The narrator of the story is a nameless woman. She personifies female weakness and submission in a patriarchal society. In this short story, a woman was diagnosed with a mental disease and treated at home by her husband. She has been locked in a room for three months.
The Yellow Wallpaper is a series of diary notes. A young woman wrote them during her three months stay in a countryside mansion. The narrator’s name does not appear in the story. Her husband, John, is a successful doctor with a high position in society. He brings her there to improve her health for the summer. John is guided by the rules of the so-called “Rest Cure” developed by Dr. S. Mitchell.
The man deprives his wife of all the activities. Society, books, and work are not available for her at all. He leaves her alone in a room covered with yellow wallpaper for a long time. She disagrees with her husband and keeps a secret diary. The woman describes everything she sees and feels in it. Her husband, as a doctor, has authority and power. He symbolizes the patriarchal order and lack of women’s control over their lives. It disciplines the female body with various rules and practices.
The story explores doctors’ attitudes towards women and mental illness in the late 19th century. Women were considered weak and nervous. The medical community largely ignored real mental illness and issues such as postpartum depression. Gilman became an icon of feminism. In her story, the author explores various vital issues which are sensitive to women. Mental illness is one of the central topics. The place of women in marriage and medicine, the importance of emotional expression, and free thought are also critical in the story.