This may be a short story but it is a disquieting one to say the least. Based upon the author’s experience in the late 1800’s when diagnosed by a physician of a nervous disease she was prescribed ‘rest cure’ which meant that she was to stay in bed all day and only allowed mental stimulation for two hours a day… this led to a near total mental decline.
The story features a young woman who has a baby, although he or she, is kept well ‘off-page’ as the subject who has moved into an old house with a creepy feel to it as she lies in a room with yellow peeling wallpaper.
The journal entries written by the woman in the bed, written in secret to hide them from her physician husband, who has diagnosed her with a nervous disease and banned her from leaving the house or having any mental stimulation.
Alone in the room the woman sees first patterns and then more disturbing things in the yellow on the wall which mirror the stretching and then the breaking of her mind although the ending is cleverly left open to interpretation.
The author wrote the story to warn others against rest cures but it has come to be viewed as one of the earliest examples of feminist writing and I can’t disagree. Somehow you can’t imagine a healthy man struggling with a new role in life being told to go to his room until he felt better!!
This is one of those stories that make me truly grateful that I was born when I was!