Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story that deals with many different issues that woman in the 19th century had to deal with on a daily basis. Some of these issues were within their control, but many of them were outside of the realm of control for women. The main point that I will focus on is how restricted societal roles can cause insanity. I will do this by deciphering the meaning of the "yellow wallpaper" and its symbolism. In my opinion, I believe that once we get a better understanding of the author's interest in this subject area and get a feel for life in the 19th century, then we will have a better understanding of the story.
First, let's take a look at the background of Gilman before and after she wrote The Yellow Wallpaper. Gilman lived during the late 19th and early 20th centuries and she definitely had her fair share of troubles.
Her biggest struggle in life was living within the constraints of a society that put women in a class apart from everyone else; when in her heart she felt that she was an equal counterpart to men. She suffered depression from this problem for many years, until finally she was seem by a world-famous neurologist, Dr. Weir Mitchell, who simply prescribed her with rest. This "rest period" sent her into an even deeper state of depression, which she didn't come out of until she tried to resume her normal life, along with joining the American Woman Suffrage Association as a writer and active participant. Unfortunately, Gilman's life got so bad that her condition got worse and she fell to the insanity level, eventually causing her to commit suicide with chloroform.
Now that we have a little background on the author, we can...