A Look at ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’

200px-Yellowwp_medFirst published in the early 1890s, this short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is not only an eerie tale of a woman sequestered to her room and experiencing what seem to be hallucinations, visions of a woman trapped in the mesmerizing wallpaper pattern; it is also a reflection on attitudes to towards mental illness in women around the turn of the century.

The abusive practice of convincing a person to doubt their state of mind, especially when under certain strains (anxiety, depression, or what have you) — gaslighting — is illustrated brilliantly by this piece (incidentally, it is understood that Gilman’s own state of mind was, in part, an influence in the writing of the story – at the time, she was said to have been suffering from postpartum depression). Really shares in the gothic tradition of claustrophobia, too. I found my own pulse quickening in panic when I read it…♦

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