The protagonist of The Yellow Wallpaper is the narrator, who is driven to insanity by her husband’s attempt to treat her depression as “nervous depression.” The story focuses on her deteriorating mental health and her increasing fixation with the “yellow wallpaper” she spends most of her time staring at. She spends so much time in the room that she starts to see a female figure trapped in the tattered yellow wallpaper. This woman could be a hallucination or a representation of the narrator’s inner self yearning for freedom. This story is about how women in those days could be easily oppressed by society. She tries to excuse her husband to herself, demonstrating the nature of the conflict being an internal one. The narrator’s husband is in control of her, both physically and mentally. This story brings to light the journey of a housewife from her subordination in marriage to madness caused by captivity and isolation. The character’s internal conflict is due to gender oppression, which shapes her thoughts and actions. Even though it was not obvious in the beginning, Gilman has good intentions for portraying the narrator as the victim. She battles with herself, mainly because of her own condition. She also blames John as one of the main reasons for her not being well. John keeps her isolated, for example, by not allowing her to write out her thoughts. The struggle between the narrator and her husband, who is also her doctor, over the treatment and nature of her illness leads to a conflict within the narrator’s mind. The gender discrimination in the story reflects the result of John’s behavior towards the narrator. As she continues to comprehend her own powerlessness she then becomes aware of her desire to take control. As a “monster” in society, not only is she having an internal and external battle; while also having a constant battle with society. At one point in the story, she has a moment of realization. “You see I have something more to expect, to look forward to, to watch. I really do eat better and am more quiet than I was… I turned it off with a laugh. I had no intention of telling him it was because of the wall paper — he would make fun of me. He might even want to take me away.” All of these events lead up to the narrator recognizing herself as the woman behind the wallpaper. The woman behind the wallpaper is a symbol for all women struggling with internal conflict.
We can do it today.