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The Yellow Wallpaper

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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.

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.

63 pages, Kindle Edition

First published January 10, 1892

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About the author

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

732 books1,548 followers
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, also known as Charlotte Perkins Stetson, was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and a lecturer for social reform. She was a utopian feminist during a time when her accomplishments were exceptional for women, and she served as a role model for future generations of feminists because of her unorthodox concepts and lifestyle. Her best remembered work today is her semi-autobiographical short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper", which she wrote after a severe bout of post-partum depression.

She was the daughter of Frederic B. Perkins.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 11,991 reviews
November 17, 2014
If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do?
This may not be a ghost story, but it is a tale of horror just the same. The most frightening books do not make me cower underneath my covers in the dark. They give the feeling of despair, they make the reader empathize with the darkness and emotional turmoil of the narrator. They make one feel claustrophobic.

Women's mental problems have always been dismissed as hysteria, from the beginning of time. It is this overwhelming diminution of mental problems that led to so many being institutionalized in the past, and it is the reason why the repressed Victorian woman was such a tremendous symbol of the age.

That mentally unsound character recurs again in this little short story, an exceptionally fine example of how a woman, neglected, belittled, dismissed, descends into insanity.
Profile Image for Federico DN.
402 reviews817 followers
September 10, 2023
Well, looky here!

Ailing woman narrator takes a break from the city and settles on a rental country house to rest and recover her health after childbirth. Her physician husband taking exhaustive vigilance on her well being. The new accommodations are wonderful, ample space, a beautiful garden, and a personal maid attending her every need. It’s just that nursery room with its hideous yellow wallpaper. Horrid, foul smelling, and its perplexing looking pattern. As time goes by things don’t get any better, in fact, there seems to be something mysterious moving behind it. Some kind of…

This was very weird, the story, the format, and especially the ending. I don’t mind weird but when I’m not sure what I’m reading, weird is not that enjoyable. Having to read an explanation elsewhere to be sure of what you just read is never a good sign. I think the story is good, maybe even very good; but I think it could have used a few more pages to smooth some things over, and more discernible transitions between each diary entry. The ending was also way too abrupt and open ended for my liking.

Overall it's super quick and I think it’s worth the thirty minutes. A powerful take on mental health and early feminism. Quite interested in reading more short stories from the author, already have a collection ready.

It’s public domain. You can find it HERE.

Still remaining, The Yellow Wallpaper (2021)

[1892] [64p] [Classics] [Conditional Recommendable]

★★★★☆ The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories
★★★☆☆ The Yellow Wallpaper


¡Vaya, pero miren esto!

Narradora mujer convaleciente se toma un descanso de la ciudad y se aloja en una casa de campo rentada para recuperar su salud después de parir. Su esposo médico tomando exhaustiva vigilancia sobre su bienestar. Las nuevas acomodaciones son estupendas, amplio espacio, un hermoso jardín, y una mucama personal atendiendo cada una de sus necesidades. Es tan sólo esa guardería con ese horrible empapelado amarillo. Horroroso, apestoso, y con ese tan perplejo patrón de ver. Con el tiempo las cosas están lejos de mejorar, en efecto, parece incluso que algo misterioso se mueve detrás de él. Una especie de…

¡Esto fue muy raro! La historia, el formato, y especialmente el final. No me importa lo raro pero cuando no estoy seguro que es lo que estoy leyendo, raro no se vuelve muy disfrutable. Tener que leer una explicación en otro lugar para estar seguro de lo que leíste no es nunca una buena señal. Creo que la historia es buena, tal vez muy buena; pero creo que podría haber usado un par de páginas más para suavizar ciertas cosas, y transiciones más discernibles entre cada entrada de diario. También el final se sintió demasiado abrupto y abierto para mi gusto.

Dentro de todo es super rápido y creo que vale los treinta minutos. Una poderosa toma sobre la salud mental e incipiente feminismo. Bastante interesado en leer más de los cuentos cortos de la autora, hasta tengo una colección lista.

Es dominio público, lo pueden encontrar ACA.

Queda pendiente, la película (2021)

[1892] [64p] [Clásicos] [Recomendable Condicional]
Profile Image for Brina.
933 reviews4 followers
April 4, 2017
The Yellow Wall Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman written in 1892 is considered a story that is a leading feminist view about a woman's place in a traditional marriage during that time period. Gilman herself was an intellectual voice and staunch supporter of women's rights in marriage. Most leading magazines refused to publish this story and it was lost for many years. Once recovered, it has become an often talked about story in many literary anthologies.

The protagonist of this story is taken to the country to recover from an unnamed illness. Upon finding out that the nurse cares for the baby, one is lead to believe that the illness is postpartum depression, leading to a mental breakdown. The protagonist's husband and brother are both doctors and believe that the country would help lead to her recovery. Both men believe that women are for the most part subservient to men. The husband calls her my girl and lamb, all tender words of affection, denouncing her feelings. As a result, the suffering woman is brought to the country against her better wishes.

