the yellow wallpaper short story cover
Short stories

Mental Health and Self-Agency: Themes In ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a short story about a woman’s descent into madness because her doctor husband downplays her mental illness. The story is also an ideal illustration of the 19th century society’s view of mental illness, and clear criticism of the rest cure that was often administered to patients with mental illness.

From a feminist literature perspective, Gilman shows how the lack of self-agency that characterized a woman’s life during the Victorian era was harmful. This literary analysis essay explores mental health and agency as the main themes in Charlotte Perkins’ The Yellow paper and how they intersect to create an ending that can be viewed as mental breakdown and mental freedom at the same time. 

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