What do you think of the behavior of John in this story? Is he really as concerned about his wife's well-being as he says he is?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a good question!  There is much in the story to suggest that John is not the husband of the year, even on the first page, where we are told, "John laughs at me..."(675), showing a husband inclined to disrespect his wife.

We get another clue shortly after when, although he is described as very careful and loving, we learn he "hardly lets me stir without some special direction" (676). This is more suggestive of control than of love.

When the wife falls apart, he picks her up, takes her upstairs, and puts her to bed like a child. He refers to her as "little girl" (681).

Significantly, he never accedes to any of his wife's requests, to remove the wallpaper, to be allowed to visit her cousins, to write, or to do anything that his wife believes would make her feel better. 

The husband also makes arrangements for all household responsibilities, including mothering, to be taken out of the wife's hands. 

When we look at the big picture, John comes across as someone who is not interested in an adult partner for a wife, but in having a child he can control. 

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The Yellow Wallpaper

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