Synopsis: Set in the late 19th century, this story concerns a woman suffering from some sort of depression who tells the story of her time undergoing a “rest cure” as prescribed by her husband/physician. She becomes increasingly fascinated with the yellow wallpaper in the bedroom of the house where she is staying.
So, my terrible summary above doesn’t do this story justice. A (justifiably) famous short story, the voice, perspective, and control of language makes this story horribly believable; in some ways, this feels as if it could be a contemporary piece. Teaching it for the second year has opened up many new interpretations to me, but even if it’s interpreted at its most logical surface level, “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a powerful indictment of those who deprive female and mental agency and of the ever-shifting methods of psychological treatment. And it’s just unbelievably well written. A sample:
There is one marked peculiarity about
this paper, a thing nobody seems to notice but
myself, and that is that it changes as the light
When the sun shoots in through the east
window — I always watch for that first long,
straight ray — it changes so quickly that I never
can quite believe it.
That is why I watch it always.