The Yellow Wallpaper Study Guide

A young woman experiences postpartum depression. Her husband (a physician) takes her on vacation to a mansion to recover by “rest cure.” She loses her mind being confined to a room with a yellow wallpaper. But what is the short story really about? “The Yellow Wallpaper” Study Guide answers this and many other intricate questions.

The Yellow Wallpaper Key Facts

Full Name The Yellow Wallpaper
Author Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Genre Short story, novella
Date of Publishing January 1892
Setting (Time) Late 19th century
Setting (Place) Secluded colonial mansion “three miles from the village”

The Yellow Wallpaper Articles

The Yellow Wallpaper: Summary

This article contains all you need to know about the summary of “The Yellow Wallpaper”: a plot infographic and a detailed description of the story’s entries.

The Yellow Wallpaper: Characters

This article contains all the information about The Yellow Wallpaper’s characters: the narrator, John, Mary, and Jennie. At the end of the article, you’ll learn who Jane in The Yellow Wallpaper is.

The Yellow Wallpaper: Themes

This article provides a wide-ranging and diverse explanation of The Yellow Wallpaper’s themes. The core issues represented in Gilman’s writing are gender roles, mental disorders, and freedom.

The Yellow Wallpaper: Analysis

This article contains comprehensive analysis of “The Yellow Wallpaper”: symbolism of the story, the most impressive literary devices used by Gilman, point of view, foreshadowing, and an explanation of the ending’s meaning.

The Yellow Wallpaper: Essay Topics & Samples

At some point in your studying, you might be asked to produce “The Yellow Wallpaper” analysis essay. This article contains a list of essay topics, writing prompts, and samples.

The Yellow Wallpaper: Historical Context

The short story was written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1892. Back then, mental illness was still misunderstood and stigmatized, especially in women. “The Yellow Wallpaper” critiques the oppressive treatment methods of its time, particularly the perils of the “rest cure” which the author herself underwent. 

In 1913 Gilman published an article entitled “Why I Wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”.” There is no mystery about her interest in the topic of neurasthenia. Her melancholy that lasted for three years was treated by the so-called “rest cure.” She obeyed the doctor’s instructions and avoided any mental or physical activity. After three months, Charlotte found herself “near the border line of utter mental ruin.” The treatment worsened her condition. Some years later, her doctor admitted that the short story made him alter his methods. 

But the symbolism and social criticism in her novella remain to be explored in the historical background. Gilman wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper” in the context of gender roles that prevailed in the 19th century. Men were breadwinners and dealt with the social life of their families. Women were supposed to lead a domestic life as a counterbalance to the male “aggressive role.” Moreover, they were seen as vulnerable creatures that required protection and care.

The short story is a fictional analysis of the adverse effects of such an inferior position. Men decide how to treat “nervous conditions,” where to go on vacations, which room to select, and how to spend the day. The protagonist believes that her husband acts out of love for her. But in the end, her madness gave her a clear-eyed perception of their relationships.

The story appeared ten years after the adoption of the Married Women’s Property Act (1882). The document gave women control over their income and property. The suffrage laws were gradually introduced in multiple states in the second half of the 19th century. The feminist literature was a natural reflection of the hot-button issues in society.

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