found this short story especially interesting. As
an early piece of feminist writing, it
looks at attitudes
towards women, both generally and from the point of view of mental
who stridently presented legitimate views could easily be called
a woman who was demure
and silent – on the verge of being in some kind of vegetative state
– was considered normal.
spent a lot of time being
treated by doctors and
psychiatrists, and as
a result she
would doubtlessly have been well acquainted with the subject about which she was writing.
story tells of a woman, the ‘I’ in the story, who has been
brought to a house in the country by her physician husband. As the
story unfolds it becomes
the woman is possibly
from post-natal depression, but nothing
stated outright. The husband
is certain that the only way for his wife to be cured is by rest,
with no distractions of any kind. She is not allowed to leave the
house, read or
is not permitted to do
no circumstances is she
any kind of mental or sensory stimulation.
turns her attention to the yellow wallpaper in the room where she has
been placed, and bit by bit she conjures up a completely new world,
which is often quite
between what is reality and what is merely in her imagination becomes
the woman finally
completely into a state of madness or whether she finally conquers
her husband is something that only the reader can decide.
Illustration of the yellow wallpaper from Kozah
a writer, Perkins Gilman
was aware that writing was one way in which she could break free of
stifling expectations, but she also knew that many men were
frightened of what this could lead to – they preferred women to do
things that did not in any way threaten or compete with men.
Perkins Gilmore cleverly balances the wife’s learned
submissiveness (her husband was so kind; he was only trying to help
her) with the wife’s awareness of her own pressing needs. She
knew only too well that the ‘rest cure’ did more harm than good.
piece of feminist writing, which
is not outdated, not even after more than one hundred years.