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A dark, intriguing short story, and very well-read in this Audible version, which captures how a lack of understanding of depression leads one woman deeper into the neurotic recesses of her mind. Brilliantly executed, the author relies on repetition, imagery and symbolism to portray the narrator's declining mental health, whilst borrowing on Gothic characteristics that chill and unsettle the reader. An unnerving yet compelling read that still has contemporary relevance, as it raises questions about how well mental health issues are understood and supported even today.
When I first listened to the story a year ago, I was deeply moved and shaken. It took me so much time to listen to it again. I must say it's not just a spooky story of a woman showing signs of incipient madness, as it might seem. It's a protest against quack psychiatrists of the 19th century, who instead of curing patients ended up complicating their mental illness.
The story is autobiographical. Being unstable, C.P. Gilman suffered from nervous breakdowns herself. She turned to a physician, whose treatment methods proved to be ineffective. C.P. Gilman was subdued to the domestic sphere, was allowed to have only two hours' intellectual stimulation, and was prevented from working. Deprived from normal life, she nearly slipped into insanity. Only when Gilman returned to work, did she manage to recover.
As Charlotte Perkins Gilman put it, the story "was not intended to drive people crazy, but to save people from being driven crazy".
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novella is one of those stories that reminds me to be thankful that I live when I do. It's about a woman who is suffering from postpartum depression before postpartum depression existed. Instead, women suffered from “exhaustion,” “a case of nerves,” or (the best gender-specific illness of all time) “hysteria.” She submits to the forced regime of rest prescribed by her doctor husband, and the inactivity and removal from her child throws her headfirst into a depressive spiral. Especially strong in audio - the narration here is gentle, real, and creepy all at once. Jo Myddleton’s voice begins calm and rises in desperation as the protagonist descends into madness. The panic and claustrophobia is tangible. You’ll get angry. You’ll want to protest something. Your inner-feminist (guys too - you know she’s in there) will awaken. It’s awesome.
20 of 21 people found this review helpful