The Yellow Wallpaper
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is a short story about a women suffering from postpartum depression. This story reflects the period of late 1800's when women were expected to play the role of mothers and wives only. Women were supposed to spend their life to domestic part of world such as taking care of children and house. The late 1800's era was a male dominating era. Women couldn't defend those ideas or views which were against men. In this story, John and the narrator represent the society of late 1800. John is a doctor, but his nature is a male dominant nature therefore he doesn't want to understand the situation and feelings of his wife. He thinks that whatever decision he is taking about his wife is correct because in his opinion his wife is senseless or silly. Throughout this story, the narrator wants to convey the message that how male dominant American society during the late 1800's denied the rights of women.
With that in mind, Gilman presents this story about a husband and wife. John, husband of the narrator, loves his wife and he believes that his wife is suffering from hysterical tendency. Therefore, he recommends his wife a complete bed rest. John believes that whatever he is doing for his wife is good for her. But, he was incapable of understanding his wife feelings because of his male dominant nature. The narrator, John's wife, tried many times to talk with John about her illness but John refused to accept her opinion. John asked her wife to forbid all work which requires thinking like writing or creative activity.
John hired a summer house for a vacation so that her wife will recover soon from illness. But, the narrator didn't like the house because the house had been empty for a long time. The narrator asked John to change the house but John refused her proposal. Instead of that John said that this house will be good for her to recover soon because it is quiet and peaceful. This example again shows male dominant nature. Even, the narrator also said it in the beginning of the story. She mentioned, “John laugh at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.” This indicates that men of late 1800 are used to consider women as a senseless people. Therefore, men not used to respect women's wishes and ideas.
On the other hand, the narrator feels that there is nothing wrong with her except little tiredness. The narrator always tried to become a good wife and a responsible mother. Therefore, she agreed to all the wishes of her husband. The narrator thinks that some interesting work will help her to recover soon. Therefore, she started describing the mansion. While describing the whole house she stuck at the yellow wallpaper of her bedroom. She asked John to repair the room but once again John refused her wish. The narrator was unable to control her imagination. Then, she started finding some patterns in the yellow wallpaper. As the time passed on, the narrator's anxiety and depression started increasing with time. The narrator started spending more and more time in finding out the pattern in the wallpaper. Day by day, the pattern in the yellow wallpaper was getting clearer to her. Later on, the narrator finds out a figure of women in the yellow wallpaper. According to the narrator, the woman in the yellow wallpaper was trapped behind the bars. Few weeks later, the narrator conditions become worse than before. Once again, the narrator asks John that she wants to visit her relative but John does not allow her. John treated her as a little girl who doesn't know anything. Narrator says that sometimes John used to get angry with her proposal. In author's words, “he sat straight up and looked at with such a stern, reproachful look that could not say another word.” Once again, it shows that John doesn't care about the feelings of the narrator. John thinks that he is a man therefore he knows much better than her. And, this was the only reason which made the narrator condition worse and insane.
Furthermore, the narrator wanted to tell to John about the yellow wallpaper but she thought that John would get angry therefore, she didn't tell to John about her secret. The narrator had nothing to do whole day therefore she made the yellow wallpaper as her primary entertainment. As her interest in the yellow wallpaper grows, she found a woman in the wallpaper crying behind the bars. The narrator found the condition of that woman similar to her. The narrator wanted to set free that woman behind the bars. In the narrator's words, “in the very bright spots she keeps still and in the very shady spots she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard.” Day by day, the narrator was moving towards insane. She started felling yellow wallpaper smell all around the house. Few days later, John said to the narrator that they have to leave house in next two days. Next day, Jennie, John's sister, was about to strip the yellow wallpaper but the narrator said that she will do it. The narrator was feeling that John and her sister are obstacles between her and the yellow wallpaper. Next day, the narrator locks herself in the room and started stripping the wallpaper. When John broke in to the room, she said to John that she set that woman free. Watching her insanity John falls down on the floor.
Finally, she was unable to balance her husband wishes and her passion of thinking and creative working. This was all because of man dominance over a woman and the result of this was he himself made his wife situation worse. Through this story narrator has also criticized the old medical ways of treatment in which doctors did not care about the personal opinion of patients.