While in the country, she stays in a room with crumbling, yellow wallpaper. Rather than improving her health, the patterns lead her to a greater state of mental illness. She creates stories out of the supposed paisley design and has delusions that a woman from the paper is out to get her. Before it became decent to speak of mental illness, the best way to gain one's health was through treat and fresh air. In this case, the rest caused the protagonist to suffer greatly, leading to her demise, much like the story's author.

The Yellow Wall Paper was not as much of a literary masterpiece but a landmark noting a woman's place in a marriage and what could occur to women following the birth of her children. Gilman's work is now widely studied but denounced upon publication. More than one hundred years later, The Yellow Wall Paper is a worthy study, and a story that leads to invoking discussions.

Profile Image for Cecily.
1,137 reviews4,185 followers
April 28, 2023
International Women’s Day is perfect for reviewing this chilling short story, written by a utopian feminist in 1890 - though I reread it and updated my review in August 2022.

The Story

John’s wife. A baby’s mother. Jennie’s... something (sister-in-law, patient, victim?). A doctor's patient. She is anonymous. She writes furtively, compulsively in the present tense.

She is physically and mentally weak from “temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency”. She is confined to rest in an attic room of a rented house, on the advice of her doctor husband. There are bars on the windows, which she assumes are because the room was a nursery. And such ghastly yellow wallpaper that it becomes an obsession - exacerbating, rather than alleviating her mental instability.

But they’re staying in a hyperbolically “beautiful place” with a “delicious garden”. Everyone is kind and caring and lovely. Her doting, suffocating husband. Her sister-in-law running the house. And staff helping care for her.
It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby.
It’s clear to the reader that the infantalising constraints and prohibition of mental and physical stimuli are as life-sapping as any leaden cage, despite the shiny padlock.

She is cast deeper into the pit of helplessness - her husband addresses her as “little girl”. What’s less certain is the motive of her carers. Is she inherently mad, being manipulated, or just overly-indulged?

Initially, her phrasing echoes the false cheer that she clearly hears every day.
You know the place is doing you good.” – Does she? Is it?
When she chastises herself, you hear the insidious and undermining words of others:
I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes. I'm sure I never used to be so sensitive. I think it is due to this nervous condition.” - “Unreasonably”
As she becomes more obsessed with the wallpaper, she starts watching her carers:
I am getting a little afraid of John.

The question is how to recover: compliance, defiance, or psychological escape?
Also, how mad is she? Maybe it's caused by her incarceration (and the wallpaper)?

Image: “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.” Oscar Wilde’s alleged final words.” (Source)"

The Wall-Paper

The descriptions start off comically horrid, but realistic:

One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin. It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide - plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions… a smouldering unclean yellow… There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down.

As the narrator loses her hold on reality, the patterns seem to morph in sinister but enticing ways, with the changing light. It's a form of pareidolia . I was also reminded of the Magic Eye pictures that were all the rage for a few years in the 1990s, but which I never learned to “see” in 3D.

She is increasingly sure there is a woman lurking behind the paper and starts picking, peeling, and removing paper. She can’t free herself, but maybe she can free this alter-ego.

The True Story

Gilman suffered from melancholia for many years. It seems to have started after the birth of her first child but continued long after. Her husband was an artist, not a doctor. A specialist in nervous diseases prescribed bed rest, then declared there was nothing much wrong with her and told her to “live as domestic a life as far as possible” and “have but two hours’ intellectual life a day… never to touch pen, brush, or pencil again”. Of course, that made things worse, so she ignored it. One of the results was this story. She even sent it to the doctor, but he never acknowledged it.

Her eventual death came when, in her own words, she took control and “chose chloroform over cancer”.


With autocratic misogynists on the ascendancy around the world, the suppression of women’s autonomy, sometimes clothed in pretended good intentions, is as important an issue as ever. The war for equality is far from won, and in some places, is in retreat.

My morphing wall

Throughout my childhood, I had a scary thing on the wall. Not wallpaper, but a picture that was something of an optical illusion. It's ostensibly a horse, but in my eyes, I would often see a goblin jockey who was scary in his own right, quite apart from his ability to hide. Most oddly of all, I never asked for it to be taken away, or even told anyone it scared me.

Image: The horse and goblin jockey from my room

See also

• A short and insightful essay, Why I Wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”, HERE.

• For a slightly different, but equally provoking take on a similar situation, see The Victorian Chaise Longue (my review HERE), in which an invalid young mother in 1940s/50s is transported (whether for real, or in her delusions) to the mind and body of a woman with a similar condition, but in earlier, even less enlightened times.

• There's a madwoman in an attic in Jane Eyre, which I reviewed HERE. Jean Rhys imagined her backstory in Wide Sargasso Sea, which I reviewed HERE.

• The compulsion to pick and peel one’s skin is called dermatillomania or neurotic excoriation. It is usually considered on the OCD spectrum: a repetitive, ritualistic, and tension-reducing form of self-harm. Peeling wall-paper is clearly less harmful, but perhaps the state of mind is similar?

Short story club

I reread this as one of the stories in The Art of the Short Story, by Dana Gioia, from which I'm aiming to read one story a week with The Short Story Club, starting 2 May 2022.

You can read this story here.

You can join the group here.
Profile Image for Zain.
1,463 reviews154 followers
September 19, 2023

After the birth of her son, a woman is diagnosed by her husband as suffering from a nervous disorder and hysteria.

