The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Book Review

“John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no REASON to suffer, and that satisfies him.”

I am not an English major, I mostly read for fun, and this review won’t be an in depth analysis of the story.

Goodreads Synopsis: “The Yellow Wallpaper” is written as the secret journal of a woman who, failing to relish the joys of marriage and motherhood, is sentenced to a country rest cure. Though she longs to write, her husband and doctor forbid it, prescribing instead complete passivity. In the involuntary confinement of her bedroom, the hero creates a reality of her own beyond the hypnotic pattern of the faded yellow wallpaper–a pattern that has come to symbolize her own imprisonment. Narrated with superb psychological and dramatic precision, “The Yellow Wallpaper” stands out not only for the imaginative authenticity with which it depicts one woman’s descent into insanity, but also for the power of its testimony to the importance of freedom and self-empowerment for women.

Commentary: First of all, I want to say that I had no idea that I read a feminist short story. I thought it was story about a woman’s descent into madness, but there is more to this story that you would think. The evidence that indicated this story was a feminist text was how the woman’s husband discouraged from writing. I know that around that time period women had very little rights compared to men. The unnamed protagonist was not taken seriously by her husband.  Her husband called her silly goose and thought she was perfectly healthy. The protagonist was depressed, and her illness became as the story goes on. The husband played a huge part in the deterioration of his wife’s mental health. He was constantly telling her what was best for her and dismissed her cries for help. He was not a supportive husband to her when she needed him, and he treated her like a child. The husband was dominant in the relationship, while the protagonist hardly had any control over her life. The wife had no freedom at all, she was stuck in a room all day long, and she lacked any physical activity. She was like a trapped animal in a cage. The ending of the story is wonderful. I felt that the wallpaper was part of her because it is once she destroys the wallpaper that she truly feels free from her oppressor. I love how the husband faints when he finally comes into the room. The story is easy to read, I was surprised that I didn’t need a dictionary to look up words.  Overall, it is a creepy story and I really don’t recommend reading it at 1:47 in the early morning.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

2 thoughts on “The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Book Review

  1. This book sounds really good. I think being surrounded by yellow wall paper would drive me mad too! The themes you describe make me think the the Ibsen play The Dolls House, that’s about a wife who is patronised and not taken seriously by her husband. It’s interesting that these works (and many others) were written by contemporary writers – so there was a feeling among at least some people that all was not right with the gender power balance at the time, it’s not just a case of us looking back and frowning at the period because of our modern sensibilities. I read an anti-feminism essay the other day about how feminism has made women unhappy and that women were all much happier when fulfilling their ‘natural’ role as wives and mothers – I think works like this remind us that that was not the case.


    • I’ll keep The Doll House in mind, it sounds like something I would read as well. That anti-feminism essay sounds a bit terrifying, I hope that essay wasn’t written about modern society. Thanks for your insightful comment 😊

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