In a way to get me ready for fall and of course, Halloween, I wanted to find something that would reflect my mood and I thought my favorite thrillers. Now, I am not a very big fan of horror despite my love for vampires, witches and werewolves, but I do enjoy a good psychological thriller here and there.
I thought it was Victoria Helen Stone’s Jane Doe that got me interested in this genre, but then I started to remember when I was in high school, and I took two separate classes for each semester and the first was Novels where my interest in the genre was tested as we read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Helter Skelter by Curt Gentry and Vincent Bugliosi. However, it wasn’t until I went into Short Stories that I was introduced to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s classic The Yellow Wall–Paper and this really made me realize that this was only the beginning.
A woman and her husband rent a summer house, but what should be a restful getaway turns into a suffocating psychological battle. This chilling account of postpartum depression and a husband’s controlling behavior in the guise of treatment will leave you breathless.
taken from Goodreads.
When I finally decided that I would re-read this story, I did it for a specfic reasons: I didn’t exactly remember how it ended, all I could figure out was that it creeped me out. Fast forward, I wasn’t wrong with my initial rememberance but things that wouldn’t make sense to me at that time of the first read; I knew of very little history about how women were treated in that timeframe, so by the time I had went back to it, I had the knowledge to back everything up in my brain.
Our main character Jane is forced to stay indoors and recover from a fit of “nervousness” as she calls it, and if the word “baby” didn’t turn up in a sentence later, we wouldn’t know it’s actually name as we call it postpartum depression. For her and other women of that time, it had another name completely “hysteria” and it wasn’t the best diagnosis for a woman as there is evidence (and lots of it!) towards how husbands, sons, brothers, and doctors put various women and girls in asylums for their overwhelming feelings in the 19th Century.
“It is the strangest yellow, that wallpaper! It makes me think of all the yellow things I ever saw – not beautiful ones like buttercups, but old foul, bad yellow things.”
Jane is unique though as her husband is a physician and he seems to love her enough, to support her in this condition at home. So, she is forced to recover in the master bedroom of their rental mansion, where it has decaying yellow wallpaper everywhere. Jane absolutely hates it. I understand her frustrations about it though, as I had purchased a pillow and sheet set that showed the color yellow to be as bright as the sun, but then we unwrapped it and found that the pillowcase fits the description to a T, but the sheet itself does not. It is so light that if nobody knew I had a brown mattress underneath, they certainly would as soon as they walked into my room… Anywho, like one does when they cannot explore freely, Jane starts to notice various things like the odd patterns and the disturbing figure that seems to appear at night.
Despite its small size, it definitely packs a punch worthy of a regular novel. I mean, as much as I love Frankenstein, my drive towards this book was stronger, and that’s saying something!
For anyone out there who is not too interested in horror, I highly suggest giving this story a shot before the end of the month. Although, if you feel comfortable waiting until after the Halloween festivities then by all means wait it out, but trust me when I say, you may end up enjoying it more than you think and want more like it afterwards, so as a nice warning, be sure to prepare yourselves!
Have you read Charlotte’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper” before? If your answer is yes, how did you come across it? I’d also like to know what you thought about it the first time you read it. Please tell me everything in the comments below!