The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman discussion
1. Read the story “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and write a discussion about it. Just like a reading journal about themes, meaning of the story, and whatever you understand about this story.
2. Read the story “The Story of An Hour” by Chopin, Kate, and write a discussion about it. Just like a reading journal about themes, meaning of the story, and whatever you understand about this story.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” details the deterioration of a woman’s mental health while she is on a “rest cure” on a rented summer country estate with her family. Her obsession with the yellow wallpaper in her bedroom marks her descent into psychosis from her depression throughout the story.
The narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” begins the story by discussing her move to a beautiful estate for the summer. Her husband, John, is also her doctor, and the move is meant in part to help the narrator overcome her “illness,” which she explains as nervous depression, or nervousness, following the birth of their baby. John’s sister, Jennie, also lives with them and works as their housekeeper.
Though her husband believes she will get better with rest and by not worrying about anything, the narrator has an active imagination and likes to write. He discourages her wonder about the house, and dismisses her interests. She mentions her baby more than once, though there is a nurse that cares for the baby, and the narrator herself is too nervous to provide care.
The narrator and her husband move into a large room that has ugly, yellow wallpaper that the narrator criticizes. She asks her husband if they can change rooms and move downstairs, and he rejects her. The more she stays in the room, the more the narrator’s fascination with the hideous wallpaper grows.
After hosting family for July 4th, the narrator expresses feeling even worse and more exhausted. She struggles to do daily activities, and her mental state is deteriorating. John encourages her to rest more, and the narrator hides her writing from him because he disapproves.
In the time between July 4th and their departure, the narrator is seemingly driven insane by the yellow wallpaper; she sleeps all day and stays up all night to stare at it, believing that it comes alive, and the patterns change and move. Then, she begins to believe that there is a woman in the wallpaper who alters the patterns and is watching her.
A few weeks before their departure, John stays overnight in town and the narrator wants to sleep in the room by herself so she can stare at the wallpaper uninterrupted. She locks out Jennie and believes that she can see the woman in the wallpaper. John returns and frantically tries to be let in, and the narrator refuses; John is able to enter the room and finds the narrator crawling on the floor. She claims that the woman in the wallpaper has finally exited, and John faints, much to her surprise.