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Charlotte Perkins Stetson 



The Arthur and Elizabeth 

SCHLESINGER LIBRARY 

on the History of Women 

in America 

RADCLIFFE COLLEGE 




Gift of 

Reinhard S. peck 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 



THE 
YELLOW WALL PAPER 



BY 



CHARLOTTE PERKINS STETSON 




BOSTON 
SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY 



V C\u ft 

s / 3 *i 

G V *? 7 ;./ 

Copyright, 1892 

By New England Magazine 

Corporation 

Copyright, 1899 
By Small, Maynard & Company 



Rockwell & Churchill Press 
Boston, U.S.A. 



« 



This story is re-printed from The 
New England Magazine of January ', 
i8p2, by permission of the publisher, 
to whom the thanks of the Author are 
due. The cover design is by Mr. 
E. B. Bird. 



THE 
YELLOW WALL PAPER 

IT is very seldom that mere ordinary 
people like John and myself secure 
ancestral halls for the summer. 

A colonial mansion, a hereditary 
estate, I would say a haunted house, 
and reach the height of romantic 
felicity, — but that would be asking 
too much of fate! 

Still I will proudly declare that there 
is something queer about it. 

Else, why should it be let so cheap- 
ly? And why have stood so long un- 
tenanted ? 

John laughs at me, of course, but 
one expects that in marriage. 

John is practical in the extreme. 
He has no patience with faith, an in- 
tense horror of superstition, and he 
I 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

scoffs openly at any talk of things not 
to be felt and seen and put down in 
figures. 

John is a physician, and perhaps — 
(I would not say it to a living soul, of 
course, but this is dead paper and a 
great relief to my* mind) — perhaps 
that is one reason I do not get well 
faster. 

You see, he does not believe I am 
sick! 

And what can one do ? 

If a physician of high standing, and 
one's own husband, assures friends and 
relatives that there is really nothing 
the matter with one but temporary 
nervous depression, — a slight hysteri- 
cal tendency, — what is one to do? 

My brother is also a physician, and 
2 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

also of high standing, and he says the 
same thing. 

So I take phosphates or phosphites, 
— whichever it is, — and tonics, and 
journeys, and air, and exercise, and 
am absolutely forbidden to w work " 
until I am well again. 

Personally I disagree with their 
ideas. 

Personally I believe that congenial 
work, with excitement and change, 
would do me good. 

But what is one to do ? 

I did write for a while in spite of 
them; but it does exhaust me a good 
deal — having to be so sly about it, 
or else meet with heavy opposition. 

I sometimes fancy that in my con- 
dition if I had less opposition and more 
3 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

society and stimulus — but John says 
the very worst thing I can do is to 
think about my condition, and I con- 
fess it always makes me feel bad. 

So I will let it alone and talk about 
the house. 

The most beautiful place! It is 
quite alone, standing well back from 
the road, quite three miles from the 
village. It makes me think of English 
places that you read about, for there 
are hedges and walls and gates that 
lock, and lots of separate little houses 
for the gardeners and people. 

There is a delicious garden! I 
never saw such a garden — large and 
shady, full of box-bordered paths, and 
lined with long grape-covered arbors 
with seats under them. 
4 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

There were greenhouses, too, but 
they are all broken now. 

There was some legal trouble, I 
believe, something about the heirs 
and co-heirs; anyhow, the place has 
been empty for years. 

That spoils my ghostliness, I am 
afraid; but I don't care — there is 
something strange about the house — 
I can feel it. 

I even said so to John one moon- 
light evening, but he said what I felt 
was a draught, and shut the window. 

I get unreasonably angry with John 
sometimes. Pm sure I never used to 
be so sensitive. I think it is due to 
this nervous condition. 

But John says if I feel so I shall 
neglect proper self-control ; so I take 
5 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

pains to control myself, — before him, 
at least, — and that makes me very tired. 

