Many and many a reader has asked that. When the story first came out, in the New England Magazine about 1891, a Boston physician made protest in The Transcript. Such a story ought not to be written, he said; it was enough to drive anyone mad to read it.
Another physician, in Kansas I think, wrote to say that it was the best description of incipient insanity he had ever seen, and–begging my pardon–had I been there?
Now the story of the story is this:
For many years I suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending to melancholia–and beyond. During about the third year of this trouble I went, in devout faith and some faint stir of hope, to a noted specialist in nervous diseases, the best known in the country. This wise man put me to bed and applied the rest cure, to which a still-good physique responded so promptly that he concluded there was nothing much the matter with me, and sent me home with solemn advice to “live as domestic a life as far as possible,” to “have but two hours’ intellectual life a day,” and “never to touch pen, brush, or pencil again” as long as I lived.
This was in 1887.
I went home and obeyed those directions for some three months, and came so near the borderline of utter mental ruin that I could see over.
Then, using the remnants of intelligence that remained, and helped by a wise friend, I cast the noted specialist’s advice to the winds and went to work again–work, the normal life of every human being; work, in which is joy and growth and service, without which one is a pauper and a parasite–ultimately recovering some measure of power.
Being naturally moved to rejoicing by this narrow escape, I wrote The Yellow Wallpaper, with its embellishments and additions, to carry out the ideal (I never had hallucinations or objections to my mural decorations) and sent a copy to the physician who so nearly drove me mad. He never acknowledged it.
The little book is valued by alienists and as a good specimen of one kind of literature. It has, to my knowledge, saved one woman from a similar fate–so terrifying her family that they let her out into normal activity and she recovered.
But the best result is this. Many years later I was told that the great specialist had admitted to friends of his that he had altered his treatment of neurasthenia since reading The Yellow Wallpaper.
It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked.
“Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’“ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
Who Cares About Actresses salutes Julie Delpy, an extraordinary actress, screenwriter and director who repeatedly has the nerve, way before it was trending this year, to critique the bro-culture of the film industry. Here she eviscerates David O. Russell:
“It’s a man’s world, especially in Hollywood. There’s this fear that women are “emotional.” There’s this stigma about women being hysterical, that we’re more emotional, that we’re not as organized, that we can’t rule a set. I can imagine if a woman, on the internet, experienced what happened on “I Heart Huckabees” to David O. Russell, who was basically almost beating up people on set. It’s hilarious. He goes all around the set. Best moment in history. Isabelle Huppert’s just sitting there. I love Lily Tomlin, the way she answers, like, “fuck off.” He’s screaming, throwing things, and everyone’s just waiting around like it happens every day. If a woman did that, she’d never work again for the rest of her life. Ever. I guarantee you, because she would have been labeled as “mad,” “hysterical.” She would’ve been put in a madhouse actually, in a mental institution or on Valium for the rest of her life. What he did, I don’t give a shit. People do whatever they want on their set. But as a woman, if I would even scream at someone once, it’s over for me. A man can get away with so much more. A “great artist” can get away with so much more; a woman can only be hysterical.”
If anybody hasn’t read “The Yellow Wallpaper” by: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, do yourself a favor, and go do it. right now.
I’m going to share with you one of my favorite paragraphs/sections from the story:
“Life is very much more exciting now than it used to be. You see I have something more to expect, to look forward too, to watch. I really do eat better, and am more quiet than I was. John is so pleased to see me improve! He laughed a little the other day, and said I seemed to be flourishing in spite of my wallpaper. I turned it off with a laugh. I had no intention of telling him it was because of the wallpaper - he would make fun of me. He might even want to take me away. I don’t want to leave now until I have found it out. There is a week more, and I think that will be enough.”
literature meme | 5/9 short stories | The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
It used to disturb me at first. I thought seriously of burning the house – to reach the smell. But now I am used to it. The only thing I can think of that it is the color of the paper! A yellow smell. There is a very funny mark on this wall, low down, near the mopboard. A streak that runs round the room. It goes behind every piece of furniture, except the bed, a long straight, even smooch as if it had been rubbed over and over. I wonder how it was done and who did it, and what they did it for. Round and round and round – round and round and round – it makes me dizzy.