The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Novels
0:44 h
Level 10
"The Yellow Wallpaper" (original title: "The Yellow Wall-paper. A Story") is a short story by American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in January 1892 in The New England Magazine. It is regarded as an important early work of American feminist literature, due to its illustration of the attitudes towards mental and physical health of women in the 19th century. Narrated in the first person, the story is a collection of journal entries written by a woman whose physician husband (John) has rented an old mansion for the summer. Forgoing other rooms in the house, the couple moves into the upstairs nursery. As a form of treatment, the unnamed woman is forbidden from working, and is encouraged to eat well and get plenty of air, so she can recuperate from what he calls a "temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency", a diagnosis common to women during that period.

The Yellow Wallpaper

by
Charlotte Perkins Gilman


It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secureancestral halls for the summer.

A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, andreach the height of romantic felicity — but that would be asking toomuch of fate!

Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it.

Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so longuntenanted?

John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.

John is practical in the extreme. He has no patience with faith, anintense horror of superstition, and he scoffs openly at any talk of thingsnot to be felt and seen and put down in figures.

John is a physician, and perhaps — (I would not say it to a livingsoul, of course, but this is dead paper and a great relief to mymind) — perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster.

You see, he does not believe I am sick!

And what can one do?

If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friendsand relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one buttemporary nervous depression — a slight hysterical tendency — whatis one to do?

My brother is also a physician, and also of high standing, and he says thesame thing.

So I take phosphates or phosphites — whichever it is, and tonics, andjourneys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work”until I am well again.

Personally, I disagree with their ideas.

Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change,would do me good.

But what is one to do?

I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a gooddeal — having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavyopposition.