The Yellow Wallpaper

tywTitle: The Yellow Wallpaper

Author: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Summary: Best known for the 1892 title story of this collection, a harrowing tale of a woman’s descent into madness. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote more than 200 other short stories. Seven of her finest are reprinted here.

Written from a feminist perspective, often focusing on the inferior status accorded to women by society, these charming tales are not only highly readable and full of humour and invention, but also offer ample food for thought about the social, economic, and personal relationships of men and women–and how they might be improved.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: I read and adored Gilman’s Herland a few years ago. I did, and still do, think that is a book that should be compulsory reading for everyone. However, after finishing The Yellow Wallpaper and the other short stories contained in this book, i think everyone should read this book first.

The stories are short, easy to read and, on the face of it, easy to digest. Their message–the point Gilman is trying to make in each story–is quite clear, and well told. She has a talent for making her point–for clearly portraying inequality and sexism–without ever making it about us verses them; without outright blaming or alienating men. Really, more men should read her work. And by ‘more’ i mean ‘all’.

My favourite story was by far ‘If I Were A Man’, where a wife inhabits her husband’s mind and body, with both her own and his memories and thoughts. She/he is able to evaluate the mindset of both sexes, and make a small move to bring them to more of an understanding.

The title story, The Yellow Wallpaper, was another excellent story. It felt very much biographical; some how striking a more personal–more real–chord than the other stories. Delving into her psyche and mental health, which are so easy dismissed and overlooked by the males around her. I think this is both a reflection of the time period’s (lack of) understanding of mental health and a comment on sexism. I think both of these are issues that are still rife today, and still desperately need to be talked about more.

My only real qualm with this book is the fact that, by the very nature of short stories, the concepts and issues broached are not delved into deeply enough. They are a light, quick and skimmed view of feminist issues–which is the very reason i think this book would be perfect for people to read before Herland. These stories would plant the seeds that Herland could then help grow.

With Gilman’s bibliography being as long as it is, i feel a strong need to get my hands on some more of her work!

This knocks one square off my Bookish Bingo: A colour in the title.


About Wendleberry
I'm odd.

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