Although, her husband is a physician, not a psychiatrist, he decides that time in the country is going to be good for her, so they rent a big old house in the country.

The narrator doesn’t like the wall paper in her room and tries to tell her husband, repeatedly. And like the “expert” he is, he ignores her.

She tries to explain the patterns and the horrific color and the images of the woman, but he only laughs at her and calls her “little girl.”

And then she becomes friends with the wall paper...and the patterns. And the woman in the wall paper escapes…

Five wonderful stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Profile Image for emma.
1,872 reviews54.8k followers
May 20, 2023
better late than never.

and the extremely unnecessary, redundant, and untimely reviews are in: this one is a classic for a reason!!!

this was creepy and well-written and compelling. crazy that i'm extolling the virtues of a short story everyone was required to read at the age of 14 and a half but i was late to the party and i still wanna hop on the bandwagon.

sorry for the mixed metaphors.

bottom line: put me in sophomore year english! i'm ready now!
Profile Image for Bionic Jean.
1,258 reviews1,135 followers
September 16, 2023
The Yellow Wallpaper is a short novella from 1892, which has become a classic of the genre. It is a claustrophobic depiction of what would then be described as a woman's descent into madness, but now sounds more like severe post-natal depression. The story consists of passages from a secret journal, kept by the woman, Jane, who is losing her grip on reality. The narrator is confined to the upstairs bedroom of a house by her doctor husband, John, who diagnoses a "temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency -". The windows of the room are barred, and there is a gate across the top of the stairs so that she has limited access to the rest of the house. She is also forbidden from working by her husband, whom she claims to comply with because he is a doctor.

It is not difficult to see how these constraints would exacerbate any tendency to depression! This story depicts the prevailing attitudes in the 19th century toward women, in particular their physical and mental health, promoting the view that they should live and be defined entirely by domestic considerations. Jane's husband is kindly and insufferably paternalistic, ""Bless her little heart!" said he with a big hug, "she shall be as sick as she pleases!"" referring to her indulgently as his "little girl". Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an author, philosopher, socialist and feminist. Her stories both analyse and criticise the role of women in society, at a time when men were very much dominant. The contemporary view is that such women were oppressed by their position in a patriarchal society.

In several of her later stories Gilman deals with a male-dominated medical establishment attempting to silence its women patients. In this one the narrator expresses the views that she should work instead of rest, and that she should go out in society more, instead of remaining isolated. She also thinks that she should not be separated and "protected" from her child, but should be able to see her child and allowed to be a mother. This is a modern perspective, and very much ahead of its time. True to the current conventions of behaviour though, Jane is silent, powerless, and passive, accepting her doctor-husband's authority in all things. It was stated by a medical journal of the time, that a physician must "assume a tone of authority" and that the idea of a "cured" woman was one who became "subdued, docile, silent, and above all subject to the will and voice of the physician."

The writing itself uses sentences with short interjections; questions burst through, as the narrator becomes increasingly delirious. This makes for a very unsettling read. One interpretation could be that since she has been forbidden to read or write, the given medical reason being that her "hysteria" needs "rest", she then starts to "read" the wallpaper, and feels increasingly trapped behind it. She first describes the wallpaper saying, "the colour is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight." It develops into an "optic horror, like a lot of wallowing seaweeds in full chase... interminable grotesques" She yearns for freedom, seeing through her bars to the outside, "A lovely country, too, full of great elms and velvet meadows."

She becomes obsessed by the wallpaper, its pattern appearing to change, "all those strangled heads and bulbous eyes and waddling fungus growths just shriek with derision!" The colour becomes more and more loathsome to her with a foul smell emanating from it. At night she is able to see a woman behind bars, trapped within its complicated design. "The woman behind shakes it!" The delusions increase, as does Jane's response to them. The ending is ambiguous, depending on how the reader has interpreted the story. Does she escape? Does she slip into irrevocable psychosis? Does she murder her husband?

Clearly though, this story is about disempowering women, even to the point of forbidding the tools for writing, in case "Jane" manages to express her own identity in that way. The bars and trapped woman are originally symbolic of the narrator's own confinement, but eventually she becomes subsumed in the many images of women that she sees.

The Yellow Wallpaper originated in Gilman's own experience, when she suffered from depression, and was ordered to lead a similar life to that of the narrator of this story. An eminent specialist prescribed a rest cure, recommending her to live a domestic a life as possible. She was only allowed two hours of mental stimulation a day, and writing materials were banned. She followed this directive for three months, becoming increasingly desperate. Eventually she felt herself slipping into a worse mental state, so rebelled and wrote The Yellow Wallpaper as a sort of therapy for herself, as well as alerting the public to what she considered a seriously misguided form of treatment. She said the story was, "not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked." Sometimes it is viewed simply as a horror story, but it is horrifying to a modern reader in additional ways to merely its gothic feel.

