What does the narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper" mean when she says, "Better in body perhaps"? What is she trying to tell her husband? How does he respond to this? What does this interaction show the reader about the narrator’s mental state? Use evidence to support your response.

When she says "Better in body perhaps," the narrator means that she may be physically healthy but that she does not feel mentally or emotionally healthy. She tries to convince her husband that her "treatment" is not working, and she makes some suggestions as to the types of activities that would help. He responds by imploring her to not indulge in imaginary illnesses.

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The narrator's husband and doctor, John, tries to assure the narrator that her health is improving, that she is gaining a little weight and some color in her skin. However, the narrator really seems to disagree with him. She claims that her appetite is actually worse when he is away, which he often is. When he says that she is better, her response indicates that she does not feel that her mental health, as we would call it, is improving.

She says that she might be "Better in body perhaps," apparently contrasting her physical with her mental or emotional state. It sounds as though the rest of her thought is that these aspects of her health are not improving. She is trying to tell her husband that the "treatment" she is receiving—the "perfect rest" upon which he insists—is not working. He continues to insist that she is in control of her illness, that it is only real in her head, and that she can simply make a choice to feel well. He has already said that "she shall be as sick as she pleases!" John does not take her illness seriously, nor does he believe that she is actually sick, because he can find no physical or visual sign of it. This interaction shows us that the narrator is very aware of the inefficacy of the "treatment" and that she realizes that her mental state is deteriorating as a result of it.

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