I don't like our room a bit. I 
wanted one downstairs that opened 
on the piazza and had roses all over 
the window, and such pretty, old-fash- 
ioned chintz hangings ! but John would 
not hear of it. 

He said there was only one window 
and not room for two beds, and no near 
room for him if he took another. 

He is very careful and loving, and 
hardly lets me stir without special 
direction. 

I have a schedule prescription for 
each hour in the day ; he takes all care 
from me, and so I feel basely ungrate- 
ful not to value it more. 

He said we came here solely on my 
6 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

account, that I was to have perfect rest 
and all the air I could get. "Your 
exercise depends on your . strength, my 
dear," said he, w and your food some- 
what on your appetite ; but air you can 
absorb all the time." So we took the 
nursery, at the top of the house. 

It is a big, airy room, the whole 
floor nearly, with windows that look 
all ways, and air and sunshine galore. 
It was nursery first and then play- 
ground and gymnasium, I should 
judge ; for the windows are barred for 
little children, and there are rings and 
things in the walls. 

The paint and paper look as if a 

boys' school had used it. It is stripped 

off — the paper — in great patches all 

around the head of my bed, about as far 

7 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

as I can reach, and in a great place on 
the other side of the room low down. 
I never saw a worse paper in my life. 

One of those sprawling flamboyant 
patterns committing every artistic sin. 

It is dull enough to confuse the eye 
in following, pronounced enough to 
constantly irritate, and provoke study, 
and when you follow the lame, uncer- 
tain curves for a little distance they 
suddenly commit suicide — plunge off 
at outrageous angles, destroy them- 
selves in unheard-of contradictions. 

The color is repellant, almost re- 
volting; a smouldering, unclean yellow, 
strangely faded by the slow-turning 
sunlight. 

It is a dull yet lurid orange in some 
places, a sickly sulphur tint in others. 
8 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

No wonder the children hated it ! I 
should hate it myself if I had to 
live in this room long. 

There comes John, and I must put 
this away, — he hates to have me 
write a word. 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

We have been here two weeks, and 
I haven't felt like writing before, since 
that first day. 

I am sitting by the window now, up 
in this atrocious nursery, and there is 
nothing to hinder my writing as much 
as I please, save lack of strength. 

John is away all day, and even some 
nights when his cases are serious. 

I am glad my case is not serious ! 

But these nervous troubles are dread- 
fully depressing. 

John does not know how much I 
really suffer. He knows there is no 
reason to suffer, and that satisfies him. 

Of course it is only nervousness. It 
does weigh on me so not to do my 
duty in any way! 

I meant to be such a help to John, 
10 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

such a real rest and comfort, and here 
I am a comparative burden already! 

Nobody would believe what an effort 
it is to do what little I am able — to 
dress and entertain, and order things. 

It is fortunate Mary is so good 
with the baby. Such a dear baby! 

And yet I cannot be with him, it 
makes me so nervous. 

I suppose John never was nervous 
in his life. He laughs at me so about 
this wall paper! 

At first he meant to repaper the 
room, but afterwards he said that I 
was letting it get the better of me, 
and that nothing was worse for a 
nervous patient than to give way to 
such fancies. 

He said that after the wall paper 
ii 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

was changed it would be the heavy 
bedstead, and then the barred win- 
dows, and then that gate at the head 
of the stairs, and so on. 

"You know the place is doing you 
good," he said, " and really, dear, I 
don't care to renovate the house just 
for a three months' rental." 

"Then do let us go downstairs," I 
said, "there are such pretty rooms 
there." 

Then he took me in his arms and 
called me a blessed little goose, and 
said he would go down cellar if I 
wished, and have it whitewashed into 
the bargain. 

But he is right enough about the 
beds and windows and things. 

It is as airy and comfortable a room 
12 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

as any one need wish, and, of course, 
I would not be so silly as to make him 
uncomfortable just for a whim. 

Fm really getting quite fond of the 
big room, all but that horrid paper. 

