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The Yellow Wallpaper Summary

by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

❶There comes John's sister. It feels as if someone has just written it.

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I've read her nonfiction 'Women and Economics'--very forward-thinking re: None is as famous as "The Yellow Wallpaper," however. What's great about this story is that I've found it reprinted in horror anthologies, women's fiction anthologies, college readers, texts on madness It's a masterful example of an unreliable narrator and a woman's descent into madness.

Don't want to spoil it by saying any more, if you haven't already read this great short story. View all 9 comments. Apr 24, J. The Yellow Wallpaper is a short but powerful masterpiece in which Charlotte Perkins Gilman offers insight into oppression and madness. It remains despite being written in as relevant as it is haunting. Liberation from his and society's oppression of women is only available in this internal struggle which ultimately leads to a mental breakdow The Yellow Wallpaper is a short but powerful masterpiece in which Charlotte Perkins Gilman offers insight into oppression and madness.

Liberation from his and society's oppression of women is only available in this internal struggle which ultimately leads to a mental breakdown and loss of identity. View all 3 comments. The Yellow Wallpaper is a short novella from , which has become a classic of the genre. It is a claustrophobic depiction of what would then be described as a woman's descent into madness, but now sounds more like severe post-natal depression.

The story consists of passages from a secret journal, kept by the woman, Jane, who is losing her grip on reality. The narrator is confined to the upstairs bedroom of a house by her doctor husband, John, who diagnoses a "temporary nervous depression - a The Yellow Wallpaper is a short novella from , which has become a classic of the genre.

The narrator is confined to the upstairs bedroom of a house by her doctor husband, John, who diagnoses a "temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency -". The windows of the room are barred, and there is a gate across the top of the stairs so that she has limited access to the rest of the house. She is also forbidden from working by her husband, whom she claims to comply with because he is a doctor. It is not difficult to see how these constraints would exacerbate any tendency to depression!

This story depicts the prevailing attitudes in the 19th century toward women, in particular their physical and mental health, promoting the view that they should live and be defined entirely by domestic considerations. Jane's husband is kindly and insufferably paternalistic, ""Bless her little heart! Charlotte Perkins Gilman was an author, philosopher, socialist and feminist. Her stories both analyse and criticise the role of women in society, at a time when men were very much dominant.

The contemporary view is that such women were oppressed by their position in a patriarchal society. In several of her later stories Gilman deals with a male-dominated medical establishment attempting to silence its women patients.

In this one the narrator expresses the views that she should work instead of rest, and that she should go out in society more, instead of remaining isolated. She also thinks that she should not be separated and "protected" from her child, but should be able to see her child and allowed to be a mother.

This is a modern perspective, and very much ahead of its time. True to the current conventions of behaviour though, Jane is silent, powerless, and passive, accepting her doctor-husband's authority in all things.

It was stated by a medical journal of the time, that a physician must "assume a tone of authority" and that the idea of a "cured" woman was one who became "subdued, docile, silent, and above all subject to the will and voice of the physician. This makes for a very unsettling read. One interpretation could be that since she has been forbidden to read or write, the given medical reason being that her "hysteria" needs "rest", she then starts to "read" the wallpaper, and feels increasingly trapped behind it.

She first describes the wallpaper saying, "the colour is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight.

At night she is able to see a woman behind bars, trapped within its complicated design. The ending is ambiguous, depending on how the reader has interpreted the story. Does she slip into irrevocable psychosis? Does she murder her husband? Clearly though, this story is about disempowering women, even to the point of forbidding the tools for writing, in case "Jane" manages to express her own identity in that way.

The bars and trapped woman are originally symbolic of the narrator's own confinement, but eventually she becomes subsumed in the many images of women that she sees.

The Yellow Wallpaper originated in Gilman's own experience, when she suffered from depression, and was ordered to lead a similar life to that of the narrator of this story. An eminent specialist prescribed a rest cure, recommending her to live a domestic a life as possible. She was only allowed two hours of mental stimulation a day, and writing materials were banned. She followed this directive for three months, becoming increasingly desperate. Eventually she felt herself slipping into a worse mental state, so rebelled and wrote The Yellow Wallpaper as a sort of therapy for herself, as well as alerting the public to what she considered a seriously misguided form of treatment.

