Literary Interpretation of "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Gilman.
"I did not intend to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy- said Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author or "The Yellow Wallpaper." Indeed this story could very easily drive one crazy. However, like Ms. Gilman stated, I don't believe that was her goal in writing this story. .
"The Yellow Wallpaper" is constructed on a couple of different dimensions, each of which needs to be distinguished to fully understand this story's real meaning. At one level, the story is a horror story; a clinical account of the slow deterioration of a white female into madness. At the same time, the story directly confronts the sexual politics of male/female and husband/wife relationships specific to Ms. Gilman's social setting. .
Scholars and critics have often noted the striking parallels between the experiences of Ms. Gilman and those of the narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper" (including a cameo appearance by Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, the physician who treated Gilman for nervous prostration in 1887). As noted in "Great Short Stories by American Women" by Candace Ward, Ms. Gilman, after delivering her first child, went into postpartum depression. Her husband encouraged her to see a Dr. Mitchell, who was a very reputable physician at the time. He basically prescribed a life of complete solitude from EVERYONE, much like the narrator in this story. On one level you have an angry writer possible trying to get back at Dr. Mitchell somehow. Ms. Gilman is trying to get the word out that certain methods only make things worse. She does this by publishing a semi autobiographical account of the disastrous effects of "Mitchell's Cure," known as "The Yellow Wallpaper.".
The autobiographical roots of the story make up only one dimension, however. John's (the narrator's husband) well-meant but misguided efforts to enforce Dr. Mitchell's gospel of rest are directly related to the narrator's descent into madness.