The Yellow Wallpaper

“[…] 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.”

Author: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Genre: Short story, gothic, feminism, horror

Year: 1892

Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY

Length: 64 pages

ISBN: 1558611584

This short story came to me as part of my English Narrative class’s obligatory reading and, although the story undoubtedly strange, I was surprised at how much I ended up resonating with it.

At first, all you see is a general glimpse into this woman’s life but, as the narrative moves forward everything starts to change. At first, you’ll easily cross her out as straight out crazy but the perspective slowly shifts and you find yourself identifying with this character, seeing the world through her eyes. Of course, her obsession with the wallpaper seems a little excessive at first, but then you get new aspects of her life that make you understand what has lead this woman to this point. You start to get angry at her husband for not seeing (or better yet, ignoring) her wife’s state;

“He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction.
I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all care from me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more.”

you begin to be intrigued by that wallpaper pattern yourself…

“I really have discovered something at last. Through watching so much at night, when it changes so, I have finally found out. The front pattern does move – and no wonder!”

And the ending, god, the ending. It’s so unexpected yet fits so perfectly well with the rest of the narrative.

I was incredibly impressed with this story not just because the previous short stories we’d been asked to read were incredibly bland, awkward or straight out weird, but because you rarely see such vivid, creative and even human depiction of important issues such as abusive relationships and severe depression.

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