The golden pen of a legendary writer (1860 – 1935)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
By Lorena StrokaThe purpose of this essay is to describe and analyze one of the short stories of the great writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It is not easy to write about a writer who has left behind her a ‘big treasure’ in the field of literature and not only. Firstly, let me start by giving you some general information about the writer’s life.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman can be considered as one of the best early feminist writer. In spite the fact, that she always refused to call herself – a ‘feminist’. Gilman supported that “her goal as a humanist was to campaign for the cause of women’s suffering”. Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born in Hartford, Connecticut. Her father Frederic Beecher Perkins was a librarian and writer (it is not difficult to understand from where she inherited the talent of writing) while her mother was called Mary. Charlotte had a difficult life, she was raised by her mother alone-her parents had separated shortly after her birth. An important position in her life had her studies, Gilman was educated briefly at the Rhode Island School of Design and worked as a commercial artist and as a drawing mistress. In 1884 she married Charles Stetson, another artist, by whom she had one daughter. Many people who knew her argue that after the birth of her daughter, Gilman went into a ” serious depression and suffered a nervous breakdown”. After this serious episode she wrote her masterpiece “The Yellow Wallpaper” a short story that loved by everyone. She divorced Stetson in 1894 and in 1900 married her cousin, George Gilman, with him she lived until his death in 1934. A year later, in 1935 Gilman passed away in a tragic way. As it seemed , fate wanted them to be together even after their death.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote over two hundred short stories and a lot of novels. Some of her selected works are:
The Crux, 1910
Moving the Mountain, 1911
Concerning Children, 1900
The man-Made World, 1911
The Yellow Wall -Paper, 1899
The Yellow Wall-Paper
“The Yellow Wall-Paper” has been considered as one of the best pieces that Gilman ever wrote. Through this short story Gilman tried to reflect a part of herself. One of the protagonists of the story was a woman called Mary. She was married with John, he was a physician. They had a daughter, who was growing up by her nanny. Mary was a woman who loved writing, but in that era writing for women was considered as not a “serious job”. For that reason, Mary couldn’t speak openly about her writing, even her husband John did not want to hear about that. John, beyond a physician he was a lovely and strict husband too. The only problem that there were between them was that of writing. Sometimes, Mary couldn’t understood her husband’s behavior in relation with her writing. John considered that his wife had to have a rest that’s for, they went to a house. The husband, John, did not want the stigma of mental illness tied to his family, because in that era it was considered as something terrible, even in now days there are a lot of people who believe the same thing “He says that no one but myself can help me out of it, that I must use my will and self-control and let any silly fancies run away with me” (Gilman, 645). The fact that Mary couldn’t write free sometimes, made her to feel not so well in spite the fact that John thought that she had no reason to suffer. John consistently treated her like a small child and not as an adult woman who was responsible for her actions. John for bided her to be herself and determinedly kept her bound to an extremely closed room, with yellow wall-paper. According to her doctor she had to avoid any form of mental stimulation like reading and writing and he recommended her a rest cure of quite and solitude. Because, she was a victim of post-delivery depression. But for a creative person like Mary it was impossible. She wanted to feel useful and free to express her feelings and thoughts through her writing. Unfortunately, all believed that she was wrong and they never understood what she really felt inside her heart. The worst thing that can happen to a person is to pretend another personality i.e. something that does not exist in reality. For that reason, Mary sometimes tried to hide her writing before John’s sister she was a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper, and hoped for no better profession. “The complete emptiness of being solitary for long periods of time is enough to drive someone crazy”. The narrator’s descent to madness was caused by a number of contributing factors, all were linked to her husband’s actions. She passed her life in a restricted environment without having the right of choice her angry led her to depression and for a moment she thought to give an end in her boring life. As in this case, lack of affection from the husband and relatives can be done one of the worst forms of desperation for a woman to endure and become part of a healthy sociality. So, soon her pen became her only consolation. Finally, all these difficult situations drove her to a complete madness, a family was destroyed without trying to avoid it or giving an other chance in their life.
After reading of this unique and interesting short story, it is easy to understand the difficult position of a woman in a specific era with limited rights who were treated as imprisoned persons inside the walls of a false world, that often led people to depression or even to death. Except Gilman, anybody else couldn’t transferred in a perfect way the message of such a painful story. It’s message it was not to drive people crazy as many believe but to prevent them from being crazy. Legendary Gilman with her gold pen will continue to be forever in our hearts as an original master of short stories./AlbStroka.com/