She said the story was, "not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked. Aug 18, Elyse rated it it was ok. I debated about saying anything Many of my favorite people love this book.

I thought this 99 cent book was odd Plus, right from the start -- I felt like I was reading a laundry list-- I was being talked 'at'. I found it irritating. This is actually one of those books I wish I didn't read. I didn't like how I felt --and I don't think the book was 'that' worthy that I needed to feel so yucky after. Read other reviews I debated about saying anything Read other reviews --or just spend the 99 cents to discover for yourself-- most readers appreciated this book!!! My comments are simply based on my feelings and reaction.

View all 18 comments. Mar 13, Greta rated it it was amazing Shelves: Clever, eerie little story, which I highly recommend to anyone who thinks that depending on a caring spouse is all you need to be happy.

Sometimes it's not, and it even can be harmful ; especially if your wallpaper happens to be yellow. View all 21 comments. Jun 16, Bradley rated it it was amazing Recommends it for: Everyone with a desire to understand how they're trapped by life. I was reminded of this little piece by a fellow reviewer and while I read it way back in college, several things still stick in my mind.

First, the prevalent psychology of Freud during the time-period: This novel portrays the kind of circular thinking that could happen to anyone in that particular time and station. Any person of a protected, apparently weak, and especially underclass station could find the confines so stifling that it might break their mind. Of course, this isn't to say that ever I was reminded of this little piece by a fellow reviewer and while I read it way back in college, several things still stick in my mind.

Of course, this isn't to say that every woman had it this bad, or that they had weak minds. I'm just saying that Freud pointed out something that was happening during this time-period and all of a sudden he gets catapulted into prominence for stating the blinding obvious.

Going crazy was an escape. This led to the arrival of hoards of writers, revolutionaries, men and women of all walks of life all deciding that they'd show how much they weren't influenced by Freud. There was the huge push to make things equal between the sexes.

Hell, I think that part was very healthy. Gilman was a perfect revolutionary. She showed us how insane a person could get being put into that society, under those social rules and regulations, and even made her character sympathetic. This is one of those works where it is so much more satisfying to read when we understand where it came from. It's even worse when we understand that this was pretty much a regular part of the times. And then, there's Oscar Wilde. He had a speech on his deathbed perhaps apocryphal , where he saw the ugly purple wallpaper on the wall next to his deathbed and made a pronouncement, "Either this wallpaper goes, or I go!

Was this a commentary? Perhaps it was a slight twist and turn in medium, a hidden knife, a big idea slammed by wit.

But then, I'm only a man, but I'm proud to say that this story sent me on a long kick of feminism literature back in college. I'm sorry to see that the whole subject is so out of vogue. The backlash backlashed and backlashed again briefly and backlashed until I'm hella unsure where the pendulum has landed. I'm pleased to see it still lives a bit in SF and Fantasy, but but the rest of the genres seem to backsliding more often than they get it right.

I mean, what the hell is a Romance novel, except a means to pigeonhole women into a narrowly confined role and teach them to stare at the pretty wallpaper? Some YA novels feature nothing but abusive and truly creep-the-fuck-out characters. Where the hell is the lost ideal of equality between the sexes?

All I see these days is frustrated sexual fantasies that rely more on power plays than love. Someone, please let me know where I can get some relief! Anyway, I always liked this story, and it allowed me to flex my imagination and enjoy the surrealism of the literature of the day in a way a little more accessible than others of the type that I just couldn't get into as much. It was still a mindfuq, and put into perspective, I think the novelette gave a great deal of meaning to women.

People's perceptions of themselves change over time, obviously, reacting to past mistakes, past preconceptions, but as a cross-gender analysis, I have to say that no one is completely free of the wallpaper. Anyone can be caught up in their social roles.

