“The Yellow Wallpaper” is a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman that was first published in 1892. It is a pivotal work of feminist literature that explores the mental and emotional challenges faced by women in the 19th century. The story is presented in the form of a series of journal entries written by an unnamed woman likely suffering from postpartum depression. Confined to a room in her home by her physician husband, she becomes increasingly obsessed with the yellow wallpaper that adorns the room.

Set in a colonial mansion during the late 19th century, the story sheds light on the treatment of women's mental health during that era. The protagonist’s descent into madness is intricately linked to her social confinement, lack of agency, and the paternalistic attitudes of the medical profession. First published in The New England Magazine during a period of growing awareness of women’s issues and their role in society, “The Yellow Wallpaper” initially raised eyebrows among critics for its graphic and gothic details, but feminist theorists in the 1970s renewed interest in the work by highlighting its commentary on the restrictive nature of domesticity.

“The Yellow Wallpaper” is now considered a classic in feminist literature. The story addresses themes of patriarchal control, the stifling nature of gender roles, and the consequences of denying women autonomy over their own lives. Its impact on discussions of mental health, gender, and social norms has endured over the years.

Read the free full text, the full plot summary, an in-depth character analysis of the unnamed narrator, and explanations of important quotes from “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

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