Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a well-known women right advocate and tough journalist. No issue or social wrongdoing would escape her unwavering pen. While marriage is a game of two, it isn’t always an equal game. The downsides of women being sentenced to staying at home were the center of most of her works.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is one of her most vivid and provoking books on this topic. It’s no secret that the book’s events are based on Charlotte’s own experiences. During her first marriage she suffered from a severe depression episode and being subjected to a treatment of less mental activity and more attention to household had an even more devastating effect on her. The only thing that saved her at that time was a scandalous act of leaving her husband and child and becoming a journalist.
The story opens with the thoughts of a young woman who suffers from the nervous disorder. She is brought to a summer house by her husband and knows neither the story of this house nor how they could have afforded such a huge mansion.
The house soon starts to scare her. She writes about it in her secret diary. There she talks about how more activity and stimulating encounters could have made her condition better. Then she gets more and more destructed by the menacing color and pattern of the wallpaper in the bedroom.
As her depression grows, she tends to like and then becomes obsessed with the wallpaper. She can smell it, she spends hours trying to figure out its pattern. Finally, she tears it off trying to free the woman that is trapped underneath.
Call it psychological horror, Gothic literature or fiction genre – it doesn’t change the fact that the book is a chilling and powerful scream for enabling more active women’s roles in the society. It’s spooky, it’s touching and it preserves its relevance even today.