’31 Tales of Terror’ #4: The Yellow Wallpaper

*Title: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Date Read: 15 October 2008
Available Online?: YES
Briefly: Written in the form of personal diary entries, this first person narrative follows a woman’s descent into madness, a madness that sees her becoming more and more obsessed with the wallpaper in the bedroom of her summer residency.
Afterthoughts: I love descents into madness (which is probably why Hunger is one of my all-time favourite novels), and this is one of the finest I’ve read, at least in short story form. Gilman is genius in using the character’s focus on the wallpaper as a ‘measure’ for demonstrating her deteriorating mental state, and although not terrifying in a visual sense, the psychosis of the character sent a real shiver down my spine. I loved it! What begins as a passing mention in the opening entries in the diary ends with a total fixation on nothing but the wallpaper – Absolute genius Ms. Gilman, absolute genius!
Notable Quote: “I lie here on this great immovable bed—it is nailed down, I believe—and follow that pattern about by the hour. It is as good as gymnastics, I assure you. I start, we’ll say, at the bottom, down in the corner over there where it has not been touched, and I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless pattern to some sort of a conclusion.”

Rating: ★★★★★

*Story read as part of the 31 Tales of Terror reading challenge.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).

Comments

  1. I love this story too! I think it’s a woman’s story of being repressed in the era.

  2. I really enjoyed this story too. As well as Hunger of course. Thanks for reviewing them.

  3. Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
    says:

    @Rebecca – You read a lot deeper than me. But I can see where the ‘women’s repression’ notion comes from.
    @Sandra – I’m glad you liked it too (I must be in good company :o)). It perhaps not as sublime as Hunger In my opinion, but I just found it to be an incredibly well written tale.

  4. I just read this; did you read the edition with the afterword by Elaine Hedges? I thought it was very telling. Gilman may have been a feminist, but she was still completely a product of her time.

    • Rob (Twitter: robaroundbooks)
      says:

      In a word Andrea – No! I went for the cheapskate download-a-free-copy-onto-the-reader-option. Sounds like the Hedges piece is necessary reading.
      Warmest
      Rob