Book Review – The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

First published, 1892

The story itself ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

However, this edition ⭐ ⭐

Now, you’re going to have to bear with me because this story is going to get two ratings. I know. That’s just not normal, but I promise, it’s necessary.

This story is a classic. Often referred to as a feminist short story, I would prefer to have it labelled vital and to be read by all. The narrative follows a lady who, while suffering from hysteria (an almost pathologically over-diagnosed condition at the time of the book’s publication, hysteria was a catch-all term covering everything from women’s problems, depression, nymphomania, frigidity, and everything in between), has been confined to her room. Her husband, a physician, doesn’t like her to get overexcited and so, does not allow her to write, and so she keeps her journal in secret. And that is what we’re reading.

With little to do but observe her surroundings, the lady notices an unsettling pattern in the yellow wallpaper. With the changing of the light from day to night, she begins to see what appear to be women, trapped in the wallpaper, desperately seeking escape.

And the ending is phenomenal; haunting and powerful and the kind of conclusion that stays with the reader for years and years. Which is a bit of luck because, in this edition – the last chapter is missing! This story needs chapter eleven, and so does the reader.

The story itself is five stars, all day long. This version, as it’s incomplete, only deserves two. Heartbreaking.