Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Yellow Wallpaper

"The Yellow Wallpaper" is a 6,000-word short story by American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, first published in May 1892 in New England Magazine.

In 1887, Charlotte Perkins Gilman found herself suffering from "a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending toward melancholia -- and beyond." Upon seeking professional help, she was advised against more than two hours of intellectual stimulation a day, and was ordered to cease writing, drawing, and painting for the remainder of her life. Three months passed in which Gilman strictly observed these commands. But by ignoring her life's work, even for this seemingly brief period of time, she thrust herself so far into depression that complete mental destruction appeared inevitable. Only by finally renouncing the physician's directions did Gilman escape such a fate.

In the aftermath of her brush with insanity, Gilman wrote "The Yellow Wallpaper" as a warning against submitting to subjugation of the mind. As the narrator experiences the same rest cure as Gilman, her mental health declines and she begins to imagine women trapped within the pattern of her bedroom's wallpaper. Her husband's condescending tone coupled with the narrator's own acquiescence to his close-minded views on her illness eventually lead to her psychological ruin.

This terrifying story is also presented by Chatterbox Audio Theater, who describe it as best listened to in a large, dark room on a windy night.

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