ERIC Number: ED214175
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1982-Feb
Reference Count: 0
Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper": Women, Society, Sanity.
Thompson, Merle O'Rourke
"The Yellow Wallpaper," by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is a remarkable piece of history and sociology, as well as a feminist story concerning the search for self. Written in 1890, the story, which closely parallels the author's own life, vividly chronicles a woman's descent into madness. Charlotte married an artist after a lengthy courtship of conflicting emotions. After the birth of their child, Charlotte suffered from nervous exhaustion and a debilitating depression. She received the "rest cure" of a noted neurologist, extended bedrest and total inactivity, after which she was sent home and told to live as domestic a life as possible and "never touch pen, brush, or pencil as long as you live." Charlotte, who believed work was essential to personal dignity, came close to insanity after a month of domesticity and finally left her husband. "The Yellow Wallpaper" dramatically narrates what she knows would have happened to her had she not escaped from her husband and doctor. The insane narrator, kept in a room with no contacts or stimuli, tears off the yellow wallpaper to release the "woman" trapped between the layers, the narrator's "other" self. Charlotte wrote the story during the years she lived away from her husband and raised her daughter, at which time she suffered much social abuse. Eventually, she returned her daughter to her husband, remarried, and, free from all domestic chores, completed her best works of sociology, including "Women and Economics," a definitive work of the time. (HTH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Gilman (Charlotte Perkins)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Conference on English in the Two Year College (17th, Winston-Salem, NC, February 25-27, 1982).