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The Yellow Wallpaper

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  37,945 ratings  ·  1,484 reviews
First published in 1892, "The Yellow Wallpaper" is written as the secret journal of a woman who, failing to relish the joys of marriage and motherhood, is sentenced to a country rest cure. Though she longs to write, her husband and doctor forbid it, prescribing instead complete passivity. In the involuntary confinement of her bedroom, the hero creates a reality of her own ...more
Kindle Edition, Short story, 63 pages
Published (first published 1892)
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Michelle Milburn This is based on the authors experiences as a patient suffereing from depression. She was apparently only allowed 2 hours of mental exercise per day…moreThis is based on the authors experiences as a patient suffereing from depression. She was apparently only allowed 2 hours of mental exercise per day which almost drove her insane. As she came out of her depression she embellished and exaggerated the experiences she had and wrote The Yellow Wallpaper.(less)
The Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathGirl, Interrupted by Susanna KaysenAn Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield JamisonSurviving the Fourth Cycle by Nathan DanielsThe Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Memoirs of Madness
5th out of 210 books — 250 voters
The Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathIt's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned VizziniOne Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken KeseyPhenomena by Susan TarrVeronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
Mental Hospital Novels
14th out of 194 books — 598 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Khanh (Clowns, Nightmares, and Bunnies)
If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do?
This may not be a ghost story, but it is a tale of horror just the same. The most frightening books do not make me cower underneath my covers in the dark. They give the feeling of despair, they make the reader empathize with the darkness and emotional turmoil of the narrator. They
...more
Jessica
This has got to be one of the most impressive short stories ever written, up there with the very best. Written in the late 1800's, it is surprisingly modern in its form & content. When I was an undergraduate, Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an undiscovered writer, but thankfully she's been very much discovered now: I've read her nonfiction ('Women and Economics'--very forward-thinking re: communal kitchens and daycare) and her utopian novel, 'Herland.' She also has some other terrific short sto ...more
Lynn
I typed the title into the search just to see if it would come up...

I had no idea that this was a classic work. I never could recall the authors name, but from the reviews I can see that I am not alone in how it still sits with me decades later. I was only 13 or 14 years old when I sat in on my aunt's college literature class. I sat in the back and the teacher gave me a black and white copy of the text so I could read along with the class. I remember the debate raged on in the class, but we rea
...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
This is my second read of this story, and I gave it four stars this time. It's a very well-written story. Ms. Gilmore crafted this tale in such a way that you feel as twisted as the narrator does. It's clear that mental illness plays a major role in the mindset of the narrator. But, there is a little shred of doubt (at least in my mind) that there might be some otherworldly component. It's hard to tell, because we are seeing things through her perceptions, which are clearly not rational.

I think
...more
Bonnie
Apr 16, 2015 Bonnie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bonnie by: 1001 Books to Read Before You Die
’This paper looks to me as if it KNEW what a vicious influence it had!

There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down. I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness. Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd, unblinking eyes are everywhere. There is one place where two breadths didn't match, and the eyes go all up and down the line, one a little higher than the other.’


Man, that yellow wal
...more
Adam
This book stands out in my mind mainly because of an argument I had with our English teacher that lasted the length of an entire English class, over whether or not the room was actually originally a childrens' playroom, or some kind of sinister crazy-wife-locking-up-room.

My argument: "She's an unreliable narrator! And why would a children's playroom have weird metal rings on the walls and bars on the windows?"
Her argument: "Yes, but she says it's a childrens' playroom."
My counter-argument: "BUT
...more
Shruti
A “descent” into madness. Or is it one?

You watch her as she spirals out of “control”. Delicious spirals. Radiating towards you. A centrifuge, drawing you in.
You watch as she etches her inky inklings, then watch as they grow into a black hole of reality, hers and then yours. Watch.

The wallpaper of her home/house/prison leers at her, and then you. Yellow, peeling.
Her family/housemates/captors leer at her madness, and then yours.

It is insidious this wallpaper. One moment it is inorganic, barre
...more
Stacey (prettybooks)
This post is part of the 2015 Classics Challenge.

WHEN I Discovered This Classic
I discovered it while browsing Penguin's Little Black Classics. I've always been interested in mental illness and discussions about mental illness – including taking two 'Madness and Society' courses at university – and so it seemed like a great one to try out. I bought it alongside The Old Nurse's Story .

WHY I Chose to Read It
I wanted to read an 'old' classic in April and because I've been quite a slow reader this
...more
Joseph
A slow slip into madness. Haunting. A touch horror mixed with a psychological Johnny Got His Gun.

