Charlotte Gilman sent a copy of her story to her ex-doctor. She wanted to show him how incorrect the cure for depression was. After her child’s birth, similar to her character, Gilman suffered from severe maternity blues. The author recovered because she stopped following the doctor’s orders.
The Yellow Wallpaper is a first-person story. The character’s husband, a doctor, decided to treat her depression by isolation. It was a typical XIX century diagnosis. Minimum talking and mental stress was a standard treatment of the era. The character had to spend long days in a room with yellow wallpaper. The walls became part of the psychosis into which she immersed. The author also suffered from depression but managed to recover. It explains why she sent a copy of her story to her former doctor, who also applied the wrong treatment methods.
This story criticizes XIX century psychiatry and doctors’ approaches to treating depression. Using the wrong methods, doctors aggravated their patients’ health. They did not allow women to communicate and lead a fulfilling social life. The women had no chance to recover under such conditions. If the doctors tried to understand the patients, they would see that the treatment did not help. But they believed in their methods and overlooked the obvious.
Later Gilman wrote a short work, Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper. There she explains that the story appeared after she had got well of severe depression. It has become one of the feminist movement’s key texts. The work is a classic testament to depression and a description of the inadequate treatment.