Since 1973, the year in which Elaine Hedges's groundbreaking edition of "The Yellow Wallpaper" was published, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story has been read primarily as one of America's leading feminist texts. With potent symbolism and a fragmented style of narration, it is easy to understand why many feminist scholars fashion the story's narrator into a proactive feminist, a courageous heroine who rebels against patriarchal oppression. While this trend of interpretation compellingly attempts to empower the narrator, it often overlooks her perspective of disability and projects the characteristics of a nondisabled, high-functioning feminist on a mentally ill woman. This paper reads Gilman's short story as a narrative of mental illness and applies the research of feminist disability scholars Anita Silvers, Jenny Morris, and Susan Wendell to a close reading of the story. Approaching the story from this perspective, we can identify the systems of oppression that disable the narrator and read "The Yellow Wallpaper" in a way that validates the subjective reality of depression and invites disabled voices into feminism's exploration of womanhood.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Hood, Rebekah Michele, "Invisible Voices: Revising Feminist Approaches to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Including the Narrative of Mental Illness" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 6678.
"The Yellow Wallpaper, " Charlotte Perkins Gilman, mental illness, disability studies