6/13/12

The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman



5 STARS!!!!!

ABOUT THE BOOK -
"The Yellow Wallpaper" is a 6,000-word short story by American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in January 1892 in New England Magazine. It is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature, illustrating attitudes in the 19th century toward women's physical and mental health.
The story is written in the first person as a series of journal entries. The narrator is a woman whose husband — a physician — 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 entries from him so that she can recuperate from what he has diagnosed as 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 illustrates 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 room's wallpaper.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (July 3, 1860 – August 17, 1935) 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 postpartum psychosis. 

MY REVIEW -
Excellently written - powerful short story! The descriptions in this story are amazing.
"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 sulfur tint in others."
In such a short time (15 pages) she manages to tell a story that others would take 300 pages to write. It didn't have the feel of a short story at all. It was very satisfying and interesting, although sad to watch her slip deeper and deeper into her depression. But I felt for her, I felt as though I understood her depression, like I was in her world. I liked her! I really think that if I was there I could talk to her and maybe help her in some way, just be a friend.
"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." 
This was in the afterword -
"At the age of 26, Charlotte sought help from the nation's premiere nerve specialists, Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell of Philadelphia. He diagnosed exhaustion of the nerves and prescribed "the rest cure" a controversial treatment that Mitchell pioneered. It included: 1. Bed rest, 2. isolation from family, 3. overfeeding to increase fat volume, 4. massage and occasional use of electricity on the muscles. To begin, the patient could not even leave her bed, read, write, sew, talk, or feed herself.
After 6 weeks Gilman was sent home with instructions - "Live as domestic a life as possible. Have your child with you all the time. Lie down an hour after each meal. Have but 2 hour's intellectual life a day. and never touch a pen, brush, or pencil as long as you live."
Can you even believe that? How absurd! If a doctor told me that I would have him committed! And they thought "she" was crazy!

You can get this from B&N (several options) - HERE
and from Amazon - HERE

1 comment:

  1. I haven't heard of this before but I sure wouldn't mind reading it. It shocks me the ideas they had in the old days of treating depression. Downright scary is what it was.

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