Jane, the narrator and her husband John have rented an old house out in the country for the summer to help her recover from a recent illness. Her doctor decided that her illness is caused by to much stress in her life and forbids her from doing any work and especially writing. Her husband basically locks her into what he says used to be a nursery a long time ago. In the room there is yellow wallpaper with odd designs covering the walls and a bed nailed to the floor and bars on the windows. John's sister named Jennie takes over the position of housekeeper while the husband is away at work during the day.
Jane becomes very interested in the yellow wallpaper which she decides to try and figure out the pattern to but is unsuccessful. She then decides that there is a woman who is trapped inside of the wallpaper and needs to get out.
She believes the woman to be crawling and scratching away at the wallpaper like she is trapped. One night she can clearly see the woman stuck behind the bars and desperately wanting to escape. Jane troubles over the decision to tell her husband about the woman that she is mysteriously seeing in the wallpaper. Then one day Jane starts to feel paranoid that her husband and Jennie are also interested in the wallpaper and are just not telling her.
Jane's health improves as she becomes more interested in the wallpaper. Bye this point she has almost become obsessed with the woman and the wallpaper. Then one night she sees the woman shaking the bars trying to get out and the heads of the strangled woman hanging and entangled in the wallpaper. She feels that these must be the heads of other women...