Monday, March 30, 2009

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

One of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper is a novella of a mere 23 pages. However, it is a hauntingly spare depiction of the descent into madness. The Victorian narrator has been removed from her home to a cottage in the country in order to recover from a nervous breakdown. However, the "resting cure" is foiled when her husband, a physician himself, chooses to situate their bedroom in the former nursery, a room with walls covered by a wallpaper the narrator describes as repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, with patterns in it that commit every artistic sin. Supposed to be resting, the narrator becomes obsessed with the wallpaper and its pattern. Eventually it begins to drive her mad. (Or does it?) She begins to see a women caught behind bars formed by the wallpaper's pattern. She soon becomes wild and violent, tearing at the wallpaper; biting the bedposts. At the conclusion of the novella, she locks herself in the room, the madness overcoming her completely.

This short novella was quite creepy. Not in a BOO! scary kind of way. But instead, in a raise the hairs on the back of your neck way. However, I cannot say that I enjoyed it all that much, so I would not necessarily recommend it to anyone. I certainly wouldn't characterize it as something you must read before you die.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I read this a while ago. I have to agree that it was creepy. I don't know if I enjoyed it, exactly, but I think it was defintely worth reading.