"There are things in that wallpaper that nobody knows but me, or ever will... so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast."
Profile Image for Adina .
892 reviews3,559 followers
December 10, 2021

The Yellow-Wallpaper is a short story about post-natal depression and a woman’s fall into psychosis. It is a story about how easy it is to be ignorant of mind diseases in comparison with physical ones. The woman’s husband, who is a doctor, fails to understand her and to offer the support she needs. Instead, his care transforms into oppression and makes the situation worse. The story is very much valid nowadays, there still is a stigma put on mental health and many people who are suffering are ignored or told to get a grip.

I know this is labelled as a feminist story. It is true that there are moments when the husband acts controlling towards the wife but I believe it is done mostly because of ignorance of her true problem than the oppression of women in general.
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,283 reviews2,451 followers
December 17, 2022
The description that this is a book published in 1892 about postpartum depression was more than enough for me to pick this one to read.

I have never heard about this book or the author before. So I started reading without any expectations. I was in for a huge surprise as this is a true masterpiece.

The author tells the story of a woman and her husband, John. She has been diagnosed with depression. With nothing to do, she gets obsessed with the color and pattern of the wallpaper. What will happen to her? Will she gets cured? Will she go into psychosis? Charlotte Perkins Gilman answers these questions through this book.

Considering the time at which it was written, we can easily say that such a sensitive topic is discussed brilliantly by the author.

My favorite three lines from this book.
“You think you have mastered it, but just as you get well underway in following, it turns a back-somersault and there you are. It slaps you in the face, knocks you down, and tramples upon you. It is like a bad dream.”

“I never saw a worse paper in my life. One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin.”

“But I MUST say what I feel and think in some way — it is such a relief! But the effort is getting to be greater than the relief.”

This book might just be 63 pages long, but it will make us contemplate our life, relationships, and mental health for a long time. This is a must-read book if you love to read books about mental health.
Profile Image for J.L.   Sutton.
666 reviews928 followers
November 11, 2018
The Yellow Wallpaper is a short but powerful masterpiece in which Charlotte Perkins Gilman offers insight into oppression and madness. It remains (despite being written in 1892) as relevant as it is haunting. Many people know the story of how Gilman's narrator is forbidden to write by her husband/doctor and fights for autonomy in the patterns of wallpaper. Liberation from his and society's oppression of women is only available in this internal struggle which ultimately leads to a mental breakdown and loss of identity.
Profile Image for Jaline.
444 reviews1,653 followers
August 17, 2017
This is not a happy story – not even in the slightest. Our protagonist and her husband and sister-in-law are spending 3 months in a rented home during renovations of their own home. The woman recently had a baby and has not been able to recover her energy nor the will to accomplish anything. She is a writer but her husband, a physician, tells her not to write because it will only add to her fanciful state of being.

On the one hand, he is very controlling – and his wife sees that as a display of love. On the other hand, he carries her up the stairs to conserve her energy and tells her to get well quickly because he can’t live without her – and she is unable to respond appropriately.

Their bedroom has yellow wallpaper which she becomes fixated on. She describes the pattern and the ‘sick yellow’ of its colour many times, and you can watch her mind grappling with reality the more she talks about the wallpaper. It becomes an obsession, and the more she sees, the more we can see that she is on a slippery slope with no-one to pull her back.

This sad story of a psychological breakdown spirals from low energy and spirits into a very dark place in its few pages. It serves as a cautionary tale because when asked, she insisted she was fine except for being tired. She hid her feelings from her husband and sister-in-law, and what was at first a desire to “put a good face on it” became dangerous deception and deliberate avoidance. Even toward herself.

This is an amazing piece of writing and worth reading for the experience of better understanding mental illness and how it can subtly infect all areas of a person’s life.
Profile Image for Tina.
543 reviews930 followers
October 12, 2021
A brilliant short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman written in 1892.

If you are a fan of old theatre or radio I recommend you listen to the audio production from a radio series called, "Suspense." This short story was featured with some audio effects and excellent narration by the late great Agnes Moorehead originally broadcast in 1957.

A lady that has recently given birth needs to convalescent to the countryside for the summer in a rambling old house. She begins to hear things in the room with, "The Yellow Wallpaper."

This is a very suspenseful production. Perfect for the Halloween season 🎃 A short but entertaining half an hour.

The story can be found at this link.
Profile Image for Pete Germuth.
1 review1 follower
December 6, 2021
This short story is a true classic, and there is no way to explain how satisfying and interesting it is to read. It follows an unreliable narrator who is suffering from postpartum depression in the 1800's. She suffers under a patriarchal society and isn't allowed to work or think or do anything, as this was the 'treatment' for her to get better. In reality this piece is most famous for being a subtle feminist critique, and although it delivers a strong and resonating message it is far more the that. The descriptions are absolutely gorgeous and enchanting and the vivid imagery ties it all together.

What I enjoyed most from the story was the fact that it is written as diary entries told through the perspective of the main character. This makes the narrator's insanity feel almost logical and her hallucinations and obsession with 'the yellow wallpaper' feels so real it could be perceived as normal. In my opinion, this short story is incredibly similar to 'The bell Jar' in that sense, since in this book Esther's mental illness is so normalized its terrifying yet intriguing. If you like this piece do be sure to check out 'The bell Jar' and Sylvia Plath's work.
Profile Image for Reading_ Tamishly.
4,477 reviews2,412 followers
October 1, 2023
This story is so well written!!! I cannot believe it was written way back in the 1890s.

