Who Is Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper?

1488 Words6 Pages
In literature, an author’s life experiences are often reflected in their writing. Likewise, the environment and time period of an author, plays a crucial role in the development of their stories. Many cultural, historical and political references are made in literary works. In her short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman reflects upon her own struggles, along with the struggles that women faced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

In 1860, Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born in Hartford Connecticut. As a result of her father leaving her family at such a young age, Gilman vowed that she would never get married (Markham 1). Furthermore, her father’s absence left the family impoverished, limiting her ability
…show more content…
This Victorian era story reflects upon the Victorian view of women. During this era, women were considered weak, less intelligent, child-like, and incapable of solving their problems on their own. This idea is enhanced by Gilman 's choice of setting. The short story takes place in a peculiar setting. The protagonist, along with her family, goes to a run-down mansion in the countryside. Gilman puts her in a shabby room alone. The narrator writes, “The wall-paper, as I said before, is torn off in spots (Gilman 87).” The room has a yellow, peeling wallpaper with a sub-pattern that is symbolic. The sub-pattern is a woman trying to escape from behind the main pattern. Gilman is using the sub-pattern and main pattern to represent the protagonist and her longing to get out of the "cage" she has been living in. In actuality, this mansion is probably a mental health institution for women suffering from postpartum depression. At the end of the short story the protagonist realizes how mistreated she was, and takes matters into her own hand. When she rips off the wallpaper, she is finally free and shows that she is done with her mistreatment.

Similar to the protagonist in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman suffered from postpartum depression following the birth of her daughter. After seeking medical attention, she was advised “to 'live as
…show more content…
Despite the ideology of her time, Gilman never resisted expressing her thoughts and feelings through her writing. By the early twentieth century, she had become an extremely influential women’s rights advocate, and author. Contrary to her doctor’s orders, she decided to reflect on her horrible experiences in her short story, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (U.S. National Library of Medicine). At first, Gilman tried to have her story published in The Atlantic Monthly, but the editor declined because the story made him “miserable” (Straub 1). After being rejected, The New England Magazine agreed to publish Gilman’s story. Expectedly, the story received a lot of feedback from concerned
Open Document