illustration of the original
version of "Yellow Wallpaper"
story, in part, presents a nineteenth century medical treatment of what
may now be referred to as a mother's postpartum depression,
a depression caused by an hormonal imbalance after the birth of a child.
The medical treatment at the time that Charlotte
Perkins Gilman wrote this story was similar to the "rest cure" that the
narrator's husband, a doctor, prescribed for her.
Besides raising questions about those medical practices, this story questions
the position and role of women in a male dominated
Questions for Group Discussion and Journal
How is the female narrator different from her husband? What kind
of relationship do they have as husband and wife? Most probably,
the wife is suffering from postpartum depression. How does
her physician-husband (John) try to cure her? Does the wife agree
with the treatment?
The following is the treatment the author Gilman received from her doctor
when she suffered from depression. Is it similar to that of the narrator's
"Live as domestic a life as possible, Have your
child with you all the time. Lie down an hour after each meal.
Have but two hours intellectual life a day. And never touch pen,
brush or pencil as long as you live." (from
I Wrote "The Yellow Wallpaper"?)
The story is highly symbolic, and its development is in the changes
in the woman's attitudes toward the other people and in her views about
the yellow wallpaper. Can you describe this process? For instance,
how does the woman feel about John at each stage (e.g. respectful, guilty,
distanced, etc.)? And how does she feels about the wallpaper--like?
dislike? and what does it represent for her? (Read carefully the
changes in the descriptions of the wallpaper)
Considering the unequal relationship between the husband and the
wife, what can the wallpaper, the creeping woman and the narrator's madness
be symbolic of?
The movie presents ONE interpretation of the short story. How does
the movie version differ from the story? Please
"Gilman was warned that
such stories were 'perilous stuff,' which should not be printed because
of the threat they posed to the relatives of such "deranged" persons as
for both teachers and students, includes useful resources, interactive
discussion, comparison between the story and its film version. The
comparison shows how different the two versions are in terms of the
woman's images, the woman's taking prescribed medicine or not, the ending,