(And people think mental health issues are made-up by the new generation!)

Books like this (both fiction and non-fiction) have opened up my eyes regarding mental health. Now I realise the general people and the medics have known the conditions for centuries now.

It's the stigma and discrimination like how it is represented in this short story that makes people hush up about these conditions and their consequences.

This story is so creepy at times but I was able to relate with the narrator and what she was trying to convey.

Most likely that she was suffering from postpartum depression but I can feel the discrimination of the other family members including her 'physician' husband towards her enough to hold her captive.

It's the way of human and how our minds work when we might turn into something else in that condition.

Sad but stories like this are still happening centuries after!
Profile Image for Maureen .
1,449 reviews7,061 followers
June 19, 2021
A splendid colonial mansion set back from the road, and three miles from the nearest village, is what our protagonist/narrator and her husband John are renting for the summer. This should be a restful time for the family, and in particular the lady of the house, who appears to be suffering from post natal depression/anxiety, and has an obsession with the yellow wallpaper in their bedroom. "There are things in that wallpaper that nobody knows but me, or ever will... so many of those creeping women, and they creep so fast."

Her husband John, is a controlling, patronising figure, who forces his wife into idleness, doesn’t allow her to do anything that she likes, therefore pushing her to the brink of madness.

A short story that has impact, here’s the link
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
April 11, 2018
The first time I read this 1892 short story, years ago, in a collection of horror stories, I thought awful and very creepy things were really happening to the main character; i.e., weird fungus-growing wallpaper and a weirder lady actually hiding in the wallpaper pattern of a young wife's room in their vacation home. <----- I was a little young and often oblivious to subtext.

On second read (or probably first read for most people ...), it's clear that the horror is of a different sort: the main character, a young wife suffering from anxiety or depression, has been isolated and kept inactive "for her own good," and she is slowly going psychotic. It's still quite creepy, but in a very different way.

There's a distinct layer of early feminism in this story, as well as a strong implication that the main character might have been able to work through her mental problems if she'd been allowed to do something interesting and productive rather than being pressured and forced into idleness. Apparently this kind of enforced rest and confinement was a standard medical treatment at the time, especially for women, who were deemed the more fragile sex. The author, Charlotte Gillman, felt strongly that this kind of treatment was counter-productive to mental health, rather than a cure.
This makes a nice companion read to The Tell-Tale Heart, another classic but very different story of mental illness.

Gutenberg freebie here.
Profile Image for Lisa.
991 reviews3,320 followers
April 19, 2018
“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.”

Read in conjunction with Ibsen’s A Doll's House, this short story takes a darker turn than the play, refusing to offer a way out of a dilemma in 19th century traditional society.

The story of a young married woman with an infant, who is patronised and controlled by her husband to the point of losing her sanity, is creepy, relevant, and not dated at all.

Two mindsets and worldviews clash.

On one side, there is the “rational husband”, a physician, who calls his wife “little girl” and forces her to passivity, as he claims agitation and stimulation are feeding her imagination in a detrimental way. He keeps her under surveillance, and she is asked to sleep and rest as much as possible, avoiding any kind of activity that can spark independent thoughts.

On the other hand, there is the young woman herself, with a strong wish to express herself creatively in writing, opposing the so-called benevolent dictatorship in secret, hiding her true feelings and thoughts in front of the husband, who is “very caring and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction”. And he “hates to have me write a word”.

The yellow wallpaper in her room becomes an obsessive symbol for the intellectual oppression the young woman experiences. It increasingly chokes her, until she lets go of her resistance and loses her sanity along with her hope to ever be able to live up to the limited version of life her prison guard is willing to grant her.

Her description of the yellow wallpaper is a mirror of her internal suffering, the contraction she feels and cannot solve. And it is an ominous sign of the only way she sees out of her hopeless dependency on a man who does not see her as a thinking human being, but rather as a decorative piece of furniture in his possession:

“It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame, uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide - plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions.”

The fight she puts up against the symbolical wallpaper makes one remember Oscar Wilde’s alleged last words: “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.”

Behind the irony and wit, there is a sense of deadly pain in the face of lost beauty and aesthetic value. Whether or not Oscar Wilde spoke those words, he died just a couple of years after the publication of this short story, a broken man after years in prison which destroyed his spirit and will to create. He too was a victim of a dominant heterosexual, male society, which could accept no exceptions to their preferred way of living: in full control of all aspects of community, especially creative and sexual practices.

A Room of One's Own, so necessary to creative processes according to Virginia Woolf’s idea, turns into a prison if there is no freedom of thought and movement to feed imagination, and no financial independence to be able to make a choice. The room, supervised by "benevolent" authority, turns into a dystopian scenario in the spirit of Orwell.

Thoughtcrime and doublethink were well-known to intelligent, captive women long before "1984" named them properly.

