In her short story "The Yellow Wallpaper," Charlotte Perkins Gilman symbolically portrays women's treatment and confinement by men in the nineteenth century. Gilman wrote the account more than one hundred years ago, driven directly by her own personal experiences of having to face the male-dominated society she lived in.
The female narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is suffering from a "temporary nervous condition," which is essentially depression. Right in the beginning, she states, "John [her husband] is a physician, and perhaps - (I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is a dead paper and a great relief to my mind) - perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster." The narrator sets up the story to convey a certain opinion of the repressions that a woman faces in the care of a man. When the narrator tries to tell her husband how she feels, he quickly hushes her and assures her that his prescription of rest is all she needs.
In disagreement, she states, "I believe congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good," and attempts to convince her husband that the current treatment is not working. Instead of helping her, John cajoles her into silence and tells her to go to sleep. His blatant dismissal of the woman's opinion doesn't appear uncaring on his part in particular, but simply a representative demonstration of society's view on women as a whole.
Throughout the story, the narrator states her intentions, but subsequently does not act upon them because of her husband. She does not have any power or authority to do what she believes is best for her. This is further shown when she speaks of her husband and her brother as being "of high standing," and when...