The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Elaine Hedges I was reminded of this little piece by a fellow reviewer and while I read it way back in college, several things still stick in my mind.
First, the prevalent psychology of Freud during the time-period. This novel portrays the kind of circular thinking that could happen to anyone in that particular time and station. Any person of a protected, apparently weak, and especially underclass station could find the confines so stifling that it might break your mind. This isn't to say that every woman had it this bad, or had weak minds. I'm saying that Freud pointed out something that was happening during this time-period and all of a sudden he gets catapulted into prominence for stating the obvious. His ideas were so distasteful upon their arrival that writers, revolutionaries, men and women of all walks of life decided to show how much they weren't influenced by Freud by attempting to make it equal between the sexes. I think that part was very healthy, myself. Ms. Gilman was a perfect example of a revolutionary. She showed us how insane a person could get being put into that society, under those social rules and regulations, and made her sympathetic. I always prefer to read a work under the understanding of where it came from, and this work of fiction came very close to being a very real event for many people living of those times.
Second, the first thing that came to my mind was Oscar Wilde's speech on his deathbed (perhaps apocryphal). He saw the ugly purple wallpaper on the wall next to his deathbed, made the pronouncement, "Either this wallpaper goes, or I go!" And so he died. Death by wallpaper. Could this story have influenced so many writers of the time-period, perhaps making their own slight twists and turns and telling their big ideas through this medium? Perhaps.
Third, I'm a man; but this story sure got me off into a big kick of feminism literature that I quite enjoyed and am sorry to see is no longer even slightly in vogue in literature, except for a good deal of sci-fi and fantasy. From what I've seen, strong women are a thing of the distant past in YA novels, modern traditional fiction, and especially Romance novels. If anyone could direct me to the lost ideal of equality between the sexes, please let me know.

I always liked this story, and it allowed me to flex my imagination and enjoy the surrealism of the literature of the day in a way a little more accessible than others of the type that I just couldn't get into as much.

Sure, it was a mindfuq; but put into perspective, this novellete can give a great deal of meaning to women and how their perceptions of themselves change over time, reacting to past mistakes, past preconceptions, and as a cross-gender analysis, I have to say that anyone can be caught up in social roles and feel as trapped as our crazy protagonist. It's not just women who need to gain a measure of self-awareness and the necessity to say, Enough is Enough Already!