The Yellow Wall-Paper — Charlotte Perkins Gilman
In this short story, the reader gets to follow a woman undergoing a nervous breakdown. Her husband, a doctor, says that the main reason for her mental instability is her writing. She should stay at home and sit isolated in her room in order to get well, he ordinates. The story is told through her secret diary where she writes down her thoughts and feelings while isolated. The reader can note how her obsession with the yellow wallpaper inside the room grows stronger and stronger. This story is considered to be one of the central early works in American feminist literature as it described the attitudes during the 19th century towards women’s mental health.
I have interpreted its message, first, by making the book pages into a gradient scale from white to yellow, offering to the reader the same feeling of gradual breakdown as experienced by the main character. The book’s typesetting also develops in line with the unfolding of the narrative in how the text grows wider and larger. I want to enhance a feeling of claustrophobia in the book form, just as in how the woman wants to — but cannot — break free from the small and constrained space of the room, here represented by the page itself. The book is designed with a Japanese folding, which means that the book pages contain a hidden space between them. In the story, the main character describes how she sees the shape of a woman behind the yellow wallpaper. The pages of the book hide other examples of women who have, throughout history, been similarly abused, silenced, overlooked or ignored.