I know I've felt as trapped as our crazy protagonist. It's not just women who have needed to gain a measure of self-awareness. We all need to say, "Enough is Enough, Already!

View all 19 comments. Jan 03, Lynn rated it it was amazing Shelves: I typed the title into the search just to see if it would come up. I had no idea that this was a classic work. I never could recall the author's name, but from the reviews, I can see that I am not alone in how it still sits with me decades later.

I was only 13 or 14 years old when I sat in on my aunt's college literature class. I sat in the back, and the teacher gave me a black and white copy of the text so I could read along with the class.

I remember the debate raged on in the class, but we re I typed the title into the search just to see if it would come up. I remember the debate raged on in the class, but we read very little there. Later that night, while everyone was asleep, I read the whole story alone in our dark attic apartment. It wasn't that I scared easy or that I was too young for the story, it was just so intense, so real, I guess I thought it was so possible I looked at everything different from then on.

I thought anywhere could be a jail and anyone your jailer. I knew I could see patterns in the sky, in the dark, if you closed and opened your eyes rapidly, in markings on the floor, in the terrible paneling on our walls, but I would never mention this to anyone, least I never am let out again. View all 8 comments. I was stuck in traffic, so I started this audio book--and an hour later when I finally pulled in my driveway, this was me: As she slowly became more and more obsessed with the wallpaper of her vacation home, she also became less committed to writing her ideas.

It was also shockingly sad to see her fears completely dismissed by her husband, and her chosen creative outlet writing restricted from her. Overall, I see why this is a feminist staple, and loved the writing style.

It is quite short, but completely immersive and addicting. View all 6 comments. After seeing two recent reviews from two reviewers I respect and getting different perspectives with complete opposing views made me want to pick up this short novella, at 64 pages long it was not much of a stretch to fit it into my day!

I'm so glad I picked it up, it really is a peculiar story. It captures a real horror of a woman trapped by her nervous disposition as she describes her condition, you really get a real sense of dread at her fixation with the yellow wallpaper in the room where sh After seeing two recent reviews from two reviewers I respect and getting different perspectives with complete opposing views made me want to pick up this short novella, at 64 pages long it was not much of a stretch to fit it into my day!

It captures a real horror of a woman trapped by her nervous disposition as she describes her condition, you really get a real sense of dread at her fixation with the yellow wallpaper in the room where she is recovering from some sort of depressive episode. This was really quite an inventive way to display and portray a woman's descent into madness.

I'm glad this was a short story as I felt the power of this wallpaper taking hold! What a wonderful story and that ending!!

View all 15 comments. What is so striking about this story is its narrative voice. It feels as if someone has just written it. As a reader, I am so impressed by this quality; the world created more than a century ago still resonates with me, it still appears fresh and familiar.

The young patient and her physician husband John are like any other present-day upper middle-class couple. When we see them, we know them. On the surface, this couple looks happy and satisfied, but as the story unfolds we know more about their What is so striking about this story is its narrative voice.

On the surface, this couple looks happy and satisfied, but as the story unfolds we know more about their relationship. Even though John seems caring and concerned toward his wife; something is queer about his care. His wife feels being reduced to her severe nervous depression, her medical condition.

She is only her disease, the rest of her is ignored. The good husband always tells her what she should do and what not. For instance, she loves writing journals, but she is forbidden to do so. She waits for him to leave the house so that she can write. John's sister Jennie also comes to stay with them and help them. So everyone around her in the name of love and care restricts her; she does not matter much but her cancer does. The disease takes over the person.

Her husband John shows his affection and love in every possible way, but he does not really listen to her. Throughout the story, she tells herself how good and loving John is. Her disease, the well regulated mundane interest of her husband make her emotionally more aloof and damaged. She is drawn to the yellow wallpaper on the wall of her airy bedroom. This yellow wallpaper absorbs her completely; by its unique, sprawling flamboyant patterns.

