However, one person, in order to defy and mock the norm of woman characterization and the demeaning mindsets about women, Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote "The Yellow Wallpaper." This story, through well crafted symbolisms, brought to surface the troubles that real women face....
But way back in 1887, went to see a specialist in the hope of curing her recurring nervous breakdowns. The specialist recommended a "rest cure," which consisted of lying in bed all day and engaging in intellectual activity for only two hours a day. After three months, Gilman says, she was "near the borderline of utter mental ruin." (Check out the epic—and epically terrifying— for more.)
In due time, Gilman disregarded the specialist’s advice and wrote "The Yellow Wallpaper" to demonstrate the kind of madness produced by the popular "rest cure." It was published in 1891 in .
She describes the wall-paper as being the worst thing she has ever seen: "the color is repellant, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sun." She is stuck in this room and the only thing she has that allows her to escape is the wall-paper.
More immediate to facilitating her metamorphosis than the house itself is the room she is in and the characteristics of that room, the most important being the yellow wall-paper which also plays a double role: it has the ability to trap her in with its intricacy of pattern that leads her to no satisfying end, bars that hold in and separate the woman in the wall-paper from her.
The yellow wallpaper, of which the writer declares, “I never saw a worse paper in my life,” is a symbol of the mental screen that men attempted to enforce upon women.
And, since Women's Movement of the 1960's, "The Yellow Wallpaper" been anthologized as a piece illustrating 19th Century attitudes towards women’s physical and mental health.
It's easy to read "The Yellow Wallpaper" and feel a little smug. After all, you're living in the 21st Century. Thing like leaving a someone alone for most of the day without any mental stimulation just doesn't happen these days, right? And if it does, it's certainly not done in someone's best interest, right?
For the first decades of its life, "The Yellow Wallpaper" was read as a piece of horror fiction firmly situated in the Gothic genre. And we're not terribly shocked by this: the story is about a woman who, when given the rest cure, ends up seeing a woman crawling out of her wallpaper.
The narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper" spends a summer languishing mostly alone on a bed nailed down to the floor. And she does this on the orders of a well-meaning husband and a well-meaning doctor (who, um, happen to be the same man). Being essentially locked into a room with nothing to do was seen as the very best treatment against mental illness. And, as we see in this story, the treatment actually made its patients more unstable, not less.
Throughout “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Gilman uses various symbols to show the oppression of women by men, and the continuing struggle to escape that oppression.
Like in "The Yellow Wallpaper," prison solitary confinement is supposed to be good for the inmate. It's supposed to "foster personal redemption through habits of meditation and penitence" but it ends up "irreparably harming the human psyche." ()
Hue: This is what we usually mean when we ask "what color is that?" The property of color that we are actually asking about is "hue". For example, when we talk about colors that are red, yellow, green, and blue, we are talking about hue. Different hues are caused by different wavelengths of light. Therefore, this aspect of color is usually easy to recognize. Click for a more in-depth explanation of .
"The Yellow Wallpaper" is famous as a text that addresses sexism and the stigmatizing of the mentally ill. And you should certainly read it with those themes in mind—they're super-important, and the world is in dire need of gender equality and acceptance of mental illness.
But the "Yellow Wallpaper" is also famous for its gut-wrenching descriptions of the effects of being holed up and left alone and we live in a world where, as of 2016, an estimated 80,000-100,000 inmates are held in isolated confinement. () That's 80,000-100,000 people who risk serious mental injury as a result of isolation, guys.