This weeks Writer’s Quote Wednesday is dedicated to Charlotte Perkins Gilman. I read her (very) short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, earlier this week, and man, was that a good story! It’s written as a series of journal entries from a woman who’s husband, a physician, confines her to a house in the country. He believes she suffers from a bit of depression (read: hysteria) and prescribes a quiet life for her with lots of rest and absolutely no stimulation.
She tries to tell him she wants to write, and see family members, and, eventually, to leave the house all together but he assures her that if she would only rest and learn to control herself she would get better. Instead of getting better she slowly becomes obsessed with the ugly yellow wallpaper in their bedroom and loses her mind.
The work is considered a great piece of feminist literature. It highlights the views and treatment of woman’s mental health issues in the 19th century. I also think it reads as an amazing horror story. I mean it really gave me the creeps!* I highly recommend it for EVERYONE but especially for woman and especially, especially for women suffering from any sort of mental illness. I think we all could relate to it on some level and if not it is just plain entertaining. After you read it look up the writer too. This story was an exaggeration of her own experiences with mental illness.
“But I MUST say what I feel and think in some way—it is such a relief!
But the effort is getting to be greater than the relief.”
― Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper
I picked the quote from the part of the story when the main character is really starting to lose it. She has been secretly keeping a journal because her husband forbids her to write. It seems to me that she has a great need to say something but the isolation and the lack of stimulation are making something that she once found enjoyable quite tiring. Still though, she keeps on writing. It seems that nothing could take that away from her in the end.
I liked the quote because I have had my own struggles with mental illness in the past. There were times when things were getting really bad and I felt like I was going crazy. Writing helped me work out my feelings and get a better perspective. I will occasionally read over these old journal entries and I have the same tone of “I have to write, I have to say something, but oh the writing is hard”.
Or maybe it wasn’t writing that was hard. Maybe it is the way writing forces you to face your illness and move either out of it or further into it. Maybe it is only what the writing does to a mind already strained that tires us…But still we MUST say what we feel and think in some way right? Even when the effort has become greater than the relief, we must continue on.
*Pun intended but you won’t get it unless you read the book :)