She talks and engages with the wallpaper, especially, because everyone around her has things to do. She becomes more and more consumed by these ever mobile, hideous patterns on the yellow wallpaper. At times, she gives a hint of what bothers her apart from her bodily pain, it is her husband's lack of concern, his true presence.

He stays away from her due to his work, and sometimes for days on end. Even when they share the same bed, he is oblivious to what is happening inside her. John and his sister also take a strange turn in her mind.

She imagines weird, incestuous things in regard to John and his sister. She spies on them, and at one point she even has a minor tiff with Jennie. These layered responses to her disease, possibly cancer though this is not mentioned in the story, intersect with deeper issues of love and human relationships. A story on how some well-meant intentions can have the worst possible consequences. What I didn't like here was the too sinuous structure of the plot - we see a lot of raving, some fantasies and a bit of reflection of real life.

The film is set in a post-apocalyptic world in which civilisation has crumbled. A massive electromagnetic pulse has killed all children on the planet with the exception of Molly Billie Rutherford , the daughter of Jake Slater Jake Ryan. When a party bus on its way to Burning Man filled with a bunch of sexy young adults breaks down in the desert and in the middle of a group of Satanic worshipers, all hell breaks loose. Roger, a Rasputin-like drifter, is in search of the ultimate indie-rock band, The Transcendents.

What he finds is less than transcendent: A university research scientist, about to lose funding and status, has a lab accident and discovers he can see people's true intentions -- making his situation even worse. A group of hikers lost on the Appalachian Trail stumble across an ancient secret that threatens their survival.

A young graduate student is tormented by a stalker who hacks into her electronic devices and monitors her every move. A genetics professor clones his dead wife, over and over, in a desperate attempt to get her back exactly as she was. After a devastating fire, Charlotte and John rent a countryside house and attempt to start life over, though Charlotte, upon seeing visions of her deceased daughter, retreats to the house's attic and pulls away from her husband and sister.

Written by Max Visconti. This is a film which honors patience. It is not for those who need action-packed adrenaline stoking from beginning to end. This is a film for those who appreciate the slow build up to terror of a classic Gothic ghost story. The characters speak slowly in careful Victorian, but Midwestern American, English as the year is The camera reveals scenes with a languid, sensuality.

Yet, there is a discomforting eerie quality that builds as the film progresses. Most of the scenes are outside or within a year old haunted house. A few sequences are of a bleak landscape separating the house from town. The sound track has a threatening undertone. John encounters a rat-killing couple on a bicycle ride into town. The encounter is the first of increasingly bizarre experiences that John, his wife, and sister-in-law, Jennifer have, after renting the house with yellow wallpaper.

Suspense builds, like waves, each reaching a bit higher, and the viewer's tension notches up. The film is wonderfully atmospheric and full of symbolic allusion e. The stark Victorian mansion, at first, seems to offer a comforting respite for the grief-stricken family.

John and Charlotte have lost their daughter in a fire that consumed their previous house. True to its Gothic literary antecedent, however, the house's hidden terrors slowly enrapture and capture its occupants. The descent into terror and madness is a slow but steady incline, not a dash from a spring board.

John, a medical doctor, demands that the family maintain its rational, civilized understanding of reality and thus seek understanding of the inexplicable events that begin to occur after moving into the house.

Charlotte embraces the irrational-supernatural aura of the house as a means to reconnect with their deceased daughter. Jennifer, the pragmatist, brings in a "ghost-buster" from back east. I think it is due to this nervous condition. But John says if I feel so, I shall neglect proper self-control; so I take pains to control myself - before him, at least, and that makes me very tired.

I don't like our room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that opened on the piazza and had roses all over the window, and such pretty old-fashioned chintz hangings! He said there was only one window and not room for two beds, and no near room for him if he took another.

He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction. I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all care from me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more. He said we came here solely on my account, that I was to have perfect rest and all the air I could get.

It is a big, airy room, the whole floor nearly, with windows that look all ways, and air and sunshine galore. It was nursery first and then playroom and gymnasium, I should judge; for the windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls. The paint and paper look as if a boys' school had used it. It is stripped off - the paper in great patches all around the head of my bed, about as far as I can reach, and in a great place on the other side of the room low down.

