Considering that its publication in 1892, The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, has actually generated a variety of analyses. Originally seen to be a ghost story, it has actually been regarded as gothic literature, science fiction, a declaration on postpartum anxiety, having Victorian patriarchal mindsets and a journey into the depths of mental illness. More controversial, however oddly overlooked is the subject of the rest cure’ and whether Gilman’s associations are fact or fiction. Evidence supports Charlotte Gilman may have misrepresented the Dam Mitchell Rest Remedy, and pokes more holes in The Yellow Wallpaper.
The story’s female character is suffering from “short-lived worried depression a slight hysterical( 1) propensity,” and prescribed a rest remedy. The treatment imposed absolute bed rest, forbade physical, mental or social activities and needed overall seclusion from family and friends. Ultimately the absence of stimulation and complete privacy only contributed to the desolation, and pushed her to the edge of insanity.
The Yellow Wallpaper was based upon Gilman’s personal experience with postpartum depression and treatment received by Dr.
S. Weir Mitchell, leader of the Rest Cure. The parallels between her experiences and those of the story are obvious, as are ramifications of late nineteenth-century patriarchal and medical mindsets towards ladies, during that time.
As a fictional story, and absolutely nothing else, The Yellow Wallpaper illustrates a postpartum woman driven to psychosis by an inefficient medical professional who is likewise her partner. However, as a fictional autobiography, it reads as an “indictment of the nineteenth-century medical occupation and its patriarchal attitudes.” After the 1973 reissue of The Yellow Wallpaper, Gilman straight criticizes Mitchell’s treatment, saying, “the real function of the story was to reach Dr. S Dam Mitchell, and encourage him of the error of his ways.” She claimed his rest remedy brought her “perilously close to losing [her] mind.”
Mitchell’s “mistakes” by numerous accounts, far exceed his medical treatments alone. A tenacious male-chauvinist, by today’s requirements, he was vehemently opposed to ladies voting, and strongly against higher education. He felt it obstructed of being great wives and moms, saying “there had better be none of it.” Women’s “finest nobleness” according to Mitchell, was “to be homeful for others.”