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Reading Analytically

Sample 2

Now read Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s brief explanation of why she wrote “The Yellow Wallpaper”

photo of author

Charlotte Perkins Gilman circa 1904

This brief letter was meant to address the many inquiries that Gilman received about her story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” This letter is meant to explain that although she added little “embellishments and additions”, it remains a fully viable account of a woman who fell into madness because of unsound medical advice. Within, she details her nervous breakdowns. She also provides details of the lifestyle she was told to lead in order to keep her nerves at bay: she was given advice to “‘live as domestic a life as far as possible,’ to ‘have but two hours’ intellectual life a day,’ and ‘never to touch pen, brush, or pencil again’ as long as I lived.” Of course, this didn’t work. Just as “The Yellow Wallpaper” is helpful in providing an in depth look at someone experiencing such a treatment, Gilman’s letter is useful in that it was written in a place where she had fully recovered due to not taking her physician’s advice. She also notes that a different a physician read her book, and since had ceased prescribing “rest cures.”

“Why I Wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’” 1913. Archived at The College of Staten Island, City University of New York, 8 June 1999, https://csivc.csi.cuny.edu/history/files/lavender/whyyw.html.

 

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Expression and Inquiry by Chris Manning, Sally Pierce, and Melissa Lucken is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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