Charlotte Gilman’s short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a feminist’s tale of a woman who is spoken to like a child, ignored like a piece of furniture, and treated medically in a way that is horrible to most sensibilities. The horror she tolerates starring at the dreadful wallpaper day after day is really just a side effect of her abuse, and her frustrating lack of fulfillment, which was forbidden by a fool-hardy psychologist and enforced by the patriarchy of her husband.
The short story was published in a New England magazine in 1892 and was received with mixed reviews. “Such a story ought not to be written” said one Boston physician. “Another physician, in Kansas, I think, wrote to say that it was the best description of incipient ...view middle of the document...
465). “Bless her little heart!” said he with a big hug, “she shall be as sick as she pleases…[go] to sleep, and talk about it in the morning” (p. 466). Thrailkill confirms that The Yellow Wallpaper is indeed a feminist manifesto by writing:
Dr. Mitchell submitted Gilman to his celebrated rest cure that, in calling for loneliness, physical inaction, kneading, mild electrical stimulation, and fattening, centered on the body as the site of health and disease. This story is familiar to twentieth-century readers of Gilman's now classic short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," due largely to the critical work of feminist scholars who, beginning in the 1970s, interpreted Gilman's treatment at the hands of Mitchell as paradigmatic of the patriarchal silencing of women .
Gilman was basically placed in a situation that is shared by those who are incarcerated. Lying in bed and starring at a wall is prison. This was considered a cure for a difficult woman. She was told to “live as domestic a life as far as possible,” to “have but two hours of intellectual life a day” and “never to touch pen, brush, or pencil again”.
Today, we recognize this treatment as abusive and ridiculous. Today, mental health practitioners would have her do the exact opposite. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is an 1892 message that women are grown-ups too.
Works Cited . .
Hochman, Barbara. “The Reading Habit and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’.” American Literature (2002): 22.
Jean, Shawn St. “Hanging “The Yellow Wall-paper”: Feminism and Textual Studies.” Feminist Studies (2002): 19.
Suess, Barbara A. “The Writings on the Wall “Symbolic Orders in ‘The Yellow Wall-paper’”.” Womens Studies (2003): 19.