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The Yellow Wallpaper

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Book Overview: 

Presented in the first person, the story is a collection of journal entries written by a woman whose physician husband has confined her to the upstairs bedroom of a house he has rented for the summer. She is forbidden from working and has to hide her journal from him, so she can recuperate from what he calls a "temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency," a diagnosis common to women in that period. The windows of the room are barred, and there is a gate across the top of the stairs, allowing her husband to control her access to the rest of the house.

The story depicts the effect of confinement on the narrator's mental health and her descent into psychosis. With nothing to stimulate her, she becomes obsessed by the pattern and color of the wallpaper. "It is the strangest yellow, that wall-paper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw – not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things. But there is something else about that paper – the smell! ... The only thing I can think of that it is like is the color of the paper! A yellow smell."

Recommended for fans of Stephen King, James Herbert, and Clive Barker.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ed 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 color is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight.

It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others.

No wonder the children hated it! I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long.

There comes John, and I must put this away,—he hates to have me write a word.

We have been here two weeks, and I haven't felt like writing before, since that first day.

I am sitting by the window now, up in this atrocious nursery, and there is nothing to hinder my writing as much as I please, save lack of strength.

John is away all day, and even some nights when his cas. . . Read More

Community Reviews

The Yellow Wallpaper, first published in 1992, is now a staple of middle and high school English classes and college (Gender and )Women’s Studies programs, linked to Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, Ibsen’s The Doll House and similar texts reflecting on the damage patriarchy does to society, especial...more

So, so good, the belittling and infantilizing treatment of this poor woman, and her entrapment in the room with the yellow wallpaper by her physician husband is a case history in how to drive someone completely insane.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a remarkable woman and utopian feminist ahead of her time. Powerful, thought-provoking, and profoundly illuminating, Gilman developed seven short feminist narratives that seek to empower women and minorities oppressed by our patriarchal society. Highly polemical, grip...more

5 stars for The Yellow Wallpaper - Excellent short story. After looking into Gilman’s traumatic inspiration for writing it, I was wowed.

4 stars for the other stories included in this small book - all were good.

“I never saw a worse paper in my life. 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...more

Reread in October 2018

As always, amazing writing and stories that make you think. Gotta love Gilman, not only for her talent of writing, but her courage to write such feminist pieces during the 18th century.
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5 STARS

I only had to r.../>5

Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Yup, that was me enjoying the spiralling descent into madness.

Ok all jokes aside, mental health is a serious issue and something which is more fragile than we realise - do not take it for granted people. We are lucky enough to...more

Woo, intense!

"This wallpaper has a kind of subpattern in a different shade, a particularly irritating one, for you can only see it in certain lights, and not clearly then. But in the places where it isn’t faded and where the sun is just so—I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to...more

Roland Barthes talked about 'writerly' and 'readerly' books. I've struggled for a long time, myself, in trying to come up for terms to talk about the differences between deliberate works and those which are too bumbling, too one-sided, or too ill-informed to make the reader think.

While The Yello...more

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