Online Educational Resources

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860–1935)

First and Significant Publications of Commonly Taught Texts

Early Reviews of Gilman's Works

Reflections upon Gilman and Her Work

  • “It was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy, and it worked.”—Charlotte Perkins Gilman. "Why I Wrote 'The Yellow Wallpaper'?" The Forerunner (October 1913).
  • “Mrs. Charlotte Perkins Gilman is again on the warpath. She is determined, if possible, to realize the old platonic form of socialism—to get the women and children out of the home. In her opinion there is no place so bad as home, be it ever so humble or ever so pretentious.”—“The Whipping-Post.” Lincoln County Leader (January 27, 1905): 2.
  • “Mrs. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, formerly Mrs. Charlotte Perkins Stetson, has been called the typical new woman. Mrs. Gilman was, and probably is still, a great believer in the theory that woman should be emancipated, and her book, ‘Women and Economics,’ is a powerful presentation of her position.”—“Clubs.” The Courier 15, 32 (August 11, 1900): 5.
  • “Mrs. Stetson is a woman of uncommon intelligence and the highest aims, of an individuality so strong that she makes some enemies, while she wins some friends.”—Clara Spalding Brown. “Women Who Write.” Semi-Weekly Interior Journal 11, 5 (March 17, 1893): 6.
  • “’Why I’m not a reformer,’ said she last evening. ‘I have no plan for the regeneration of the world. I have simply studied the development of human nature. I have tried to point out what I considered to be the course of evolution, insofar as it refers to women and their work.’”—“Most Famous of New Women Now Visiting Salt Lake.” The Salt Lake Herald (November 26, 1899): 2.
  • “She will frankly criticise her own work in one breath and as frankly praise it in the next. Take it for all in all she is a delicious and wholly contradictory jumble of exceedingly clever femininity, whom it is a pleasure to watch and a delight to hear when the thunder does not crackle too ominously near the sunshine.”—“A New England Woman’s Interesting Personality.” The Saint Paul Globe 22, 71 (March 12, 1899): 34.
  • “Of the women who represent and carry on this many-sided movement today, the first to be considered from this masculine viewpoint should, I think, be Charlotte Perkins Gilman. For she is, to a superficial view, the most intransigent feminist of them all, the one most exclusively concerned with the improvement of the lot of woman, the least likely to compromise at the instance of man, child, church, state or devil.”—Floyd Dell. Women as World Builders: Studies in Modern Feminism. Chicago: Forbes and Company, 1913.

Lesson and Discussion Prompts

  • How are Gilman’s personal, political, and philosophical views reflected in her work, especially in "The Yellow Wallpaper"? Why was Gilman such a radical figure at the time?

  • "The Yellow Wallpaper" was published by The Feminist Press in 1973; thanks to this “rediscovery,” the story became quite popular, leading to its inclusion in the 1990 edition of The Norton Anthology. Why do you think it was included in the anthology? What makes the story an important example of American literature?

  • How would the effect of "The Yellow Wallpaper" upon the reader have differed if the story were written in the third person instead of the first person? Rewrite "The Yellow Wallpaper" in a different voice or from the perspective of a different character, such as the doctor or the husband.

Contemporary Interpretations

  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” was performed on the radio program Suspense.
  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” was adapted into a film for Masterpiece Theatre.
  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” is referenced in the television show American Horror Story (season one).
  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” was also the basis for a 1989 The Twilight Zone episode titled “Something in the Walls.”
  • Other media interpretations can be found here.

Useful Biographical and Contextual Information