Out of one window I can see the 
garden, those mysterious deep-shaded 
arbors, the riotous old-fashioned flow- 
ers, and bushes and gnarly trees. 

Out of another I get a lovely view 
of the bay and a little private wharf 
belonging to the estate. There is a 
beautiful shaded lane that runs down 
there from the house. I always fancy 
I see people walking in these numer- 
ous paths and arbors, but John has 
cautioned me not to give way to fancy 
in the least. He says that with my 
imaginative power and habit of story- 
13 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

making a nervous weakness like mine 
is sure to lead to all manner of excited 
fancies, and that I ought to use my 
will and good sense to check the ten- 
dency. So I try. 

I think sometimes that if I were 
only well enough to write a little it 
would relieve the press of ideas and 
rest me. 

But I find I get pretty tired when I 
try. 

It is so discouraging not to have any 
advice and companionship about my 
work. When I get really well John 
says we will ask Cousin Henry and 
Julia down for a long visit ; but he 
says he would as soon put fire-works 
in my pillow-case as to let me have 
those stimulating people about now. 
H 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

I wish I could get well faster. 

But I must not think about that. 
This paper looks to me as if it knew 
what a vicious influence it had! 

There is a recurrent spot where the 
pattern lolls like a broken neck and 
two bulbous eyes stare at you upside- 
down. 

I got positively angry with the im- 
pertinence of it and the everlasting- 
ness. Up and down and sideways they 
crawl, and those absurd, unblinking 
eyes are everywhere. There is one 
place where two breadths didn't match, 
and the eyes go all up and down the 
line, one a little higher than the other. 

I never saw so much expression in 
an inanimate thing before, and we all 
know how much expression they have ! 
*5 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

I used to lie awake as a child and get 
more entertainment and terror out of 
blank walls and plain furniture than 
most children could find in a toy- 
store. 

I remember what a kindly wink the 
knobs of our big old bureau used to 
have, and there was one chair that 
always seemed like a strong friend. 

I used to feel that if any of the other 
things looked too fierce I could always 
hop into that chair and be safe. 

The furniture in this room is no 
worse than inharmonious, however, for 
we had to bring it all from downstairs. 
I suppose when this was used as a play- 
room they had to take the nursery things 
out, and no wonder ! I never saw such 
ravages as the children have made here. 
16 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

The wall paper, as I said before, is 
torn off in spots, and it sticketh closer 
than a brother — they must have had 
perseverance as well as hatred. 

Then the floor is scratched and 
gouged and splintered, the plaster it- 
self is dug out here and there, and this 
great heavy bed, which is all we found 
in the room, looks as if it had been 
through the wars. 

But I don't mind it a bit — only the 
paper. 

There comes John's sister. Such a 
dear girl as she is, and so careful of 
me ! I must not let her find me 
writing. 

She is a perfect, an enthusiastic 
housekeeper, and hopes for no bet- 
ter profession. I verily believe she 
17 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

thinks it is the writing which made me 
sick ! 

But I can write when she is out, 
and see her a long way off from these 
windows. 

There is one that commands the 
road, a lovely, shaded, winding road, 
and one that just looks off over the 
country. A lovely country, too, full 
of great elms and velvet meadows. 

This wall paper has a kind of sub- 
pattern in a different shade, a particu- 
larly irritating one, for you can only 
see it in certain lights, and not clearly 
then. 

But in the places where it isn't 
faded, and where the sun is just so, 
I can see a strange, provoking, form- 
less sort of figure, that seems to sulk 
18 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

about behind that silly and conspic- 
uous front design. 

There's sister on the stairs! 



19 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

Well, the Fourth of July is over! 
The people are all gone and I am 
tired out. John thought it might do 
me good to see a little company, so 
we just had mother and Nellie and 
the children down for a week. 

Of course I didn't do a thing. 
Jennie sees to everything now. 

But it tired me all the same. 

John says if I don't pick up faster 
he shall send me to Weir Mitchell 
in the fall. 

