The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Around 50 pages
It's refreshing to have a short story thrown in here to balance out the Clarissas of the List. It's even more refreshing to have a female author.
The story is a collection of journal entries written by a woman as she not so slowly descends into madness. The physician husband of our unnamed narrator has diagnosed her with temporary nervous depression with a slight hysterical tendency (this was back in those scary days where men told women what to do with their bodies...shudder). He rents a mansion for the summer and makes her stay in the nursery, which naturally has bars on the windows because everything from the Victorian era is nightmare fodder.
This is a genuinely disquieting story. The woman's husband, John, is not a Lovelace-esque figure. Often the most insidious forms of oppression come from people who claim to be acting in our best interests, and that was certainly the case with women being treated for "hysterics."
Very creepy and very relevant.
There is an episode of the Twilight Zone loosely based on this story.
UP NEXT: The Real Charlotte by Somerville and Ross. Another novel written by two people...how are people doing this?