Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Gilman

For the women in the twentieth century today, who have more freedom than before
and have not experienced the depressive life that Gilman lived from 1860 to
1935, it is difficult to understand Gilmans situation and understand the
significance of The Yellow Wallpaper. Gilmans original purpose of
writing the story was to gain personal satisfaction if Dr. S. Weir Mitchell
might change his treatment after reading the story. However, as Ann L. Jane
suggests, The Yellow Wallpaper is the best crafted of her fiction: a
genuine literary piecethe most directly, obviously, self-consciously
autobiographical of all her stories (Introduction xvi). And more importantly,
Gilman says in her article in The Forerunner, It was not intended to drive
people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked (20).

Therefore, The Yellow Wallpaper is a revelation of Charlotte Perkins
Gilmans own emotions. When the story first came out in 1892 the critics
considered The Yellow Wallpaper as a portrayal of female insanity rather
than a story that reveals an aspect of society. In The Transcript, a physician
from Boston wrote, Such a story ought not to be writtenit was enough to
drive anyone mad to read it (Gilman 19). This statement implies that any
woman that would write something to show opposition to the dominant social
values must have been insane. In Gilmans time setting The ideal woman was
not only assigned a social role that locked her into her home, but she was also
expected to like it, to be cheerful and gay, smiling and good humored (Lane,
To Herland 109). Those women who rejected this role and pursued intellectual
enlightenment and freedom would be scoffed, alienated, and even punished. This
is exactly what Gilman experienced when she tried to express her desire for
independence. Gilman expressed her emotional and psychological feelings of
rejection from society for thinking freely in The Yellow Wallpaper, which
is a reaction to the fact that it was against the grain of society for women to
pursue intellectual freedom or a career in the late 1800s. Her taking Dr. S.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Weir Mitchells rest cure was the result of the pressures of these
prevalent social values. Charlotte Gilman was born on July 3, 1860, in Hartford,
Connecticut in a family boasting a list of revolutionary thinkers, writers. And
intermarriages among them were, as Carol Berkin put it, in discrete
confirmation of their pride in association (18). One fact that catches our
attention is that, either from the inbreeding, or from the high intellectual
capacity of the family, there was a long sting of disorders ranging from
manic-depressive illness to nervous breakdowns including suicide and short
term hospitalizations (Lane, To Herland 110). Harriet Beecher Stowe, Gilmans
aunt, also complained about this illness. When writing to a friend, Beecher
said, My mind is exhausted and seems to be sinking into deadness (Lane, TO
Herland 111). She felt this way for years and did not recover from so many
breakdowns until finding real release in her writing of Uncle Toms
Cabin (Lane, To Herland 111). And Catherine Beecher, another famous writer and
lecturer at that time, was also sent to the same sanitarium for nervous
disorders. As Gilman came from a family of such well known feminists and
revolutionaries, it is without a doubt that she grew up with the idea that she
had the right to be treated as anyone, whether man or woman. Not only did this
strong background affect her viewpoint about things, it also affected her
relations with her husband and what role she would play in that relationship.

From the beginning of her marriage, she struggled with the idea of conforming to
the domestic model for women. Upon repeated proposals from Stetson, her husband,
Gilman tried to lay bare her torments and reservations about getting
married (Lane, To Herland 85). She claimed that her thoughts, her acts, her
whole life would be centered on husband and children. To do the work she needed
to do, she must be free (Lane, To Herland 85). Gilman was so scared of this
idea because she loved her work and she loved freedom, though she also loved her
husband very much. After a long period of uncertainty and vacillation she
married Charles Stetson at 24 (Lane, Introduction x). Less than a year later,
however, feelings of nervous exhaustion immediately descended upon
Gilman, and she became a mental wreck (Ceplair 17). In that period of
time, she wrote many articles on women caught between families and careers
and the need for women to have


I'm William!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out