But I don't want to go there at all. 
I had a friend who was in his hands 
once, and she says he is just like John 
and my brother, only more so! 

Besides, it is such an undertaking 
to go so far. 

I don't feel as if it was worth 
20 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

while to turn my hand over for any- 
thing, and I'm getting dreadfully fretful 
and querulous. 

I cry at nothing, and cry most of 
the time. 

Of course I don't when John is 
here, or anybody else, but when I 
am alone. 

And I am alone a good deal just now. 
John is kept in town very often by 
serious cases, and Jennie is good and 
lets me alone when I want her to. 

Sd I walk a little in the garden or 
down that lovely lane, sit on the 
porch under the roses, and lie down 
up here a good deal. 

Pm getting really fond of the roDm 
in spite of the wall paper. Perhaps 
because of the wall paper. 
21 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

It dwells in my mind so! 

I lie here on this great immovable 
bed — it is nailed down, I believe — 
and follow that pattern about by the 
hour. It is as good as gymnastics, I 
assure you. I start, we'll say, at the 
bottom, down in the corner over there 
where it has not been touched, and I 
determine for the thousandth time that 
I will follow that pointless pattern to 
some sort of a conclusion. 

I know a little of the principles of 
design, and I know this thing was not 
arranged on any laws of radiation, or 
alternation, or repetition, or symmetry, 
or anything else that I ever heard of. 

It is repeated, of course, by the 
breadths, but not otherwise. 

Looked at in one way, each breadth 
22 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

stands alone, the bloated curves and 
flourishes — a kind of "debased Ro- 
manesque" with delirium tremens — 
go waddling up and down in isolated 
columns of fatuity. 

But, on the other hand, they con- 
nect diagonally, and the sprawling 
outlines run off in great slanting waves 
of optic horror, like a lot of wallow- 
ing seaweeds in full chase. 

The whole thing goes horizontally, 
too, at least it seems so, and I exhaust 
myself in trying to distinguish the 
order of its going in that direction. 

They have used a horizontal breadth 
for a frieze, and that adds wonderfully 
to the confusion. 

There is one end of the room where 
it is almost intact, and there, when 
23 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

the cross-lights fade and the low sun 
shines directly upon it, I can almost 
fancy radiation, after all, — the inter- 
minable grotesques seem to form around 
a common centre and rush off in head- 
long plunges of equal distraction. 

It makes me tired to follow it. I 
will take a nap, I guess. 



24 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

I don't know why I should write 
this. 

I don't want to. 

I don't feel able. 

And I know John would think it 
absurd. 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. 

Half the time now I am awfully lazy, 
and lie down ever so much. 

John says I mustn't lose my strength, 
and has me take cod-liver oil and lots 
of tonics and things, to say nothing of 
ale and wine and rare meat. 

Dear John! He loves me very 
dearly, and hates to have me sick. I 
tried to have a real earnest reasonable 
25 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

talk with him the other day, and tell 
him how I wished he would let me go 
and make a visit to Cousin Henry and 
Julia. 

But he said I wasn't able to go, nor 
able to stand it after I got there ; and I 
did not make out a very good case for 
myself, for I was crying before I had 
finished. 

It is getting to be a great effort for 
me to think straight. Just this nervous 
weakness, I suppose. 

And dear John gathered me up in 
his arms, and just carried me upstairs 
and laid me on the bed, and sat by 
me and read to me till he tired my 
head. 

He said I was his darling and his 
comfort and all he had, and that I must 
26 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

take care of myself for his sake, and 
keep well. 

He says no one but myself can help 
me out of it, that I must use my will 
and self-control and not let my silly 
fancies run away with me. 

There's one comfort, the baby is 
well and happy, and does not have to 
occupy this nursery with the horrid 
wall paper. 

If we had not used it that blessed 
child would have! What a fortunate 
escape! Why, I wouldn't have a 
child of mine, an impressionable little 
thing, live in such a room for worlds. 