The obsession with the wallpaper reminded me of when I was a young child. In the predawn light I would watch a painting in our living room of a ball. I believed I actually saw the people dance inside the painting. I would watch the dance until one of my parents woke or it became full daylight; the dance would stop. A trick of light or just an over active imagination, I am not sure. But that's memory
...more
Tadiana ♕Part-Time Dictator♕
The first time I read this 1892 short story, years ago, in a collection of horror stories, I thought awful and very creepy things were really happening to the main character; i.e., weird fungus-growing wallpaper and a weirder lady actually hiding in the wallpaper pattern of a young wife's room in their vacation home. <----- I was a little young and often oblivious to subtext.

On second read, it's clear that the horror is of a different sort: the main character is slowly going psychotic. It's s
...more
Stephen
3.0 stars. "Eerie" is the best word I can think of to describe this classic story about a woman's slow descent into madness after suffering what appears to be the effects of postpartum depression following the birth of her child. Written in the 1890's this is a classic piece of gothic fiction. I didn't love it but certainly found it a unique story that will stay with me for sometime.
Jean
The Yellow Wallpaper is a short novella from 1892, which has become a classic of the genre. It is a claustrophobic depiction of what would then be described as a woman's descent into madness, but now sounds more like severe post-natal depression. The story consists of passages from a secret journal, kept by the woman, Jane, who is losing her grip on reality. The narrator is confined to the upstairs bedroom of a house by her doctor husband, John, who diagnoses a "temporary nervous depression - a ...more
Fatin
I read this one initially as a reading assignment for language class. I was blown away. I read it, then I read it again, then again, then we analysed it in class, then I went back home and read it again, and then I bought the book and read it again. And then once again after my mother had read it. Magnificence continues to seep in whenever I read it again.
I've heard some bullshit theory about how this book is no longer relatable or something, and that just makes me angry because yes, it was wri
...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
In Edgar Allan Poe's "A Tell-Tale Heart" an insane man narrates. Here, a young wife, seemingly on the verge of full-blown insanity, hallucinates in a vacation house with the old, yellow wallpaper in her assigned room as the main focal point of her growing delirium.

She writes this in short, crisp sentences with many paragraphs going just one or two sentences. There's a keen sense of immediacy. She says her husband forbids her from writing, partly blaming it for what makes her nerves fail. He is a
...more
Sue
Well-written description of a "nervous" woman's descent into full madness. This was initially published in 1892 but still can make the reader shiver.
Flannery
Originally published in 1899, the slight, 30-odd page story is one of the creepiest glimpses into the process of a mental breakdown I have ever read. Republished by The Feminist Press in 1973, the afterword of the edition I read spoke of the author’s prolific career as a writer, poet, publisher, and academic. She wrote several textbooks, opened her own school, and for several years of her life wrote, published, and edited her own magazine, which amounted to about 21,000 words per month. (Hedges, ...more
Carol
OH THE POWER OF THE WRITTEN WORD.....In this compelling and ingenious short story of insanity, I could just "feel" the torment and inner turmoil of the female narrator's controlled world.....her need to tear down the rest of the creepy wallpaper with the eyes that see and movement beneath......to be rid of the bolts holding the bed to the floor and bars on the windows......and, most of all, to eliminate the chains holding her under (her husband) Dr. John's rule.....

This "dark" 21 page look at h

...more
Jonnie
Nov 29, 2014 Jonnie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jonnie by: Pragya
Shelves: classics, short-reads
John does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no REASON to suffer, and that satisfies him.

This is a short and incredibly fascinating read about a pseudonymous female protagonist and her disturbing and thoughtfully penned journal entries, ultimately showing her decent into insanity. After finishing, I indulged in the same form of literary research as I did with Animal Farm, and found an article on nervous illnesses, which brought me to Silas Weir Mitchel - inventor of the rest cu
...more
Lisa
Jan 08, 2011 Lisa rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: A Rat in the Book Pile (Sarahbbc)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vanessa
It was great to come back to this short story, which I last read in high school. So clever and sinister, and brings up a variety of topics such as feminism, manipulation and mental illness. I also thoroughly enjoyed the other two stories in this book - both were surprisingly dark and morbid, two things I love! I'll definitely have to pick up a full collection of Gilman's stories.
Dorcas
3.5 Stars
There's nothing like conflicting reviews to make me want to read a book. Up until a half hour ago I never heard of this short story. I read the blurb and thought, oooh psychological thriller, yes please.

Basically it's about a woman's decent into madness while staying in an attic room covered with ugly yellow wallpaper. We've all seen paper like this. The kind of pattern that twists and turns and makes phantom pictures when you're trying to sleep.

Little by little, the woman starts to "f
...more
Julia
To summarize this book in one sentence: The Yellow Wallpaper is about a woman's descent into the harrowing grasp of Post Partum Depression while her husband and sister-in-law ignore her growing issues out of ignorance, blind righteousness and fear.