Still readable, enjoyable, and thought-provoking! Recommended!
Profile Image for Peter.
2,802 reviews501 followers
March 31, 2019
This is an extremely eerie and haunting story of a woman being depressed and not properly helped by her husband and other so called expert in a male dominated society. She begins to see patterns and faces within the wallpaper. The colour yellow is very important here. Does the confinement to that room has any positive impact on her health? Is there a cure for this woman and more important does the story end well? You really should give remarkable story a read. It's definitely worth more than one quick glance. Very interesting and highly recommended!
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
580 reviews4,087 followers
October 31, 2018
Aterradora, angustiosa y fascinante historia corta, que habla de tantísimas cosas en tan pocas páginas y con tanta claridad...
Una lectura con muchas capas, que me ha impactado y que recomiendo encarecidamente a absolutamente todo el mundo.
Profile Image for Fatima Osman.
1 review
December 8, 2021
On the surface, this short story is about a woman's descent into madness as she obsesses about seeing patterns and people in the yellow wallpaper of her room. On another level, it is about the stigma and downplaying of mental health (especially in the 1800s when the story was written), and the paternalistic treatment of women (often labeled "hysterical" and so on). By the end, the literal and metaphorical meanings mix and the narrator seems unable to separate herself from the figures behind the wallpaper.

It is a very short read. The language is also still very accessible, even 200 years after it was written. The topics dealt with still resonate today and provide fertile ground for analysis. Lastly, the overall tone of the piece is dark and macabre, which makes it that much more interesting to read.
Profile Image for María.
144 reviews3,096 followers
July 21, 2017
Excepcional cuento feminista donde la ALUCINANTE Charlotte muestra el papel opresivo y sumiso que vivían las mujeres burguesas. Cuánto me alegra que haya salido. Arrastrándose sí, pero salido al fin y al cabo. Qué bien sienta la libertad. Además, es una dura crítica al tratamiento psiquiátrico al que ella misma fue sometida y que casi la lleva a la locura. Chapó.

Profile Image for Mohamed El-shandidy.
122 reviews384 followers
August 7, 2022
" لا أعلم لمَ أكتب هذا، لا أريد ذلك، ولا أشعر بأني قادرة على القيام بذلك ! و لكن يجب أن أقول ما أشعر و أفكر به بطريقةٍ ما ."

قصة " ورقة الحائط الصفراء" .
نقرأ في هذه التحفة الأدبية حول مشاعر مريضة اكتئاب ، ما يدور في خيالها ، ما هي رغاباتها ، كيف تنظر للحياة حولها , لم نعرف حتي اسمها و لكن بالتأكيد تعرّفنا علي قلبها و حقيقةَ معاناتها .
حقيقة أن تتحدّث فلا يُنصت إليك و إذا أنصتوا فبأُذُنٍ صماء و أن تعبّر عن رأيك فيُسخر منه ، لا بد أنها تقول هذا بسبب مرضها ، أليس كذلك؟

كشفت الكاتبة - و التي عانت من حالة مماثلة - صعوبةَ تلك الفترة و عمق الأثر الذي يدعه هذا المرض :
"لا أحد يستطيع أن يصدق ما أبذله من جهد للقيام بأقل ما يُمكن فعله، لارتداء الملابس، لترتيب الأشياء، للترويح عن نفسى ."

نسبحُ معها و مع خيالاتها و رؤيتها إزاءَ ورق الحائط الأصفر الذي صار عاملها الخاص و مع الناس حولها و ردة فعلهم تجاه مرضها.

تُزيل القصة الأوهام التي كانت شائعة فى ذلك الوقت بانجلترا و العالم كله ان المريض العصبي يكفيه بعض من الطعام و الأكل بشهية مفتوحة و الإقامة الجبرية ليعود افضل حالا .

غيّر الكثير من الأطباء النفسيين بروتوكولاتِهم بعد هذه الرواية و الذي كان نيشاناً و تتويجاً تفتخر به الكاتبة بقيةَ حياتها.

قصةٌ قصيرة و لكن أثرها كبير 😊
هسيب للقصة لينك مترجم تحت 🤩✨.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,010 reviews632 followers
August 18, 2017
I debated about saying anything.....but here goes. Many of my favorite people love this book.

I thought this 99 cent book was odd.....even borders on being a horror story....its creepy-weird!!
Plus, right from the start -- I felt like I was reading a laundry list-- I was being talked 'at'. I found it irritating.

This is actually one of those books I wish I didn't read. I didn't like how I felt --and I don't think the book was 'that' worthy that I needed to feel so yucky after.

Read other reviews --or just spend the 99 cents to discover for yourself-- most readers appreciated this book!!! My comments are simply based on my feelings and reaction.

June 13, 2022
A daring, unforgettable and thought-provoking short story of a woman’s descent into depression, told with great authenticity, merit and sensitivity at a time in history (1892) when women were struggling to have their voices heard and mental health was regarded as a state of weakness and not spoken of openly. A label that was applied to too many people who suffered from mental health issues not just women.

The female protagonist of this story is taken to a mansion in the country to help recover from what we believe is postpartum depression. A treatment plan is constructed by her husband and doctor with confinement and total rest recommended. However, the rest means confinement to a room in the attic with yellow wallpaper that then becomes the obsession of this woman as her mental health deteriorates.

