The Book Nook

Although this column is called “The Book Nook”, I am writing about an essay I have discovered in my women writers class the past week. This essay totally blew my mind because of all the interpretations that can become of it. This has become probably my favorite essay. Everyone should read it and see what interpretation they can come up with!

This essay is about a woman who is put on the “rest cure” in the late 1800’s. The rest cure is something that was thought up by Silas Weir Mitchell. This “cure” helped women that were going through anxiety to depression disorders. The woman is supposed to, in short, do absolutely nothing. Not lift a finger without assistance. They are generally put in a room, in a bed, and sleep or “rest”. They are also not supposed do anything that involves any type of intellect (reading, writing, etc). This being said, the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is being treated with this “rest cure”.

The speaker of this essay is writing in secret since she is not supposed to be doing anything that involves intellect. In her secret writings, she says how she absolutely despises the yellow wallpaper of this room she was put in. She even see’s a woman “in the wallpaper” and “behind bars”. The speaker is determined to get this woman out by herself, so she keeps these discoveries from her husband. Did I mention this is supposedly in a house in the middle of nowhere? The bed is also nailed down to the floor and there are rings in the walls. Doesn’t really sound like a nice vacation home, sounds more like an asylum. But this is for you to interpret. I don’t want to give too much away for future readers, but lets just say that it doesn’t end too happily, more like disturbing.

I love this essay and everything it stands for. Although creepy, it has a bigger message to how women were treated in the late 1800’s. Anything wrong with a woman (anxiety, depression, etc) was considered to be hysteria. Women weren’t in their right mind so men took it upon themselves to have them committed or take part in the rest cure. What this short story shows us is that it drove these women mad. Can you imagine not lifting a finger? Not being able to do the things you love? But somehow this was the answer to becoming “sane” again. Gilman says in the last line of the “Why I Wrote the Yellow Wallpaper?” “It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked.” It definitely worked! While reading this, it might have made me a little crazy, but after analyzing it, it has an important meaning. Everyone who reads this will come out with a different scenario and I think that’s what Gilman intended on doing. Everyone should check it out!