I never thought of it before, but it is 
lucky that John kept me here, after all. 
I can stand it so much easier than a 
baby, you see. 

27 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

Of course I never mention it to them 
any more, — I am too wise, — but I 
keep watch of it all the same. 

There are things in that paper that 
nobody knows but me, or ever will. 

Behind that outside pattern the dim 
shapes get clearer every day. 

It is always the same shape, only 
very numerous. 

And it is like a woman stooping 
down and creeping about behind that 
pattern. I don't like it a bit. I won- 
der — I begin to think — I wish John 
would take me away from here! 



28 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

It is so hard to talk with John about 
my case, because he is so wise, and be- 
cause he loves me so. 

But I tried it last night. 

It was moonlight. The moon shines 
in all around, just as the sun does. 

I hate to see it sometimes, it creeps 
so slowly, and always comes in by one 
window or another. 

John was asleep and I hated to 
waken him, so I kept still and watched 
the moonlight on that undulating wall 
paper till I felt creepy. 

The faint figure behind seemed to 
shake the pattern, just as if she wanted 
to get out. 

I got up softly and went to feel 
and see if the paper did move, and 
when I came back John was awake. 
29 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

"What is it, little girl?" he said. 
w Don't go walking about like that — 
you'll get cold." 

I thought it was a good time to 
talk, so I told him that I really was 
not gaining here, and that I wished 
he would take me away. 

" Why, darling ! " said he, "our lease 
will be up in three weeks, and I can't 
see how to leave before. 

w The repairs are not done at home, 
and I cannot possibly leave town just 
now. Of course if you were in any 
danger I could and would, but you 
really are better, dear, whether you 
can see it or not. I am a doctor, 
dear, and I know. You are gaining 
flesh and color, your appetite is better. 
I feel really much easier about you." 
3o 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

"I don't weigh a bit more," said I, 
" nor as much ; and my appetite may 
be better in the evening, when you 
are here, but it is worse in the morn- 
ing, when you are away." 

"Bless her little heart!" said he 
with a big hug; " she shall be as sick as 
she pleases. But now let's improve 
the shining hours by going to sleep, 
and talk about it in the morning." 

"And you won't go away?" I asked 
gloomily. 

" Why, how can I, dear ? It is only 
three weeks more and then we will 
take a nice little trip of a few days 
while Jennie is getting the house 
ready. Really, dear, you are better!" 

"Better in body, perhaps" — I be- 
gan, and stopped short, for he sat up 
3i 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

straight and looked at me with such 
a stern, reproachful look that I could 
not say another word. 

w My darling," said he, "I beg of 
you, for my sake and for our child's 
sake, as well as for your own, that 
you will never for one instant let that 
idea enter your mind! There is noth- 
ing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a 
temperament like yours. It is a false 
and foolish fancy. Can you not trust 
me as a physician when I tell you so ? " 

So of course I said no more on that 
score, and we went to sleep before 
long. He thought I was asleep first, 
but I wasn't, — I lay there for hours 
trying to decide whether that front 
pattern and the back pattern really 
did move together or separately. 
32 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

On a pattern like this, by daylight, 
there is a lack of sequence, a defiance 
of law, that is a constant irritant to a 
normal mind. 

The color is hideous enough, and 
unreliable enough, and infuriating 
enough, but the pattern is torturing. 

You think you have mastered it, 
but just as you get well under way in 
following, it turns a back somersault, 
and there you are. It slaps you in the 
face, knocks you down, and tramples 
upon you. It is like a bad dream. 

The outside pattern is a florid ara- 
besque, reminding one of a fungus. If 
you can imagine a toadstool in joints, an 
interminable string of toadstools, bud- 
ding and sprouting in endless convolu- 
tions, — why, that is something like it. 
33 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

That is, sometimes ! 

There is one marked peculiarity 
about this paper, a thing nobody seems 
to notice but myself, and that is that 
it changes as the light changes. 

When the sun shoots in through the 
east window — I always watch for that 
first long, straight ray — it changes so 
quickly that I never can quite believe it. 

