The Yellow Wallpaper PDF
The Yellow Wallpaper, a 6000 words short story written by famous novelist Charlotte Perkin. Another strange story with sort of a twist ending. The novel is probably the best-known story of Gilman. She was kind of a one-hit wonder and like many women who were writing at this time. Gilman ended up suffering from some mental illness and committed suicide shortly after the writing of this novel which might won’t surprise you given what you just read.
Here is some social and historical context for this story. This novel which was written in same time period as Trifles just before the 20th century. You might have seen some similarities between the story and Trifles in terms of the relations among husbands and wives. This was also written before postpartum depression was an accepted documented illness, they haven’t a name for a postpartum depression. And often just said that after women had children, they had a nervous condition or they just thought that women had weak constitutions. So, after they would have children, they didn’t think anything much of it if a woman had mental problems after she bears a child.
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In that day and age, the solution of the treatment for this nervous illness after having a child was typically isolation that you were not allowed from seeing friends or colleagues or anything really even not allowed from seeing your own child. You were also discouraged from getting any of physical exercise. Or doing anything that would cause you to have any intellectual stimulation like writing or painting or practicing a hobby. And these are all things that we now know of course you should be doing if you’ve post-delivery despair. You should be with your baby all times. You should be with your friends, you should be vigorous. And so you should see how if a woman was prevented from doing those things that her postpartum depression would really become fatal.
This novel was actually based real experience that Gilman had after she had her baby. She was sent as many women were away to a Sanitarium which is less or more like the mental hospital. And she managed despite the terrible treatment for this illness. She is able to survive and was back to write about it. She not only writes this but she also spoke out against what was called “Rest Cure”. Which is again this idea that to cure this nervous condition one should do nothing and be alone.
So, the first passage of the book, Gilman wrote all about her own experience. She wrote how she fought with severe nervous breakdown that tending to melancholia. Gilman told that her doctor told her to go home focus on being mother and wife.
Finally, she says that she recovered finally by beginning to write and in fact writing this novel. She did send a copy of “The Yellow Wallpaper” to the physician who nearly killed her by prescribing the rest cure. But she told that he didn’t accept receiving it so he ignored it. And again, Gilman ultimately perhaps because of illness and perhaps because of the treatment, she received for her illness ultimately succumbed to suicide.
I want to discuss the unreliable narrator, So, we mentioned that first-person narrators are unreliable not because they’re not good people or we can’t count on them. But because due to whatever’s going on in their heads, their own ideas, preferences, opinions, prejudices that they will report what they see and experience through their lens as opposed to how it is objectively.
So, let’s look at a couple of examples here.
The storyteller describes the house as being beautiful and she shares she loves it. Even she described this house is beautiful and how more she likes it. We personally objectively can realize that there’re things about this house that are unusual and threatening or foreboding. Notice that the house is away from village that isolates the house from other places where people live. She also said that it has hedges and walls and gates that lock. So think about all those layers of being kept in locked and isolated from outside world.
You’ll also notice, the description of the bedroom where the woman lives that she describes it as a nursery. But if we look at it, it doesn’t sound like the nursery. But this is a nursery quote/unquote that has bars on the windows and metal rings pierced into walls and the bed is nailed down. Some readers believe in the fact that the house itself and the room itself that she is in our part of mental hospital that she just thinks she’s on vacation.
However, you select to read it, you could see that the reality that you see is different from the reporting that the woman gives us. So, she’s not necessarily reporting the capital-t truth. She’s just reporting what she experiences.
Notice that, she also sees her spouse as loving &caring but I want you guys to notice that when she does try to discuss him about her case when she does say hey John! I’d like to invite our friends over or hey John I think I’d like to go home now or hey John I do not need to stay in bed all day John dismisses her. He told her he knows what is best for her and doesn’t really listen to her. So, when she says you know I can’t touch it about my case because he loves me so much. That might be how she feels but we as outsiders can say that that might not be why.
Notice also that John talks down to her he infantilizes her meaning that he calls her little girl. At one point, when she told that she thinks she is getting worse. He says oh she shall be as thick as she pleases as if he doesn’t believe that she’s really suffering. So, he doesn’t take her seriously or treat her like an adult. So, again her perception of him may not be the reality of him. He may not really be loving but more controlling.
Finally, there are few literal things that she’s unreliable about so she believes and this best she could do with the state she’s in. She believes that the Knicks and the bedpost, the stains on her clothes and the rubbed off wallpaper are due to someone else’s actions. But we begin to understand later in the story that it’s actually her who’s biting on the bedposts and rubbing herself against the wallpaper pulling the paint off.
We could practice psychoanalytic criticism on “The Novel” and remember that psychoanalytic criticism is based theory of Freud’s. That asks us to think about how characters are suppressing essential needs. And how suppressing those things comes out and establishes itself different ways.
So, let’s think about what the character, writer is suppressing. She’s suppressing the need for a company we all need interaction with others. And this woman is kept from interacting with other people, friends or even her own baby. She also needs to write and to work.
If you read carefully, you see that the reason that the novel is written because the character manages to sneak and write in the journal which her husband has forbidden her to do. So, she’s kept from expressing herself inventively. Finally, the need for freedom so, she’s prevented to leave. She’s prevented to travel. She’s often not allowed to leave her room. The result of suppressing these needs is narrator ends up detaching from her own mind of her own self to escape. Instead of continuing to fear the woman behind the wallpaper which is not the one she becomes the woman behind the wallpaper. So, she detaches from her reality.
End of the Story Description:
Notice at the very end of story, narrator says I’ve gotten out I’ve gotten out despite jane and you. And up to this point, we haven’t heard the name Jane before and so who is Jane? Well, Jane is the narrator so at the end the madwoman who pops out of wallpaper is the woman who’s been writing to us all along. But she is separated from her own identity. And her own self to the point that she thought she is escaping herself. She thinks she’s getting past Jane and her husband.
So, this character Jane has been pushed so far and suppressed so greatly that she snaps. We can also practice feminist criticism when reading this novel. We can ask ourselves how the power, struggle affects the outcome of story. Who has power and who does not. And very similarly to Trifles and very similar to most marriages at this time, the men as ones who have power and marriage they are the one with decision-making capabilities and power. Even her husband hadn’t been her doctor, he will have been the one who got to take decisions about her. So, in many ways, the inequality of man and the woman in marriage and men & women in general at the time affected the outcome.
Therefore, in that way Gilman is denying the level of quo of marriage in general, not just this marriage. But all marriage because women are not taken seriously, often treated like children and prevented to make their own choices and marriages of the age. So, while this novel does make for a really kind of creepy, cool, scary story it’s more than that. It goes deeper than that and talks about suppression and gender inequality. And is also a really interesting historical document dealing with the treatment of post-delivery despair before we knew what it was.
Download links to “The Yellow Wallpaper PDF”
The Horror Novel, The Yellow Wallpaper is totally free of copyright issue. You can download the novel of Charlotte Perkins Gilman from the links that are given below. The download links include PDF, Kindle, and Epub versions.