The Yellow Wallpaper

Submitted By mbg1029
Words: 549
Pages: 3

“The Yellow 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.” - Charlotte P. Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” Charlotte Perkins Gilman experienced depression in a time that society failed to accept people with mental illness, nor did they recognize its symptoms as those of a true physical condition. In addition, the “epidemic” of depression and mental illness in women was being used as a reason for excluding them from leadership roles that were normally occupied by men. It is believed male doctors and leaders encouraged this to keep women weak and passive and to keep the women’s rights movement from progressing. (Thomas) In the story, the main character suffered from obvious and severe depression and was told by her physician husband “there really is nothing the matter.” He stated that her condition was just a “temporary nervous depression.” Gilman was writing based on her own experience. During the third year of her mental illness, she decided to put her trust in a doctor who specialized in “nervous diseases.” Much like John, the husband in the story, the doctor came to the conclusion that this condition was not a concern and that large amounts of rest would provide the cure. (Thomas) 2 Both the real and fictional doctors felt that women were not able to withstand as much pressure (mental or emotional) as a man. Because of this, Gilman’s doctor forbade her from journaling her thoughts, and the character of John placed the same order on his wife. Very little “intellectual activity” was to be performed. The physical and mental confinement the author felt in real life inspired her to write the story, which ended with her tearing down the wallpaper and causing the husband to faint. When she found the husband on the floor, she boldly stepped over him. Some believe this was meant to symbolize the woman killing her husband and her stepping over him symbolized her empowerment against his patronizing attitude. Others believe he merely fainted because of his shock at what she had done. (2014) In her article, “Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’,” Gilman shared that