That is why I watch it always. 

By moonlight — the moon shines in 
all night when there is a moon — I 
wouldn't know it was the same paper. 

At night in any kind of light, in 
twilight, candlelight, lamplight, and 
worst of all by moonlight, it becomes 
bars! The outside pattern, I mean, 
and the woman behind it is as plain 
as can be. 

34 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

I didn't realize for a long time what 
the thing was that showed behind, — 
that dim sub-pattern, — but now I am 
quite sure it is a woman. 

By daylight she is subdued, quiet. I 
fancy it is the pattern that keeps her so 
still. It is so puzzling. It keeps me 
quiet by the hour. 

I lie down ever so much now. John 
says it is good for me, and to sleep all 
I can. 

Indeed, he started the habit by making 
me lie down for an hour after each meal. 

It is a very bad habit, I am convinced, 
for, you see, I don't sleep. 

And that cultivates deceit, for I don't 
tell them I'm awake, — oh, no! 

The fact is, I am getting a little afraid 
of John. 

35 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

He seems very queer sometimes, 
and even Jennie has an inexplicable 
look. 

It strikes me occasionally, just as a 
scientific hypothesis, that perhaps it is 
the paper! 

I have watched John when he did 
not know I was looking, and come into 
the room suddenly on the most inno- 
cent excuses, and Pve caught him 
several times looking at the paper! 
And Jennie too. I caught Jennie with 
her hand on it once. 

She didn't know I was in the room, 
and when I asked her in a quiet, a very 
quiet voice, with the most restrained 
manner possible, what she was doing 
with the paper she turned around as 
if she had been caught stealing, and 

36 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

looked quite angry — asked me why I 
should frighten her so ! 

Then she said that the paper stained 
everything it touched, that she had 
found yellow smooches on all my 
clothes and John's, and she wished we 
would be more careful ! 

Did not that sound innocent? But I 
know she was studying that pattern, and 
I am determined that nobody shall find 
it out but myself ! 



37 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

Life is very much more exciting now 
than it used to be. You see I have 
something more to expect, to look for- 
ward to, to watch. I really do eat 
better, and am more quiet than I was. 

John is so pleased to see me improve ! 
He laughed a little the other day, and 
said I seemed to be flourishing in spite 
of my wall paper. 

I turned it off with a laugh. I had 
no intention of telling him it was be- 
cause of the wall paper — he would 
make fun of me. He might even want 
to take me away. 

I don't want to leave now until I 
have found it out. There is a week 
more, and I think that will be enough. 



38 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

Pm feeling ever so much better! I 
don't sleep much at night, for it is so 
interesting to watch developments ; but 
I sleep a good deal in the daytime. 

In the daytime it is tiresome and per- 
plexing. 

There are always new shoots on the 
fungus, and new shades of yellow all 
over it. I cannot keep count of them, 
though I have tried conscientiously. 

It is the strangest yellow, that wall 
paper ! It makes me think of all the 
yellow things I ever saw — not beauti- 
ful ones like buttercups, but old foul, 
bad yellow things. 

But there is something else about 

that paper — the smell! I noticed it 

the moment we came into the room, 

but with so much air and sun it was 

39 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

not bad. Now we have had a week of 
fog and rain, and whether the windows 
are open or not the smell is here. 

It creeps all over the house. 

I find it hovering in the dining-room, 
skulking in the parlor, hiding in the 
hall, lying in wait for me on the 
stairs. 

It gets into my hair. 

Even when I go to ride, if I turn 
my head suddenly and surprise it — 
there is that smell! 

Such a peculiar odor, too ! I have 
spent hours in trying to analyze it, to 
find what it smelled like. 

It is not bad — at first, and very 
gentle, but quite the subtlest, most en- 
during odor I ever met. 

In this damp weather it is awful. I 
40 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

wake up in the night and find it hang- 
ing over me. 

