"The Yellow Wallpaper"
Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote the short story "Yellow Wallpaper," hoping to save other women from dealing with the things she had to deal with from childbirth. She described her illness shortly after Katherine's birth as a type of nervous depression, and she felt she was compelled "so close to the borderline of utter psychological wreckage that she could not see around it. Although she feels having freedom and daily activity in her life is important, her husband disagrees and belittles her illness, and he locks her in a room, telling her to do nothing at all. She couldn't even work or write to keep her from going absolutely insane. She describes the room by saying, "For the windows are buried for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls" (Gilman 418). The most disturbing thing to the narrator in this story is the yellow wallpaper. She believes that the wallpaper symbolizes something that involves her directly. She becomes very fascinated by the nasty, old, torn-up wallpaper and tries to figure out how it is structured. After she looks at this pattern of the yellow wallpaper for hours and days, she eventually sees it as a woman who is stuck behind bars that were in the room, who were constantly "crawling and stooping" and looking for an escape from behind the main pattern itself which described the resemblance to the bars of the cage. She goes so crazy that she eventually realizes the person stuck behind the cage in the wallpaper was really her in real life. Gilman wisely uses this horrific wallpaper in the story to represent the family or home life that constantly traps so many women.
In the essay "To Herland and Beyond," by Ann Lane, there is a discussion about the circumstances of how women lived during this time period and during the time that "The Yellow Wallpaper" was written. The fact that women were not allowed to "acknowledge negative feelings about their prescribed role" impacted their emotional lives tremendously. Women who lived in this time period had different diseases of nerves among one another, dealt with extreme frustration of how their roles were viewed, and were belittled to an extreme. Having to act to be something that they were not was devastating. Ann Lane mentions how single women would go off to work in a private home or factory, and if you were married and were living in the upper class that they were basically "hostages to their homes." In other words, making no money at all and providing for everyone else. This is extremely effective because all of these women knew they could work and had many talents but society would not believe that, and they were not allowed to do anything out of the normal. This is what causes women to go insane and develop so many diseases. Ann Lane continues by saying:
The outcome of being so confined to such an explosive closed physiological state was predictable: numbers of women struggled, often unsuccessfully, with inte...