I read this longish short story in high school or early in college and understood nothing, which is a reminder, too late for my youthful self, that we really, really don’t know as much as we think we do when we are nineteen.
Laughably, I couldn’t see how it was a feminist document and in my young male-ness, was fairly dismissive of it. And while I had read Lovecraft, I wasn’t familiar with the heritage of weird fiction that undergird his works and which also was part of Gilman’s heritage (Hoffmann, Gautier, Bierce, I would include).
Now it is all obvious. As is the combined horror of suffocating paternalism and… the occult? I don’t know. What did John see that made him faint when he finally entered the room?