It used to disturb me at first. I 
thought seriously of burning the house 
— to reach the smell. 

But now I am used to it. The only 
thing I can think of that it is like is the 
color of the paper — a yellow smell! 

There is a very funny mark on this 
wall, low down, near the mopboard. A 
streak that runs around the room. It 
goes behind every piece of furniture, 
except the bed, a long, straight, even 
smooch^ as if it had been rubbed over 
and over. 

I wonder how it was done and who 

did it, and what they did it for. Round 

and round and round — round and 

round and round — it makes me dizzy ! 

4i 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

I really have discovered something 
at last. 

Through watching so much at night, 
when it changes so, I have finally found 
out. 

The front pattern does move — and 
no wonder ! The woman behind shakes 
it! 

Sometimes I think there are a great 
many women behind, and sometimes 
only one, and she crawls around fast, 
and her crawling shakes it all over. 

Then in the very bright spots she 
keeps still, and in the very shady spots 
she just takes hold of the bars and 
shakes them hard. 

And she is all the time trying to 
climb through. But nobody could 
climb through that pattern — it strangles 
42 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

so ; I think that is why it has so many 
heads. 

They get through, and then the pat- 
tern strangles them off and turns them 
upside-down, and makes their eyes 
white ! 

If those heads were covered or taken 
off it would not be half so bad. 



43 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

I think that woman gets out in the 
daytime ! 

And I'll tell you why — privately — 
Pve seen her ! 

I can see her out of every one of my 
windows ! 

It is the same woman, I know, for she 
is always creeping, and most women do 
not creep by daylight. 

I see her in that long shaded lane, 
creeping up and down. I see her in 
those dark grape arbors, creeping all 
around the garden. 

I see her on that long road under the 
trees, creeping along, and when a car- 
riage comes she hides under the black- 
berry vines. 

I don't blame her a bit. It must be 
very humiliating to be caught creeping 
by daylight ! 

44 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

I always lock the door when I creep 
by daylight. I can't do it at night, 
for I know John would suspect some- 
thing at once. 

And John is so queer, now, that I 
don't want to irritate him. I wish he 
would take another room ! Besides, I 
don't want anybody to get that woman 
out at night but myself. 

I often wonder if I could see her out 
of all the windows at once. 

But, turn as fast as I can, I can only 
see out of one at one time. 

And though I always see her she 
may be able to creep faster than I 
can turn! 

I have watched her sometimes away 
off in the open country, creeping as fast 
as a cloud shadow in a high wind. 
45 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

If only that top pattern could be 
gotten off from the under one! I mean 
to try it, little by little. 

I have found out another funny 
thing, but I shan't tell it this time! 
It does not do to trust people too 
much. 

There are only two more days to get 
this paper off, and I believe John is 
beginning to notice. I don't like the 
look in his eyes. 

And I heard him ask Jennie a lot of 
professional questions about me. She 
had a very good report to give. 

She said I slept a good deal in the 
daytime. 

John knows I don't sleep very well 
at night, for all I'm so quiet ! 

He asked me all sorts of questions, 

4 6 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

too, and pretended to be very loving 
and kind. 

As if I couldn't see through him ! 

Still, I don't wonder he acts so, 
sleeping under this paper for three 
months. 

It only interests me, but I feel sure 
John and Jennie are secretly affected 
by it. 



47 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

Hurrah ! This is the last day, but 
it is enough. John is to stay in town 
over night, and won't be out until this 
evening. 

Jennie wanted to sleep with me — 
the sly thing ! but I told her I should 
undoubtedly rest better for a night all 
alone. 

That was clever, for really I wasn't 
alone a bit ! As soon as it was moon- 
light, and that poor thing began to crawl 
and shake the pattern, I got up and ran 
to help her. 

I pulled and she shook, I shook and 
she pulled, and before morning we had 
peeled off yards of that paper. 

A strip about as high as my head 
and half around the room. 

And then when the sun came and 

4 8 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

that awful pattern began to laugh at 
me I declared I would finish it to- 
day ! 

