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Pearce 1Willard R. PearceNathan MendenhallENG 223The Yellow Wallpaper: ThemesThe Yellow Wallpaper is a semi-autobiographical story written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in 1892. In order to fully understand the context and meaning of the story, one must lookat the life of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. She was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1860 to the prominent upper-middle class Beecher family. Family members included minister Henry Ward Beecher and novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe. However, despite her ancestry, she was born into poverty and only received four years of formal education (About n.d.). Her father deserted his family and left for San Francisco shortly after her birth. Between 1880 and 1884, she began to become aware of some of the injustices society had placed on women, and had begun to write poems. She reluctantly married Charles Stetson in 1884, anticipating the demands of being a wife, mother, and writer. In less than a year, their only child, a daughter, was born. She began suffering from post-partum depression, and her marriage began to deteriorate (From, n.d.). It is during this period of her life that her book begins to mirror her life. Her husband andher mother persuaded her to go to Philadelphia to see Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, a renowned neurologist, for treatment. A specialist in women’s disorders, Mitchell prescribed a “rest cure” consisting of total bedrest and limited intellectual activity. She followed his advice for three months, and it nearly drove her to the edge of madness. She avoided going off the deep end by resuming her life as a wife, mother, and writer (Gilman, n.d.). A few years later she wrote her now famous story. However, after suffering a near mental breakdown, she divorced her husband,
Pearce 2and she sent her daughter to live with him. She eventually moved with her daughter to California in 1888 and began the life of a single mother (From n.d.). She then devoted her life towriting, becoming a successful author, lecturer and women’s rights advocate.The story begins with the narrator and her physician husband, John, renting a large mansion for three months so she can recuperate from a “slight hysterical tendency”. John has prescribed the “rest cure” treatment. She is given a former nursery room upstairs and confined tomostly bed rest and very limited physical activity. The room has bars on the windows, a bed that