The Story Behind "The Yellow Wallpaper".
"The Yellow Wallpaper" is a vivid, autobiographical short story of clinical depression and the struggle for selfhood, written by an early feminist, Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Gilman, a new mother, has been brought to a country house by her husband-physician for a "rest cure treatment" for her nervous condition. At the country house, she is isolated from everything and treated like a child. Not only did her "rest cure treatment" not help her, but also it actually made it worse. Gilman writes "The Yellow Wallpaper" in hopes of showing S. Weir Mitchell the error in his ways. .
One of the main reasons that Gilman's health never improves is because of the atmosphere that she is in. First of all, the country house is three miles away from the actual town. Outside the house there used to be greenhouses, but now they are all broken and the gates to enter the house all have locks on them. The room that Gilman stays in is an old nursery. In the room, the "windows are barred for little children", the bed has been nailed to the floor, and the yellow wallpaper, that Gilman absolutely despises, has been stripped off in many places. .
Gilman's husband also refuses her to have any contact with the outside world. "When I really get well, John says we will ask Cousin Henry and Julia down for a long visit; but he says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillowcase as to let me have those stimulating people about now." He forbids her to work until she gets better. He refers to her as "little girl". She isn't allowed to be around or take care of her son; they have a nanny come and take care of the baby. Gilman tells the story by means of a journal, which she has to keep secretly against the orders of her physician-husband. She is forbidden to write and think. Because of this, Gilman becomes more increasingly dysfunctional. .
Gilman obsesses about the yellow wallpaper on the walls in her room.