The Yellow Wall-Paper

The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Elaine Hedges In order to truly appreciate Charlotte Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," the reader needs to know how psychiatric illness was treated during the Victorian era. Women suffering from any form of mental illness were cautioned against work of any kind (see Women and Mental Illness for reference) because it was thought that their minds could not bear the strain.So, with this in mind, we see Gilman's nameless protagonist consigned to an upstairs room by her husband, John. There is nothing there to occupy her time except her writing, which she can only do in secret because she is supposed to be "resting."The woman becomes obsessed with seeking patterns in the peeling, yellow wallpaper in the room where she is imprisoned, eventually going mad due to the isolation. I believe that Gilman wrote this tale as a caution against the way women were treated during her era; it is now widely known that meaningful occupation and human interaction is a far greater tonic to the depressed than any medication or isolation has proven to be.Highly recommended reading for anyone who wants to understand the psychology of depression.