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The Yellow Wallpaper

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❶The narrator attributes all these to children, as most of the damage is isolated to their reach. Gilman published short stories in magazines, newspapers, and many were published in her self-published monthly, The Forerunner.

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Women were even discouraged from writing, because it would ultimately create an identity and become a form of defiance. Gilman realized that writing became one of the only forms of existence for women at a time when they had very few rights.

Gilman explained that the idea for the story originated in her own experience as a patient: Weir Mitchell , and convince him of the error of his ways". She was forbidden to touch pen, pencil, or brush, and was allowed only two hours of mental stimulation a day.

After three months and almost desperate, Gilman decided to contravene her diagnosis, along with the treatment methods, and started to work again.

Aware of how close she had come to complete mental breakdown, the author wrote The Yellow Wallpaper with additions and exaggerations to illustrate her own criticism for the medical field. Gilman sent a copy to Mitchell but never received a response. She added that The Yellow Wallpaper was "not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked".

Gilman claimed that many years later she learned that Mitchell had changed his treatment methods, but literary historian Julie Bates Dock has discredited this. Mitchell continued his methods, and as late as — 16 years after "The Yellow Wallpaper" was published — was interested in creating entire hospitals devoted to the "rest cure" so that his treatments would be more widely accessible.

This story has been interpreted by feminist critics as a condemnation of the male control of the 19th-century medical profession.

Her ideas, though, are dismissed immediately while using language that stereotypes her as irrational and, therefore, unqualified to offer ideas about her own condition. This interpretation draws on the concept of the " domestic sphere " that women were held in during this period. Many feminist critics focus on the degree of triumph at the end of the story.

Although some claim the narrator slipped into insanity, others see the ending as a woman's assertion of agency in a marriage in which she felt trapped. If the narrator were allowed neither to write in her journal nor to read, she would begin to "read" the wallpaper until she found the escape she was looking for.

Through seeing the women in the wallpaper, the narrator realizes that she could not live her life locked up behind bars. At the end of the story, as her husband lies on the floor unconscious, she crawls over him, symbolically rising over him. This is interpreted as a victory over her husband, at the expense of her sanity.

Lanser, a professor at Brandeis University, praises contemporary feminism and its role in changing the study and the interpretation of literature. Critics such as the editor of the Atlantic Monthly rejected the short story because "[he] could not forgive [himself] if [he] made others as miserable as [he] made [himself].

Lanser argues that the short story was a "particularly congenial medium for such a re-vision. At first she focuses on contradictory style of the wallpaper: She takes into account the patterns and tries to geometrically organize them, but she is further confused. The wallpaper changes colors when it reflects light and emits a distinct odor which the protagonist cannot recognize p. At night the narrator is able to see a woman behind bars within the complex design of the wallpaper.

Lanser argues that the unnamed woman was able to find "a space of text on which she can locate whatever self-projection". Feminists have made a great contribution to the study of literature but, according to Lanser, are falling short because if "we acknowledge the participation of women writers and readers in dominant patterns of thought and social practice then perhaps our own patterns must also be deconstructed if we are to recover meanings still hidden or overlooked.

Cutter discusses how in many of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's works she addresses this "struggle in which a male-dominated medical establishment attempts to silence women. In this time period it was thought that "hysteria" a disease stereotypically more common in women was a result of too much education.

It was understood that women who spent time in college or studying were over-stimulating their brains and consequently leading themselves into states of hysteria. In fact, many of the diseases recognized in women were seen as the result of a lack of self-control or self-rule. Different physicians argued that a physician must "assume a tone of authority" and that the idea of a "cured" woman is one who is "subdued, docile, silent, and above all subject to the will and voice of the physician".

Often women were prescribed bed rest as a form of treatment, which was meant to "tame" them and basically keep them imprisoned. Treatments such as this were a way of ridding women of rebelliousness and forcing them to conform to expected social roles. In her works Gilman, highlights that the harm caused by these types of treatments for woman i. Paula Treichler explains "In this story diagnosis 'is powerful and public.

In January , Gilman was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer. In both her autobiography and suicide note, she wrote that she "chose chloroform over cancer" and she died quickly and quietly. At one point, Gilman supported herself by selling soap door to door. After moving to Pasadena, Gilman became active in organizing social reform movements. Throughout that same year, , she became inspired enough to write fifteen essays, poems, a novella, and the short story The Yellow Wallpaper.

Her career was launched when she began lecturing on Nationalism and gained the public's eye with her first volume of poetry, In This Our World , published in In , Gilman wrote her short story " The Yellow Wallpaper ", [19] which is now the all-time best selling book of the Feminist Press. For instance, many textbooks omit the phrase "in marriage" from a very important line in the beginning of story: The story is about a woman who suffers from mental illness after three months of being closeted in a room by her husband for the sake of her health.

She becomes obsessed with the room's revolting yellow wallpaper. Gilman wrote this story to change people's minds about the role of women in society, illustrating how women's lack of autonomy is detrimental to their mental, emotional, and even physical wellbeing. This story was inspired by her treatment from her first husband.

