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The story follows the narrator's descent into madness after her Doctor husband confines her to the upstairs bedroom of a rented house after diagnosing female hysteria. The title refers to her growing obsession with only source of stimulation in the room. This is an early piece of American feminist literature which condemns the treatment of women by the 19th century medical establishment.
This work was transcribed as part of a proofread-a-thon at the GLAM Boot Camp, which was held at the National Archives in Washington D.C. during April 2013. Prior to that it existed as only an unsupported import from Project Gutenberg. During the proofreading process it was discovered that the previous version contained numerous errors, including a missing line of text. The current and featured version is fully supported by page scans and has been validated as matching the text of the 1901 printed edition.
IT is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer.
A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity, — but that would be asking too much of fate!
Still I will proudly declare that there is something queer about it.
Else, why should it be let so cheaply? And why have stood so long untenanted?
John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.
"For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief. Mad indeed would I be to expect it, in a case where my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet, mad am I not—and very surely do I not dream. But to-morrow I die, and to-day I would unburden my soul. My immediate purpose is to place before the world, plainly, succinctly, and without comment, a series of mere household events. In their consequences, these events have terrified—have tortured—have destroyed me. Yet I will not attempt to expound them. To me, they have presented little but horror—to many they will seem less terrible than baroques. Hereafter, perhaps, some intellect may be found which will reduce my phantasm to the commonplace—some intellect more calm, more logical, and far less excitable than my own, which will perceive, in the circumstances I detail with awe, nothing more than an ordinary succession of very natural causes and effects. " (Read on...)