one pixel image
The Yellow Wallpaper Study Guide

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman


The Yellow Wallpaper: Introduction

The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and first published in 1892. The story is a reflection of the author's own struggles with depression and was written during a time when mental health was not well understood or discussed openly. The Yellow Wallpaper has become an iconic work of feminist literature and is still widely read and studied today.

Why did Charlotte Perkins Gilman write The Yellow Wallpaper?

The Yellow Wallpaper is set in the late 19th century, a time when women's mental health was often dismissed or pathologized. The "rest cure" that the protagonist is prescribed was a real treatment at the time, and was often used to treat women who were deemed to be suffering from "hysteria." The story was written during the first wave of feminism and is considered to be a critique of the way women were treated by the medical establishment and society at large. 

Gilman herself had experienced postpartum depression and was prescribed the "rest cure," a popular treatment at the time that involved complete physical and mental inactivity. This treatment only made her condition worse, and she eventually had to break free from it and find her own path to recovery. Gilman wrote in her own words that the story was, "not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked." She received numerous letters from women who had also been subjected to the rest cure and who found solace and validation in her story.

"The Yellow Wallpaper" was Gilman's way of shedding light on the negative effects of the rest cure and the way women were often silenced and dismissed by male doctors. Through the story, she highlights the importance of self-expression and agency, particularly for women who were often denied these rights. 

The Yellow Wallpaper: Analysis

The story is narrated by a woman who is suffering from postpartum depression and has been prescribed a "rest cure" by her physician husband. She is confined to a room with yellow wallpaper, which she becomes obsessed with and sees as a symbol of her own entrapment. As her mental state deteriorates, she becomes convinced that there is a woman trapped behind the wallpaper and begins to identify with her.

One of the most notable aspects of The Yellow Wallpaper is its use of symbolism. The yellow wallpaper itself is a powerful symbol of the protagonist's entrapment, as well as a commentary on the limitations that were placed on women at the time. The woman behind the wallpaper represents the protagonist's own desires and potential, which have been suppressed by her husband and society at large. The story also contains themes of isolation, identity, and the search for self-expression.

The Yellow Wallpaper has been interpreted in a variety of ways over the years, and its relevance to modern society remains strong. The story is often read as a feminist critique of the way women's mental health is treated, and as a call for greater understanding and compassion. It has also been read as a commentary on the dangers of suppressing one's own desires and creativity, and the importance of finding one's own voice.

In recent years, The Yellow Wallpaper has inspired a number of adaptations and retellings, including a graphic novel, a stage play, and a short film. These adaptations often explore different aspects of the story and update it for a modern audience. The story has also been referenced in popular culture, including in the television series Mad Men and the film Hereditary.

Overall, The Yellow Wallpaper is a powerful and enduring work of feminist literature. Its impact can be seen in the ongoing discussions around women's mental health, as well as in the many adaptations and references to it in popular culture. The story's themes of isolation, identity, and the search for self-expression remain relevant today, and its use of symbolism continues to inspire and captivate readers.

We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!
  • Instructions Followed To The Letter
  • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
  • Unique And Plagiarism Free
Order your paper now