Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper (76:00)
Touted as one of the first major feminist writers, Charlotte Perkins Gilman spent her life fighting to liberate women from the yoke of domesticity. This is a stunning BBC dramatization of Gilman’s autobiographical account of a woman driven to madness by the repressive mores of Victorian culture. Stephen Dillon as the husband, John, and Julia Watson as the despondent heroine give stellar performances in this production directed by the BBC’s John Clive. (76 minutes)
Country House (05:01)
Charlotte and John arrive at the house he's chosen for her "rest-cure." Their bedroom, a former nursery with barred windows and garish yellow wallpaper, increases the setting's sense of isolation.
Charlotte finds the house "creepy." Her husband institutes the doctor's rigid prescription for rest and little activity and others care for the baby. Her sense of isolation and despair deepen.
Intellectual Life (06:05)
John admonishes Charlotte for taxing her strength after she reads all afternoon. His active life as a doctor is contrasted to hers when she asks, "What on earth am I supposed to do with myself all day?"
Charlotte's Despondency (06:15)
Charlotte lies awake at night and eats little. She keeps a first-person narrative journal and records her worries and growing paranoia. John leaves, but in his absence Jennie enforces the rest-cure.
Losing Track of Days (05:44)
Charlotte complains she is losing track of time and needs something to occupy her imagination. She suffers from nightmares, can't think straight, and becomes nervous spending time with her son.
Imagination is the Enemy (06:25)
Charlotte asks John if they can visit Cambridge, but he refuses since it might overstimulate her. He contends that her imagination is the enemy, and she must use her will and self-control to get better.
Charlotte's Mental Disintegration (08:15)
John shows little understanding of Charlotte's mental state as he attempts to interact with her. When John's mother visits for the weekend, Charlotte breaks down in the face of pressure.
Woman's Role in the Home (04:47)
After suffering a breakdown at tea, Charlotte tells John that her feelings are all she has left of her life. Dr. Stock forbids her to write and lectures her on a woman's role in the home.
Obsessions and Delusions (06:33)
Obsessed with the wallpaper, Charlotte seeks to solve its "puzzle." She complains of an enduring smell that "creeps all over the house." Dr. Stock and John discuss cures for her hysterics.
At night, Charlotte prowls the house and grounds, seeing visions. She describes her mental world as one she can't control, but John discounts her ideas as "false and foolish," imploring her to trust him.
Descent into Madness (05:04)
Charlotte's psychosis is evident as she frantically searches for an imaginary woman. John placates her, calling her a "good girl" before giving her a medicinal drink to calm her down.
Ironic Contrast (04:28)
When John goes to town, Charlotte comes unravelled. Scenes of John's lecture on treatment of the mentally ill are contrasted with Charlotte's destruction of the room with the yellow wallpaper.
John's Return (03:22)
John finds the bedroom barricaded and kicks the door in. He collapses when he sees Charlotte crawling in the debris like an animal. She keeps crawling out of the house into the garden beyond.