Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Yellow Wallpaper


 
 
'If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendancy - what is one to do?'

I've started reading short stories.  It's amazing, when they're done well, they can be so powerful and explosive in so few pages.  You are in these character's lives for such a short period of time.  This is one of my favourite short stories which I have come across, I'm currently making my way through 'The Oxford Book of American Short Stories' there's a wonderfully diverse selection, if you're so inclined!
 
'The Yellow Wallpaper' is told from the point of view of a woman whose husband has confined her to the upstairs room of a rented summer house.  Published in 1892, it is considered an important piece of feminist writing highlighting attitudes towards women's mental health issues.  The room they've rented is covered in lurid wallpaper, faded by strong sunlight, and peeling off in some places.  

The wallpaper starts to take on a life of its own; as the wife struggles to overcome her hatred of it, her husbands insistance that everything is fine and she will recover by the end of the summer.  She starts to write in secret, her hopes and fears, her confusions and daydreams about her surroundings.  You only have her point of view, you don't understand her husbands thoughts and feelings, you don't even know if she's that reliable at telling a truthful account of the events as they unfold.  There's so much that you don't know that leaves you wanting so much more.  You become involved with these characters so quickly and want to know their backstory.

The best thing about short stories is how involved you become in such a short space of time.  Perfect for a train journey; I do wonder why we've become a nation obsessed with novels! Short stories are a tad underrated, so this is my unashamed propaganda! Read more short stories!
 
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6 comments

Emily said...

The Yellow Wallpaper is amazing. Great post.

Alice said...

I love good short story. The Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe is my favourite, so chilling, it is amazing.

loveliveandlearn said...

I love The Yellow Wallpaper, it's definitely one of the best out there. It's so twisted and it really sucks you in with it's narrative. I love short stories, as you say they're definitely majorly underrated!

mi said...

i'm definitely going to read this, thanks for the recommendation! and for the general reminder about short stories, they do fall by the wayside a bit and they can be amazing x

Unpublished Life said...

I am a lover (and writer) of short stories - I always joke it's because I don't have the attention span and stamina to write a novel!

But, I love the idea of being part of characters' lives for a moment in time. It's like walking past a window and looking in. Short stories are so powerful. I will definitely be on the lookout for this one!

http://unpublishedworksofme.blogspot.com/

Joana Afonseca said...

Oh I just read this short story for my class and I loved it. Very brainy and tenacious women she was :)

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