Monday, January 03, 2011

The Yellow WallpaperThe Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my second read of this story, and I gave it four stars this time. It's a very well-written story. Ms. Gilmore crafted this tale in such a way that you feel as twisted as the narrator does. It's clear that mental illness plays a major role in the mindset of the narrator. But, there is a little shred of doubt (at least in my mind) that there might be some otherworldly component. It's hard to tell, because we are seeing things through her perceptions, which are clearly not rational.

I think there is a powerful message here. Husbands often had way too much control over their wives. Probably still the case. The husband in this story treated his wife like she was a child. He dismissed her thoughts and needs, and constantly told her what was best for her. He didn't treat her like a partner. I think that his treatment of her played a role in her deterioration.

I read about the author, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, on Wikipedia. She was a feminist who crusaded to help women in the time period in which she lived. I could see how she masterfully threaded some real-life themes into this story. It would give any reader something to think about, and I imagine it made a few people, particularly men, angry at the time in which it was published.

This is considered a feminist work. I don't think that you have to be a feminist to appreciate this message. As an egalitarian, I definitely felt this message. I felt sympathy for this woman. I think that she felt caged in and didn't have her needs met, and something inside of her twisted until she left sanity behind. It's quite a sad thing that the people who loved her contributed by their gentle neglect. If she had been listened to, and really heard, maybe things would have gone differently.

This is just my perception of this story. No doubt, a different reader will glean a dissimilar meaning from this work. In my opinion, The Yellow Wallpaper is a story that should be read more than one time. I feel I encountered more subtext and layers upon the second read. I'll keep it on my Kindle, because it's one I would like to revisit.

View all my reviews


Anonymous said...

I actually read this story a year or two ago. I agree about the powerful message coming through in the story. Back then women weren't seen as much more than a fragile little girl who couldn't handle anything. I also agree that the husband and society's treatment of her lead to her downfall.

Great review

Danielle said...

Thanks, Barbara. I think I will find new meaning each time I read this.