The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Stetson
Published January 1892
Genres: Classics, Short Story, Fiction, Horror, Gothic, Feminism
First published in 1892, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is written as the secret journal of a woman who, failing to relish the joys of marriage and motherhood, is sentenced to a country rest cure. Though she longs to write, her husband and doctor forbid it, prescribing instead complete passivity. In the involuntary confinement of her bedroom, the hero creates a reality of her own beyond the hypnotic pattern of the faded yellow wallpaper–a pattern that has come to symbolize her own imprisonment. Narrated with superb psychological and dramatic precision, “The Yellow Wallpaper” stands out not only for the imaginative authenticity with which it depicts one woman’s descent into insanity, but also for the power of its testimony to the importance of freedom and self-empowerment for women.
The more I think about this book the deeper my mind wanders. This book has such a powerful message and a shocking execution. The book is written like a diary by a woman (who is unnamed, but I suspect her name might be Jane because of something she says near the end) who goes to stay in a state house. She says from the beginning that she is ill, and she hopes to get better, but does not say how she is sick. She does say however that her husband is a physician who is taking care of her.
From the first page the short story is dark and gripping. It spirals down into insanity as it goes on, and it becomes hard to differentiate between what is happening and what the woman believes is happening. She keeps talking about the yellow wallpaper in her room, and as the story progresses she begins to see it differently, which I found extremely interesting.
This story touches on many types of imprisonment: that of the mind, of the physical world, of society, of her husband, etc. As the story progresses and the woman begins to loose her mind, the story gets a bit confusing, although it is still very interesting. The only part I had a problem with was the ending, considering it’s not quite clear what happened. However, I do highly recommend this book. It is a short read and definitely worth the time.
I am going to give The Yellow Wallpaper four out of five hearts.
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