strange pattern mutates in the moonlight, revealing what appears to be a human figure in the design. With nothing else to occupy her mind, the woman resolves to unlock the mystery of the wallpaper. Her quest, however, leads not to the truth, but into the darkest depths of madness.

A condemnation of the patriarchy, The Yellow Wallpaper explores with terrifying economy the oppression, grave misunderstanding, and willful dismissal of women in late nineteenth-century society.

First published in January 1892 in The New England Magazine.

Excerpt:
Out of another I get a lovely view of the bay and a little private wharf belonging to the estate. There is a beautiful shaded lane that runs down there from the house. I always fancy I see people walking in these numerous paths and arbors, but John has cautioned me not to give way to fancy in the least. 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.

Type

Hardcover, Paperback

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