Discuss the importance of writing in the woman's life in Gilman's short story "The Yellow Wallpaper."

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The narrator of the story enjoys writing, and she is willing to disobey her husband and brother—both doctors—in order to engage in this activity. She says,

I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal—having to be so sly about it,...

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The narrator of the story enjoys writing, and she is willing to disobey her husband and brother—both doctors—in order to engage in this activity. She says,

I did write for a while in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal—having to be so sly about it, or else meet with heavy opposition.

She is not exhausted by the writing itself but, rather, as a result of having to hide the fact that she is writing or having to defend her choice to write, despite her doctors' advice (or orders). After the first day in the strange new house, the narrator doesn't write for about two weeks; one could argue that she doesn't "[feel] like writing" because she is actually becoming more depressed as a result of being locked up and treated like a child. Now, though, she has realized that "there is nothing to hinder [her] writing as much as [she] please[s], save lack of strength." She also thinks that if she were "well enough to write a little it would relieve the press of ideas" and allow her to rest more comfortably. She must continue to hide her writing, however, from John's sister, who "thinks it is the writing which made" the narrator sick.

The narrator believes that writing makes her feel better, that it is a sign of her strength, but everyone else tries to discount her feelings, believing the opposite, no matter what she tells them. If the narrator were trusted or believed when she says that she wants to write, to see people, to have any kind of interaction with the world outside her room, then perhaps she would not descend into the madness that eventually overtakes her. Her writing is a symbol of her autonomy, something she is denied by others and can only exercise secretly until, eventually, it disappears completely.

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