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The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) - Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Related: 1892 - ghost story - gothic fiction - irrationalism - mental illness - literature - unreliable narrator - 1800s literature
It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer.
A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity--but that would be asking too much of fate!
Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it.
Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted?
John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.
John is practical in the extreme. He has no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures.
John is a physician, and PERHAPS--(I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to my mind)--PERHAPS that is one reason I do not get well faster.
You see he does not believe I am sick! --http://www.gutenberg.org/dirs/etext99/ylwlp10.txtQ
The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story by feminist author Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It was first published in 1892 in The New England Magazine.
The story details in first-person style the descent into madness of a woman suffering from (as her physician husband describes it) a "temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency." In fact this depression is exacerbated by the narrator being confined in an upstairs room (to recuperate) by her well-meaning but dictatorial and oblivious husband. The room is decorated with yellow wallpaper that becomes the focal point of her insanity.
The story has been interpreted by feminist critics as a condemnation of the androcentric hegemony of 19th century medical knowledge. The narrator's suggestions about her recuperation (that she should work instead of rest, that she should engage with society instead of remaining isolated, etc.) are dismissed out of hand using language that stereotypes her as an irrational being and therefore not qualified to offer ideas about her own condition. Gilman indicated that the idea for the story originated in her own experience as a patient.
The Yellow Wallpaper is sometimes referred to as an example of Gothic literature for its treatment of madness and powerlessness. A version of it was performed on the radio program Suspense by Agnes Moorehead.
Gilbert, Sandra and Gubar, Susan. The Madwoman in the Attic (1980). New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300025963 --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Yellow_Wallpaper [May 2005]
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