I never saw a worse paper in my life. One a those sprawling flamboyant patterns committing every artistic sin. It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little distance they suddenly commit suicide - plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unheard of contradictions. The color is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight.

It is a dull yet lurid orange in some places, a sickly sulphur tint in others. No wonder the children hated it! I should hate it myself if I had to live in this room long. There comes John, and I must put this away - he hates to have me write a word. I am sitting by the window now, up in this atrocious nursery, and there is nothing to hinder my writing as much as I please, save lack of strength. John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious. John does not know how much I really suffer.

He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him. Of course it is only nervousness. It does weigh on me so not to do my duty in any way! I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative burden already! Nobody would believe what an effort it is to do what little I am able - to dress and entertain, and order things. I suppose John never was nervous in his life. He laughs at me so about this wall-paper! At first he meant to repaper the room, but afterwards he said that I was letting it get the better of me, and that nothing was worse for a nervous patient than to give way to such fancies.

He said that after the wall-paper was changed it would be the heavy bedstead, and then the barred windows, and then that gate at the head of the stairs, and so on. Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said he would go down to the cellar, if I wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain.

It is an airy and comfortable room as any one need wish, and, of course, I would not be so silly as to make him uncomfortable just for a whim. I'm really getting quite fond of the big room, all but that horrid paper.

Out of one window I can see the garden, those mysterious deepshaded arbors, the riotous old-fashioned flowers, and bushes and gnarly trees. Out of another I get a lovely view of the bay and a little private wharf belonging to the estate. There is a beautiful shaded lane that runs down there from the house. I always fancy I see people walking in these numerous paths and arbors, but John has cautioned me not to give way to fancy in the least.

He says that with my imaginative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies, and that I ought to use my will and good sense to check the tendency.

I think sometimes that if I were only well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas and rest me. It is so discouraging not to have any advice and companionship about my work. When I get really well, John says we will ask Cousin Henry and Julia down for a long visit; but he says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillow-case as to let me have those stimulating people about now.

But I must not think about that. This paper looks to me as if it knew what a vicious influence it had! There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two bulbous eyes stare at you upside down.

I get positively angry with the impertinence of it and the everlastingness. Up and down and sideways they crawl, and those absurd, unblinking eyes are everywhere There is one place where two breaths didn't match, and the eyes go all up and down the line, one a little higher than the other.

I never saw so much expression in an inanimate thing before, and we all know how much expression they have! I used to lie awake as a child and get more entertainment and terror out of blank walls and plain furniture than most children could find in a toy-store. I remember what a kindly wink the knobs of our big, old bureau used to have, and there was one chair that always seemed like a strong friend. I used to feel that if any of the other things looked too fierce I could always hop into that chair and be safe.

The furniture in this room is no worse than inharmonious, however, for we had to bring it all from downstairs. I suppose when this was used as a playroom they had to take the nursery things out, and no wonder!

I never saw such ravages as the children have made here. The wall-paper, as I said before, is torn off in spots, and it sticketh closer than a brother - they must have had perseverance as well as hatred. Then the floor is scratched and gouged and splintered, the plaster itself is dug out here and there, and this great heavy bed which is all we found in the room, looks as if it had been through the wars.

There comes John's sister. Such a dear girl as she is, and so careful of me! I must not let her find me writing. She is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hopes for no better profession. I verily believe she thinks it is the writing which made me sick! But I can write when she is out, and see her a long way off from these windows. There is one that commands the road, a lovely shaded winding road, and one that just looks off over the country. A lovely country, too, full of great elms and velvet meadows.

This wall-paper has a kind of sub-pattern in a, different shade, a particularly irritating one, for you can only see it in certain lights, and not clearly then.

But in the places where it isn't faded and where the sun is just so - I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure, that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design. Well, the Fourth of July is over! The people are all gone and I am tired out. John thought it might do me good to see a little company, so we just had mother and Nellie and the children down for a week.

