Saturday 4 November 2017

THE YELLOW WALLPAPER by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow. What a clever story!

My daughter read this for English, and since she knows I like creepy tales of madness, she recommended I check this out.

I'm glad I did.

A woman and her husband go to stay in a country house for three months so she can rest. She has a 'condition' that isn't revealed at the beginning, and there's a baby she can't bring herself to look after. Oh, and there's the fact that her doctor husband treats her like she's a foolish child who needs rest and nothing else. And that's how she ends up spending so much time in the upstairs room with ugly yellow wallpaper and the nailed bed. O.o

She hates the wallpaper with a passion from the very beginning, so it's no surprise when she starts to notice things moving behind it...

This story might be short but it definitely packs a heavy punch that knocks the reader off their feet. The imagery is vivid and so darn freaky. The main character's descent into a delusional state is terrifying. The transition happens so smoothly and so unexpectedly that I wasn't ready. YET, everything came crashing down into my brain at the same time. Until so many of the hints throughout the narrative finally made sense.

I especially found the revelation about the streak marking the wall all the way around to be super creepy. Yikes.

I guess everyone will get a different meaning from this fascinating and well-written story, but I'll share mine. I think the MC is definitely suffering from post-natal depression, and that's why she sleeps a lot and is always tired and doesn't spend time with the baby. I also think it's about what forced isolation can do to a person. Her husband might be a doctor, but he treated her like she was a delicate useless thing and I even suspected him of slipping something into her food and drink.

Oh, and another very important issue is her desire to write. Her husband pretty much forbids her from doing it, so she writes in secret. She's also clearly a creative person who is prone to letting her imagination wander freely. And when a writer doesn't write, she isn't able to use it as an outlet to channel her ideas, thoughts and feelings. And I think suppressing her natural desire to write is what tipped her over the edge.

The woman caged behind the yellow wallpaper was always her, because that was exactly how she felt. She was a prisoner in her own life, and because she never socialised with anyone and didn't write as much and as freely as she wanted to, she slowly tumbled into the madness of delirium.

Um, I didn't realise a short story would encourage such a long review. But when it comes to women and how badly they were treated (and still are) I have a lot to say!

PS. After discussing my thoughts with my daughter, we decided that this story also totally works as a freaky supernatural tale full of intrigue. And THAT just makes this so much better.

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