We feel the anguish as the woman’s life and every movement, decision and action is controlled, monitored, and directed by her husband, as she recalls “… he hardly lets me stir without special direction”

The caged lines in the wallpaper, appear as metaphorical expressions of the trapped person both mentally and physically in the confinement of a room at the top of the house, but seeing this mysterious caged woman - a version of herself, she attempts to tear away strips of wallpaper until she releases the woman trapped inside.

“I’ve got out at last,” said I, “in spite of you …. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!”

This was certainly a ground breaking piece of writing that dared speak of the unspeakable, a writer that dared lift the lid of the wrongful or inappropriate treatment of women postpartum, and as readers we play our part, which is simple - listen and understand and place ourselves in the room with the woman stirring at the yellow wallpaper with its unusual shapes and patterns and ask what is the best way to treat mental illness and still see the person? (Not just females) and who should decide someone is 'mad'?

A very powerful story and a landmark piece in its time. The book raises more questions than it answers for me, it leaves the story open to interpretation but one thread remains of a woman struggling with mental illness and a loving but oblivious husband who quite clearly doesn't know the best treatment which causes a descent into mental torture and breakdown.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
266 reviews282 followers
November 6, 2021
A feminist novella about a woman’s decent into madness. The Yellow Wallpaper is about a woman living with her husband and sister in law in a rental house for 3 months. We are told that she is mentally ill and her husband, who is a doctor, is taking care of her. He is incredibly controlling and does not let her leave her room or write, because he needs her to 'get better’. She spends her days confined in her room, and soon fixes all of her attention to the hideous yellow wallpaper that seems to be always changing its pattern and colour and hiding something, or someone, behind it.

This is a heartbreaking story of a woman's psychological breakdown and loss of identity, drawing attention to the oppression of women. It makes you question whether society's definition of 'normal' is reliable and the idea that our sanity depends completely on someone else’s perception of it is terrifying.

Reading about this woman so helpless against the world yet so powerful in her mind descending into madness was heartbreaking. I couldn’t help but be reminded of a story my grandmother told me, about the time she was eight months pregnant with my father. She was feeling stressed and hormonal (as to be expected I would assume) so she saw a Doctor. He told her that she was experiencing ‘hysteria’ and recommended she take up smoking as it would calm her. She did as she was told, continued to smoke heavily for the majority of her life and ultimately ended up dying from a lung disease at age 70.

What is even more frightening is the fact this novella is based on the Author’s actual experience! I highly recommend this short but powerful little book .
Profile Image for Greta G.
337 reviews253 followers
December 21, 2017
Clever, eerie little story, which I highly recommend to anyone who thinks that depending on a caring spouse is all you need to be happy. Sometimes it's not, and it even can be harmful ; especially if your wallpaper happens to be yellow.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 6 books198 followers
January 16, 2011
This has got to be one of the most impressive short stories ever written, up there with the very best. Written in the late 1800's, it is surprisingly modern in its form & content. When I was an undergraduate, Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an undiscovered writer, but thankfully she's been very much discovered now: I've read her nonfiction ('Women and Economics'--very forward-thinking re: communal kitchens and daycare) and her utopian novel, 'Herland.' She also has some other terrific short stories, "If I Were a Man," for example and a mystery novel. None is as famous as "The Yellow Wallpaper," however. What's great about this story is that I've found it reprinted in horror anthologies, women's fiction anthologies, college readers, texts on madness...It's a masterful example of an unreliable narrator and a woman's descent into madness. A wife is prescribed bed rest for what appears to be postpartum depression, is confined to a room w/ sickly yellow overly ornate wallpaper...and goes mad from inactivity, lack of meaningful stimulation. Don't want to spoil it by saying any more, if you haven't already read this great short story.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,107 followers
May 16, 2016
I was reminded of this little piece by a fellow reviewer and while I read it way back in college, several things still stick in my mind.

First, the prevalent psychology of Freud during the time-period: This novel portrays the kind of circular thinking that could happen to anyone in that particular time and station. Any person of a protected, apparently weak, and especially underclass station could find the confines so stifling that it might break their mind. Of course, this isn't to say that every woman had it this bad, or that they had weak minds. I'm just saying that Freud pointed out something that was happening during this time-period and all of a sudden he gets catapulted into prominence for stating the blinding obvious. Going crazy was an escape.

This led to the arrival of hoards of writers, revolutionaries, men and women of all walks of life all deciding that they'd show how much they weren't influenced by Freud. There was the huge push to make things equal between the sexes.

Hell, I think that part was very healthy. Ms. Gilman was a perfect revolutionary. She showed us how insane a person could get being put into that society, under those social rules and regulations, and even made her character sympathetic.

This is one of those works where it is so much more satisfying to read when we understand where it came from. It's even worse when we understand that this was pretty much a regular part of the times.

And then, there's Oscar Wilde.
He had a speech on his deathbed (perhaps apocryphal), where he saw the ugly purple wallpaper on the wall next to his deathbed and made a pronouncement, "Either this wallpaper goes, or I go!"

And so he died.

Death by wallpaper.

Was this a commentary? Who knows. Perhaps it was a slight twist and turn in medium, a hidden knife, a big idea slammed by wit.

