Evaluate the presentation of marriage as it is presented in "The Yellow Wallpaper."

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is clear that throughout this excellent short story exploring post-partum depression that the husband of the narrator, although he does genuinely love his wife, feels that it is he and he alone who knows what is best for her and constantly overrides any opinion that she may have concerning her needs or how her treatment is going. Note what the narrator tells us:

It is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so wise, and because he loves me so.

When she tries, he responds by saying about his opinion, "I am a doctor, my dear, and I know." When she insists on contradicting him by suggesting that although she may be better physically, she is worse mentally, note how he cuts her off:

"My darling," said he, "I beg you, for my sake and for our child's sake, as well as for your own, that you will never for one instant let that idea enter your mind! There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a temperament like yours. It is a false and foolish fancy. Can you not trust me as a physician when I tell you so?"

Thus it is that he effectively silences his wife. It is his arrogance and belief that he knows what his best for his wife, better than her, that leads to her continued descent into madness, and her own supreme identification with the woman who is trapped in the yellow wallpaper that she obsesses over. Thus it is a marriage characterised by complete dominance on one part and a tremendous arrogance.

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The Yellow Wallpaper

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