The Yellow Wallpaper (2014-15) – for solo vibraphone with speaking percussionist - (7:00)
Watch the video here.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892) takes the reader on a journey of one woman’s loss of sanity due to isolation. The story begins with a woman suffering from post-partum depression, and her husband treats her with Dr. S. Weir Mitchell’s famous (or notorious) “rest cure” of the mid- 1800s. Due to her isolation in her room, the protagonist’s major pastime is staring at the yellow wallpaper that has no pattern; her intellectual time per day is limited, but she sneaks in some writing when possible. Because the wallpaper is so confusing in its pattern, watching the wallpaper and studying it eventually leads the protagonist to complete insanity. The yellow wallpaper is a symbol that directly coincides with the demise of our main character’s mental state. As the author goes deeper and deeper into insanity, the wallpaper begins to become understandable, and the “rest cure” fails by turning a smart and capable woman into a pacing maniac. By the end of the story, both the author’s sanity and the paper are destroyed from their lives, leaving only a creeping lunatic and her husband in disbelief of what he had done.
All of the text is excerpted from these diary writings in the story.