A must read: The yellow wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman


“The yellow wallpaper” is a short story that can be easily be read in one sitting. Despite having been written in the 19th century it’s striking to see how touching it is and for how long mental health stigmas have been prevailing in our society. In this case,  it’s the isolation of a woman who has a mental health crisis after giving birth.

Published in January 1892 by american writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, it is seen as seminal work in feminism literature in the way it depicts the treatment of women at the time it was written. Narrated in the first person, thie story is a collection of journal entries written by her.

She is alone on her old colonial masion that her physician husband rented for the Summer, just having for ocasional company of her servant. After what her husband calls a temporary nervous depression with slight hysterical tendency, he imposes on her a rest cure, where she is confined to an upstairs nursery with barred windows and is forbidden from work and encouraged to just eat and sleep.

With little to none distractions besides her writing, the narrator becomes obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in the room, believing it changes in a very intriguing way. Soon, she sees what she believes to be a woman trapped in the wallpaper.

I widely recommend this piece of literature and I think it enhances our ability to understand others, our overall compassion and empathy.


Paula Gouveia