But then, I'm only a man, but I'm proud to say that this story sent me on a long kick of feminism literature back in college. I'm sorry to see that the whole subject is so out of vogue. The backlash backlashed and backlashed again briefly and backlashed until I'm hella unsure where the pendulum has landed. I'm pleased to see it still lives a bit in SF and Fantasy, but but the rest of the genres seem to backsliding more often than they get it right.

I mean, what the hell is a Romance novel, except a means to pigeonhole women into a narrowly confined role and teach them to stare at the pretty wallpaper? Some YA novels feature nothing but abusive and truly creep-the-fuck-out characters. Where the hell is the lost ideal of equality between the sexes? All I see these days is frustrated sexual fantasies that rely more on power plays than love.

Someone, please let me know where I can get some relief!

Anyway, I always liked this story, and it allowed me to flex my imagination and enjoy the surrealism of the literature of the day in a way a little more accessible than others of the type that I just couldn't get into as much.

It was still a mindfuq, and put into perspective, I think the novelette gave a great deal of meaning to women. People's perceptions of themselves change over time, obviously, reacting to past mistakes, past preconceptions, but as a cross-gender analysis, I have to say that no one is completely free of the wallpaper.

Anyone can be caught up in their social roles. I know I've felt as trapped as our crazy protagonist. It's not just women who have needed to gain a measure of self-awareness.

We all need to say, "Enough is Enough, Already!"
Profile Image for Nika.
153 reviews162 followers
April 11, 2023
The impertinent wall-paper

The whole story is sometimes considered to be an allegory that reveals the subjugation of women in the nineteenth century. The main character is a young married woman with fragile mental health. In her own words, she has become inordinately sensitive, which was not her habit. Having given birth not long ago, she may be suffering from postpartum depression. The reader cannot be sure of what is going on because the protagonist herself relates what she experiences.
Whatever the reason behind her condition, the woman goes through a serious inner crisis.

The story is versatile and allows for various interpretations, including quite an improbable one concerning the woman’s husband John deliberately trying to drive her insane.
John is a physician, which means that he takes his wife’s treatment under his control. This takes the dependent condition common to married women to the extreme.
One may also recall that in the nineteenth century hysteria was thought a common illness among women. Patients were often prescribed the “rest cure”, that is confinement to bed and complete relaxation of the body and mind.

The reader can be more or less certain of only two aspects of this novel. First, the main character detests the yellow wall-paper in her room. She can watch its patterns for hours.
Little by little, she begins to see someone lurking behind that wall-paper.
The intricate pattern slowly takes the shape of a cage with a living creature inside. The narrator watches this faint figure move and shake the wall-paper pattern.
A spacious garden outside is one of the symbols in The Yellow Wall-Paper. It contrasts with the narrow room with the wall-paper that overpowers the space.
There is a delicious garden! I never saw such a garden—large and shady, full of box-bordered paths, and lined with long grape-covered arbors with seats under them.

Instead of strolling in the park, the woman is surrounded by the horrendous yellow tones, which both charm and intimidate her.
She becomes obsessed with the wall-paper to such an extent that life outside the room does not appeal to her anymore. Even if she were asked to go outside, she would not.

The husband’s attitude is the second quite obvious point in this novel. He does not make even the slightest effort to listen to his wife.
She asks to change her room with the hideous yellow walls. He refuses.
She wants to do something – go for a walk, write in her diaries, read. No, darling, you are too weak to make those efforts. Even seeing her own child turns out to be forbidden to her.
The husband knows better what will be beneficial to his wife.
John, acting as a doctor, prescribes complete relaxation, physical and intellectual. The main character is being treated like a little child. Such a regime weighs heavily on the woman, robs her of the remnants of independence, and causes a dangerous nervous breakdown. Her state of health continues to deteriorate, and her connection with reality peters out.

In my opinion, this story goes far beyond the subject of women’s rights. It explores such themes as lack of understanding between people living under the same roof, feeling lonely when you are outwardly surrounded with care, and the degrees of freedom or, more precisely, lack of freedom.
The woman, in the end, does not want to leave her yellow cage. Her husband, being a man of his time, clings to the cage built by the worldview and social norms he has been taught.

The final scene of the narrative leaves the reader stunned. It ends with the following line:
"Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!"
This will, perhaps, encourage you to read the story if you have not done it yet. It will take you around 20-25 minutes.
Profile Image for Lynn.
52 reviews1 follower
August 4, 2016
I typed the title into the search just to see if it would come up. I had no idea that this was a classic work. I never could recall the author's name, but from the reviews, I can see that I am not alone in how it still sits with me decades later.

I was only 13 or 14 years old when I sat in on my aunt's college literature class. I sat in the back, and the teacher gave me a black and white copy of the text so I could read along with the class. I remember the debate raged on in the class, but we read very little there.

Later that night, while everyone was asleep, I read the whole story alone in our dark attic apartment. It wasn't that I scared easy or that I was too young for the story, it was just so intense, so real, I guess I thought it was so possible...

I looked at everything different from then on. I thought anywhere could be a jail and anyone your jailer. I knew I could see patterns in the sky, in the dark, if you closed and opened your eyes rapidly, in markings on the floor, in the terrible paneling on our walls, but I would never mention this to anyone, least I never am let out again.

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