"Life Influences in the Writing of The Yellow Wallpaper " One of the most influential feminist writers of the late nineteenth century is Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Her writings deal primarily with ideas concerning the suppression of women by men and opposition to the conventional views on marriage and a woman's life in the home. The Yellow Wallpaper depicts a woman who becomes increasingly insane as a result of the control taken over her by her husband and doctor and the story is undoubtedly influenced by Gilman's experiences in childhood and in her marriage. The imagery inThe Yellow Wallpaper may be paralleled with the same suppression Gilman experiences in life. For example, the narrator describes the women she sees in the wallpaper: "They get through, and then the pattern strangles them off and turns them upside down, and makes their eyes white" (Gilman, 1580) Perhaps this may be paralleled with the narrator as well as Gilman's experience with depression and the treatment prescribed. This treatment included not writing.
In the story, the narrator finds solace in her imagination, seeing people out in the garden, and wanting to write. However, the males in the narrator's life and in Gilman's life try to suppress this behaviour, ultimately driving the female insane. The males in the story as well as in Gilman's life see removing all intellectual and emotional stimulation as a cure to the female's illness, when actually all they are doing is harm. Perhaps the woman " [getting] through", symbolizes imagination or intellectual stimulus and the pattern is male suppression which "strangles... and turns [women] upside down". Gilman experiences the same suppression as the female character in The Yellow Wallpaper in terms of her not being allowed to write or chat with friends while she is ill. In The Madwoman in the Attic, Gilbert and Gubar mention that "The 'ring and things' " in the nursery are really the paraphernalia of confinement, like the gate at the head of the stairs, instruments that definitively indicate her imprisonment" (Gilbert & Gubar 90).
The example of the rings as well as the room itself further supports the idea of suppression of the female character. As mentioned earlier, Gilman's writings deal primarily with the suppression of women. Although Gilman experienced as a child many restrictions imposed by her mother, the absence of her father while growing up, and the disappointment with not having freedom to grow as a person while married, had a tremendous influence on her writings. The Yellow Wallpaper parallels Gilman's life experiences closely and at the same time give us a look at the problems she faced as a female in the nineteenth century. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper.
In The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Shorter Fourth Edition. W.W. Norton & Co. : New York, NY. 1995. Gilbert, Sandra & Gubar, Susan.
The Madwoman in the Attic. Yale University Press: New Haven & London. 1984.