But really, the Shining reference above is woefully incapable of really capturing The Yellow Wallpaper's narrative, history, and meteoric impact. Written in the late nineteenth century, the story functions as a critique of the era's ideas of mental health, especially as they pertain to women. Wallpaper's narrator has recently been prescribed rest leave as a response to her "hysterical tendencies," a cure which involves locking in a room alone, prohibited from visiting her newborn child for fear it would overtax her, and all around boredom. As a response, the narrator begins keeping a secret diary to help alleviate her cabin fever. Her entries take a turn for the bizarre and then the outright bone-chilling as she begins to see a pattern in the horrid, ugly wallpaper adorning her room, a pattern which soon develops into a figure creeping through the walls. Aside from its importance to the development of women's mental health, The Yellow Wallpaper is a fantastic horror story, one of the spookier that I have had the pleasure to read. It is short enough to read in one sitting but more than good enough to warrant revisiting it many times over.
Known primarily for her classic and haunting story "The Yellow Wallpaper," Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an enormously influential American feminist and sociologist. Her early-twentieth-century writings continue to inspire writers and activists today. This collection includes selections from both her fiction and nonfiction work. In addition to the title story, there are seven short stories collected here that combine humor, anger, and startling vision to suggest how women's "place" in society should be changed to benefit all. The nonfiction selections are from Gilman's The Man-Made World: Our Androcentric Culture and her masterpiece, Women And Economics, which was translated into seven languages and established her international reputation as a theorist. Also included in a delightful excerpt from Gilman's utopian novel, Herland, an acidly funny tale about three American male explorers who stumble into an all-female society and begin their odyssey by insisting, "This is a civilized country . . . there must be men." Gilman's analyses of economic and women's issues are as incisive and relevant today as they were upon their original publication. This volume is an unprecedented opportunity to rediscover a powerful American writer.