How would you characterize the narrator in the story "The Yellow Wallpaper"?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator, who is never directly named, is a wife, a new mother, and is under the care of several people--her doctor (also her husband), sister, and others in the house.  She has been isolated from friends in the country, and isolated from any mental stimulation in order to recover from her post-partum depression (of course, when the story was written, there was no name for this condition).   She does secretly keep a wonders how differently the story would have ended had she been allowed to get out of the yellow room and engage in conversations, writing, reading, and other intellectual pursuits.  She is bored and restless, and entertains herself with the idea of a prisoner behind the wallpaper, who turns out to be herself as well as a representation of other women in her same situation.  This story is screaming of the position of women in the 19th and early 20th centuries--think "Leave it to Beaver" and "Happy Days" where women stayed at home all day, cleaned house in dresses, heels, and pearls and they made sure that dinner was ready and that they looked great when their tired husbands who worked all day came home.  Women were not considered to be intelligent creatures, nor were they listened to by their doctors when they gave symptoms for which there were no physical evidence.  Post partum depression and other depressions were only part of the reason they considered women to be overly emotional beings.

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The Yellow Wallpaper

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