John says if I don't pick up faster he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall. But I don't want to go there at all. I had a friend who was in his hands once, and she says he is just like John and my brother, only more so! I don't feel as if it was worth while to turn my hand over for anything, and I'm getting dreadfully fretful and querulous.

Of course I don't when John is here, or anybody else, but when I am alone. And I am alone a good deal just now. John is kept in town very often by serious cases, and Jennie is good and lets me alone when I want her to.

So I walk a little in the garden or down that lovely lane, sit on the porch under the roses, and lie down up here a good deal. I'm getting really fond of the room in spite of the wall-paper. Perhaps because of the wall-paper. I lie here on this great immovable bed - it is nailed down, I believe - and follow that pattern about by the hour.

It is as good as gymnastics, I assure you. I start, we'll say, at the bottom, down in the corner over there where it has not been touched, and I determine for the thousandth time that I will follow that pointless pattern to some sort of a conclusion. I know a little of the principle of design, and I know this thing was not arranged on any laws of radiation, or alternation, or repetition, or symmetry, or anything else that I ever heard of.

Looked at in one way each breadth stands alone, the bloated curves and flourishes - a kind of "debased Romanesque" with delirium tremens - go waddling up and down in isolated columns of fatuity. But, on the other hand, they connect diagonally, and the sprawling outlines run off in great slanting waves of optic horror, like a lot of wallowing seaweeds in full chase. The whole thing goes horizontally, too, at least it seems so, and I exhaust myself in trying to distinguish the order of its going in that direction.

They have used a horizontal breadth for a frieze, and that adds wonderfully to the confusion. There is one end of the room where it is almost intact, and there, when the crosslights fade and the low sun shines directly upon it, I can almost fancy radiation after all - the interminable grotesques seem to form around a common center and rush off in headlong plunges of equal distraction. I don't feel able. And I know John would think it absurd. But I must say what I feel and think in some way - it is such a relief!

Half the time now I am awfully lazy, and lie down ever so much. John says I mustn't lose my strength, and has me take cod liver oil and lots of tonics and things, to say nothing of ale and wine and rare meat. He loves me very dearly, and hates to have me sick. I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him the other day, and tell him how I wish he would let me go and make a visit to Cousin Henry and Julia.

But he said I wasn't able to go, nor able to stand it after I got there; and I did not make out a very good case for myself, for I was crying before I had finished. It is getting to be a great effort for me to think straight. Just this nervous weakness I suppose.

And dear John gathered me up in his arms, and just carried me upstairs and laid me on the bed, and sat by me and read to me till it tired my head. He said I was his darling and his comfort and all he had, and that I must take care of myself for his sake, and keep well. He says no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with me. There's one comfort, the baby is well and happy, and does not have to occupy this nursery with the horrid wall-paper.

If we had not used it, that blessed child would have! What a fortunate escape! Why, I wouldn't have a child of mine, an impressionable little thing, live in such a room for worlds. I never thought of it before, but it is lucky that John kept me here after all, I can stand it so much easier than a baby, you see. Of course I never mention it to them any more - I am too wise, - but I keep watch of it all the same.

There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will. Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day. And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about behind that pattern. I don't like it a bit. I wonder - I begin to think - I wish John would take me away from here! It is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so wise, and because he loves me so. The moon shines in all around just as the sun does.

I hate to see it sometimes, it creeps so slowly, and always comes in by one window or another. John was asleep and I hated to waken him, so I kept still and watched the moonlight on that undulating wall-paper till I felt creepy. The faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out.

What Happens in The Yellow Wallpaper?

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The color is repellant, almost revolt­ ing ; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sun­ light. It is a dull yet lurid orange in some.

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“The Yellow Wallpaper” is an exaggerated account of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s personal experiences. In , shortly after the birth of her daughter, Gilman began to suffer from serious depression and fatigue. She was referred to Silas Weir Mitchell, a leading specialist in women’s nervous. Complete summary of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Yellow Wallpaper.