Silas Weir Mitchell , and she sent him a copy of the story. Gilman's first book was Art Gems for the Home and Fireside ; however, it was her first volume of poetry, In This Our World , a collection of satirical poems, that first brought her recognition. During the next two decades she gained much of her fame with lectures on women's issues, ethics, labor, human rights, and social reform.

In —95 Gilman served as editor of the magazine The Impress , a literary weekly that was published by the Pacific Coast Women's Press Association formerly the Bulletin.

For the twenty weeks the magazine was printed, she was consumed in the satisfying accomplishment of contributing its poems, editorials, and other articles. The short-lived paper's printing came to an end as a result of a social bias against her lifestyle which included being an unconventional mother and a woman who had divorced a man.

This book discussed the role of women in the home, arguing for changes in the practices of child-raising and housekeeping to alleviate pressures from women and potentially allow them to expand their work to the public sphere. In she wrote one of her most critically acclaimed books, The Home: Its Work and Influence , which expanded upon Women and Economics , proposing that women are oppressed in their home and that the environment in which they live needs to be modified in order to be healthy for their mental states.

In between traveling and writing, her career as a literary figure was secured. By presenting material in her magazine that would "stimulate thought", "arouse hope, courage and impatience", and "express ideas which need a special medium", she aimed to go against the mainstream media which was overly sensational.

The magazine had nearly 1, subscribers and featured such serialized works as What Diantha Did , The Crux , Moving the Mountain , and Herland. The Forerunner has been cited as being "perhaps the greatest literary accomplishment of her long career". Her autobiography, The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman , which she began to write in , appeared posthumously in Perkins-Gilman married Charles Stetson in , and less than a year later gave birth to their daughter Katharine.

Already susceptible to depression, her symptoms were exacerbated by marriage and motherhood. A good proportion of her diary entries from the time she gave birth to her daughter until several years later describe the oncoming depression that she was to face.

On April 18, , Gilman wrote in her diary that she was very sick with "some brain disease" which brought suffering that cannot be felt by anybody else, to the point that her "mind has given way.

After nine weeks, Gilman was sent home with Mitchell's instructions, "Live as domestic a life as possible. Have your child with you all the time Lie down an hour after each meal.

Have but two hours' intellectual life a day. And never touch pen, brush or pencil as long as you live.

By early summer the couple had decided that a divorce was necessary for her to regain sanity without affecting the lives of her husband and daughter.

During the summer of , Charlotte and Katharine spent time in Bristol, Rhode Island , away from Walter, and it was there where her depression began to lift. She writes of herself noticing positive changes in her attitude.

She returned to Providence in September. She sold property that had been left to her in Connecticut, and went with a friend, Grace Channing, to Pasadena where the cure of her depression can be seen through the transformation of her intellectual life.

Gilman called herself a humanist and believed the domestic environment oppressed women through the patriarchal beliefs upheld by society. Gilman argued that male aggressiveness and maternal roles for women were artificial and no longer necessary for survival in post-prehistoric times. She wrote, "There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. Might as well speak of a female liver. Her main argument was that sex and domestic economics went hand in hand; for a woman to survive, she was reliant on her sexual assets to please her husband so that he would financially support his family.

At one point, she startles Jennie, who had been touching the wallpaper and who mentions that she had found yellow stains on their clothes. But she sleeps less and less and is convinced that she can smell the paper all over the house, even outside. She discovers a strange smudge mark on the paper, running all around the room, as if it had been rubbed by someone crawling against the wall.

The sub-pattern now clearly resembles a woman who is trying to get out from behind the main pattern. The narrator sees her shaking the bars at night and creeping around during the day, when the woman is able to escape briefly. The narrator mentions that she, too, creeps around at times. She suspects that John and Jennie are aware of her obsession, and she resolves to destroy the paper once and for all, peeling much of it off during the night.

The next day she manages to be alone and goes into something of a frenzy, biting and tearing at the paper in order to free the trapped woman, whom she sees struggling from inside the pattern. By the end, the narrator is hopelessly insane, convinced that there are many creeping women around and that she herself has come out of the wallpaper—that she herself is the trapped woman.

She creeps endlessly around the room, smudging the wallpaper as she goes.


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"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 in The New England Magazine.

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story "The Yellow Wall-paper" was written during a time of great change. In the early- to mid-nineteenth century, "domestic ideology" positioned American middle class women as the spiritual and moral leaders of their home.

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Cltarlotte Perkins Stetson. T is very seldom wall-paper! At first he meant to repaper the room, but afterwards he said that I was letting it get the better of me, and that nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to give way to such fancies. THE YELLOW WALL-PAPER. "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a short story Charlotte Perkins Gilman that was first published in

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She is particularly disturbed by the yellow wallpaper in the bedroom, with its strange, formless pattern, and describes it as “revolting.” Soon, however, her thoughts are interrupted by John’s approach, and she is forced to stop writing. Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born on July 3, , in Hartford, Connecticut. She published her best-known short story "The Yellow Wall-Paper" in One of her greatest works of non-fiction, Women and Economics, was published in Born: Jul 03,