We go away to-morrow, and they are 
moving all my furniture down again 
to leave things as they were before. 

Jennie looked at the wall in amaze- 
ment, but I told her merrily that I 
did it out of pure spite at the vicious 
thing. 

She laughed and said she wouldn't 
mind doing it herself, but I must not get 
tired. 

How she betrayed herself that time ! 

But I am here, and no person touches 
this paper but me — not alive! 

She tried to get me out of the room 
— it was too patent ! But I said it was 
so quiet and empty and clean now that 
49 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

I believed I would lie down again and 
sleep all I could ; and not to wake me 
even for dinner — I would call when I 
woke. 

So now she is gone, and the servants 
are gone, and the things are gone, and 
there is nothing left but that great bed- 
stead nailed down, with the canvas 
mattress we found on it. 

We shall sleep downstairs to-night, 
and take the boat home to-morrow. 

I quite enjoy the room, now it is bare 
again., 

How those children did tear about 
here ! 

This bedstead is fairly gnawed! 

But I must get to work. 

I have locked the door and thrown 
the key down into the front path. 
5o 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

I don't want to go out, and I don't 
want to have anybody come in, till John 
comes. 

I want to astonish him. 

I've got a rope up here that even 
Jennie did not find. If that woman 
does get out, and tries to get away, I 
can tie her! 

But I forgot I could not reach far 
without anything to stand on ! 

This bed will not move! 

I tried to lift and push it until I was 
lame, and then I got so angry I bit off a 
little piece at one corner — but it hurt 
my teeth. 

Then I peeled off all the paper I 
could reach standing on the floor. It 
sticks horribly and the pattern just en- 
joys it ! All those strangled heads 
5* 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

and bulbous eyes and waddling fungus 
growths just shriek with derision! 

I am getting angry enough to do some- 
thing desperate. To jump out of the 
window would be admirable exercise, 
but the bars are too strong even to try. 

Besides, I wouldn't do it. Of course 
not. I know well enough that a step 
like that is improper and might be mis- 
construed. 

I don't like to look out of the win- 
dows even — there are so many of those 
creeping women, and they creep so 
fast. 

I wonder if they all come out of that 
wall paper, as I did? 

But I am securely fastened now by 
my well-hidden rope — you don't get 
me out in the road there! 
52 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

I suppose I shall have to get back 
behind the pattern when it comes night, 
and that is hard ! 

It is so pleasant to be out in this 
great room and creep around as I 
please ! 

I don't want to go outside. I won't, 
even if Jennie asks me to. 

For outside you have to creep on the 
ground, and everything is green instead 
of yellow. 

But here I can creep smoothly on the 
floor, and my shoulder just fits in that 
long smooch around the wall, so I can- 
not lose my way. 

Why, there's John at the door ! 

It is no use, young man, you can't 
open it! 

How he does call and pound! 
53 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

Now he's crying for an axe. 

It would be a shame to break down 
that beautiful door ! 

"John, dear! " said I in the gentlest 
voice, ft the key is down by the front 
steps, under a plantain leaf!" 

That silenced him for a few mo- 
ments. 

Then he said — very quietly indeed, 
"Open the door, my darling! " 

" I can't," said I. " The key is down 
by the front door, under a plantain 
leaf!" 

And then I said it again, several 
times, very gently and slowly, and said 
it so often that he had to go and see, 
and he got it, of course, and came in. 
He stopped short by the door. 

"What is the matter?" he cried. 
54 



THE YELLOW WALL PAPER 

"For God's sake, what are you do- 
ing?" 

I kept on creeping just the same, but 
I looked at him over my shoulder. 

"I've got out at last," said I, "in 
spite of you and Jane! And I've pulled 
off most of the paper, so you can't put 
me back ! " 

Now why should that man have 
fainted? But he did, and right across 
my path by the wall, so that I had to 
creep over him every time! 



55 



Ch&TlottePerkins Stetson