What conflicting emotions does she have towards her husband in "The Yellow Wallpaper"?

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

John, who is the husband of the main character of "The Yellow Wallpaper" is doing what he feels is correct for his wife: to take the rest cure, to keep her isolated, and to avoid any sort of mental stimulus that may disrupt her.

This being said, it is clear from the text that the main character is aware of this as well. She does admit that John is trying to do what he feels is the best that he can do for her, but she also has the conflicting feeling of knowing that a man, John or any other to that effect, cannot possibly know what women go through.

If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression--a slight hysterical tendency--what is one to do?

She also admits to being basically helpless since the opinion of two men far outweigh the opinion that she has of her own issues. She keeps saying the words "what is one to do?" asking herself what route could she possibly take to change her situation.


Personally, I disagree with their ideas.Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do?

Despite of being told otherwise, our main character decides to keep a journal because she believes that she knows that a little bit of spacing and entertainment will do her good. This is another conflicting emotion: she cannot speak up for herself, apparently.

Moreover, she feels like she is the problem. She admires her husband's "serious" cases and his willingness to help, but she feels herself to be a huge weight on his shoulders.

I meant to be such a help to John, such a real rest and comfort, and here I am a comparative burden already!

.... I would not be so silly as to make him uncomfortable just for a whim.

Therefore, the overall conflicting emotion that our narrator feels is that she understands her problem but cannot bypass her husband's choices for her. Also, that she does not want to add to the problem by becoming problematic; she feels guilty enough already. All of these issues make her snap at the end and go into a temporary psychosis.

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The Yellow Wallpaper

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