First published in 1892, The Yellow Wallpaper has lost none of its power to chill the blood. It is the archetypal feminist horror story, the account of a young woman suffering “temporary nervous depression” who is treated by her grotesquely self-assured physician husband with an enforced rest cure. Stifled, isolated and forbidden any sort of activity, her illness curdles into full-blown madness.
The narrative, which was based on personal experience, hinges on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s conviction that without an outlet for their prodigious talents, women are doomed to sickness and despair. But if The Yellow Wallpaper sounds a note of terrible warning, Gilman was also deeply concerned with practical solutions. The stories in this well-curated collection fairly bristle with ingenious ways of balancing creative and domestic imperatives.
What I enjoyed about reading this story was its intense and in depth description of a mundane material and how complex it got as her mental state seemingly deteriorates. This book is relevant to my work as Perkins Gilman dematerialises the wall paper in the book and transforms it into something beyond imagination.