This story starts out seemingly harmless enough. A woman and her husband move to the countryside so that she can recover from a mysterious ailment. Her husband seems to be careful, even overprotective - "He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets m
...more
David
Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" can certainly be read on a number of levels. On the surface it is the stirring story of a woman descending deeper into a neurasthenic psychosis, chronicling her descent in a secret diary, but there are many other layers and angles which haunt Gilman's slim story.

There is the feminist angle, which is perhaps the most common strata of meaning employed in analysis of this short story, and one on which I will not dwell. In many ways it echoes Ibsen's Doll's House, wi
...more
Moses Kilolo
Sep 30, 2013 Moses Kilolo rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Moses by: Mal Odious
The introduction to this short short story tells us that the author; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, suffered a severe form of postpartum depression. That, and the fact that she was an accomplished and an unapologetic feminist, combines to inspire this story, published in 1892 and still very relevant.

The Opening sentence; it is seldom that a mere ordinary people... prepares us not just for a different era, but also a way of life and the people that saw and lived life differently.

Their world is seen th
...more
Kristin ❋extols death with luminescent brilliance❋



A-Z Challenge with Karly and Jess

G = Gilman, Charlotte Perkins

4 stars

Mental health has been misunderstood for centuries, particularly in women. In the Victorian days they were diagnosed as having hysteria or nervousness. In the 1950's, women were institutionalized and lobotomized. The Yellow Wallpaper is a prime example of a woman's decent into madness while her physician husband stands by and tells her she is fine and just needs to rest. But what lurks in your mind can often be scarier than gho
...more
Pragya
Jan 24, 2012 Pragya rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Psychology and mental health enthusiasts and readers
Recommended to Pragya by: Mikki
Shelves: 2012, psychology
A sort of creepy book in which the protagonist creeps all over. Ha ha! You have to read the story to understand what I mean. The story is told from the depths of mental illness- clear, vivid, amusing, disheartening and striking! I loved the conceptualization and description of the story. A little read but it makes you think for hours after. The language is beautiful and there is so much show rather than tell in the writing that I could see clear visuals of the happenings. You must read this one ...more
Keely
Roland Barthes talked about 'writerly' and 'readerly' books. I've struggled for a long time, myself, in trying to come up for terms to talk about the differences between deliberate works and those which are too bumbling, too one-sided, or too ill-informed to make the reader think.

While The Yellow Wallpaper brings up interesting points, it does not really deal with them. The text has become part of the canon not for the ability of the author, which is on the more stimulating end of middling, but
...more
Thomas
I usually don't enjoy short stories, and I was originally going to give this one a 3-3.5, but after analyzing it in my AP Lang class I've decided to rate it 4 stars.

I loved how the horror/creepiness aspect of the story was combined with the theme of feminism. The extended metaphor of the wallpaper as the restricting force that oppresses women in society worked well, and the narrator's unreliability and descent into dementia was unsettling and powerful. If one were to read this short story and no
...more
Marvin
Short, odd and maybe a bit too over-hyped for me to thoroughly enjoy it.This early feminist tale tries to be a bit too obtuse for my taste. Is the narrator going mad ? is she already mad? Did the treatment for her depression make her mad? Do I care? All of these question are diverted by an unreliable narrator and complicated by an unreliable reviewer. If only I can get someone to remove this Hello Kitty wallpaper that showed up in my office overnight, perhaps I can make sense of everything. Wher ...more
Riku Sayuj
Nov 26, 2011 Riku Sayuj rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tanuj Solanki
What a brilliant descent into madness. How horrifying. I read this too young and it completely over powered me. I think it also gave me a fever...
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Jane? 1 14 Apr 30, 2015 08:30PM  
500 Great Books B...: The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman 2 21 Dec 11, 2014 01:07PM  
short story, masculinity 3 30 Oct 13, 2014 03:51PM  
Did anyone else get chills? 17 125 Sep 02, 2014 08:11AM  
Books2Movies Club: The Yellow Wallpaper 5 22 Jul 03, 2014 07:39AM  
I think this is my favourite short story. 11 105 Mar 03, 2014 04:56PM  
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Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and non fiction, and a lecturer for social reform. She was a utopian feminist during a time when her accomplishments were exceptional for women, and she served as a role model for future generations of feminists because of her unorthodox concepts and lifestyle. Her best remembered work today i ...more
More about Charlotte Perkins Gilman...
The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Stories Herland Herland, The Yellow Wall-Paper, and Selected Writings Herland and Selected Stories Women and Economics

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“But I MUST say what I feel and think in some way — it is such a relief! But the effort is getting to be greater than the relief.” 27 likes
“Now why should that man have fainted? But he did,and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!” 20 likes
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