Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman

I actually read this for free online... it took me about 25 minutes to read the whole story so I'm glad I didn't spend any money on it. But I AM glad that I read it. This is a strange little short story from the viewpoint of a woman who has recently given birth and suffers from post-partum depression. The cure for this at the time was strict bed rest with little to no mental stimulation. Our poor protagonist is married to a physician who believes that she needs to spend as much time as possible resting.

Because women were considered weak and incapable of handling too much thinking, the diagnosis is to prevent them from thinking. This was used to cure anxiety and depression... but anyone who has ever been forced into bedrest knows that all you do when laying there is think... and your thoughts get a little screwy after you've stared at the ceiling counting the dots. So is our heroine loosing her mind or is that horrible wall paper actually changing, showing her things, is there a woman behind bars trying to escape? Or is she projecting her misery with her confinement, her husband, and her situation into the frayed and torn wallpaper.

This was really a fun read that I could envision people having hours and hours of discussion on. It's one of those little bits of writing that you can easily gloss over and not think of again... but if you pull back that first layer you'll discover that there is so much more to this tiny little tale. I highly recommend taking the 20 minutes it will take you to read this, specifically to women and people in the medical profession... the insanity of what the medical profession used to believe is unbelievable.

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