Audio Book: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Genre: Classics | Narration Time: 40 mins
Book Intro by Charlotte Perkins Gilman:
Doctor's orders confine a woman suffering from anxiety and depression to her bedroom, in an effort to prevent mental stimulation of any sort. Despite her forced "rest cure," she continues to write in her journal when her husband isn't looking. Her entries record her terrible and growing fascination with the hideous yellow wallpaper that dominates the room, documenting her slow descent into madness. This work by American author Charlotte Perkins Gilman was based on the author's own experiences. She knew firsthand that the nineteenth-century medical establishment often had dangerously misguided ideas about women's mental and physical health. It is considered to be a seminal feminist work by some, a prime example of Gothic horror by others. First published in 1892, this is an unabridged version of Gilman's controversial short story.
I recently acquired a new taste for classics, specifically feminist classics like "The Diary of A Young Girl", "The Color Purple"etc., and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was one of those books that was added to the list. What was unique about this experience was that I listened to this classic via audibly and was truly encouraged to try some more. Although, audiobooks cannot replace the experience of read an actual book, it's definitely something to try.
I had my eye on "The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman" and other short stories for quite sometime now. However, never pursued that feeling. Only when the pandemic hit and when the world was forced to stay indoors, Amazon released a few free versions of the audibook and that's when I picked this amazing book up and what a time to pick. Being forces to stay indoors and not to live life fully was one of the baseline connections that I felt with the character. True, the sufferings of the character was deeper more resentful. With no access to internet or work, to just pass time without direction, to be trapped in one's mind is truly a feeling that a lot of us avoid to experience.
The struggle of this woman to not expand her mind to her full potential, to engage herself in a way that she only knew and could comprehend- just observing those wallpapers and studying them day in and out was sure to make the readers aghast. Driving her mind to what I could possibly never comprehend, to hallucinate and to create an obsession over something as mere as the wallpaper is beyond a sane human's discernment, and yet we try to experiences these sentiments through the book.
While the world talks about a patriarchal system and our exposure allows us to learn new concepts and discard old practices, we may never fully understand what it means to be a woman in the 19th century. Even though her husband may seem kind and compassionate, it almost feels like she is smothered to insanity. Keeping her in control, by constricting her actions and mind, as though almost now allowing her to think or apply her mind a little bit is a harsh and frightening thought. The narration gets more and more complex ans the female protagonist is driven to complete insanity.
A short story, taking almost very little of your time leaves a huge impact. As we try and explore our new reality better, I think understanding these concepts are a huge necessity just to enable ourselves with relevant information. This could expand or understanding or help us develop more empathy, but this book is a definite must read( or listen) !
About the author:
Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born in 1860 in Hartford, Conn. Her traumatic childhood led to depression and to her eventual suicide. Gilman's father abandoned the family when she was a child and her mother, who was not an affectionate woman, recruited relatives to help raise her children. Among these relatives was Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Due to her family situation, Gilman learned independence, but also became alienated from her many female relatives. Gilman married in 1884 and was soon diagnosed with depression. She was prescribed bed rest, which only seemed to aggravate her condition and she eventually divorced her husband, fearing that marriage was partly responsible for her depressed state. After this, Gilman became involved in feminist activities and the writing that made her a major figure in the women's movement. Books such as Women and Economics, written in 1898, are proof of her importance as a feminist. Here she states that only when women learn to be economically independent can true equality be achieved. Her fiction works, particularly The Yellow Wallpaper, are also written with feminist ideals. A frequent lecturer, she also founded the feminist magazine Forerunner in 1909. Gilman, suffering from cancer, chose to end her own life and committed suicide on August 17, 1935. More information about this fascinating figure can be found in her book The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: An Autobiography, published in 1935. Search Charlotte Perkins Gilman
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