The Yellow Wallpaper By Charlotte Perkins Gilman : A Classic Feminist Story on Post-natal Depression
“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a very important book. It's a classic feminist book published in 1982. I was startled when I got to know it’s an autobiographical work, or at least, originated from it.
It is a story of a woman who lives in a rented mansion with her husband John, who is a physician. The woman, who is also the narrator of this story, is under postnatal care. She is going through depression after the birth of her child. The doctor has advised her to take rest, mentally and physically both. A few days into the house and she starts noticing something unusual. Something that disturbs her a lot but she relates to it. It’s the wallpaper of the room they are living into.
“I never saw a worse paper in my life. One of those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin.”
She tells John that it disturbs her and haunts her (mostly). But every time she tries to mention it to John, he laughs at her and tells her that it’s nothing. He asks her to take care of herself for ‘his sake’, for ‘their baby’s sake’. He restricts her and convinces her that all he is doing is for her good only. (Typical! Ahem! Too Typical!)
“I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time.”
That woman isn’t allowed to write, imagine or create anything. So, all she does is lay in her room and make some journal entries when John isn’t around. The wallpaper keeps on haunting her with the presence of someone, someone she relates to. Trapped. Restricted. She fights her own inner battles. But there comes a threshold point and she takes a step. She responses to her inner shrieks and helps herself and makes an escape from the trap. Forever!
What I totally admire about this book is, it gives out the ‘LOUD’ message that should reach more and more people. Just in a few pages, this book explores the themes of an identity crisis, patriarchy, loneliness, postpartum depression, mental decay, etc. This book is fast-paced and doesn't let you go.
Though this is extremely short and powerful, it isn’t for everyone. The symbolism can be tough to understand for some but that is the one thing that I loved about this book. I can’t ( shouldn’t) explain the symbolism here. It is supposed to be found out by the reader. The reference is just brilliant!
I think, I failed to review this. I don't know the target audience. So, read it/ Do not read it. But it's an important book.
Overall, it was a fast and incredible ( and slightly creepy) read for me. Creepy because I watched the short film immediately after reading this. The visual representation was too much to handle, to be honest.
But I would say, this book is a masterpiece which is to the point, way ahead of its time in some areas, and still relatable to our current culture.