What does this quote from "The Yellow Wallpaper" mean, " John is a physician... perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster. " ?

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mattbuckley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a story of a woman as she descends into a mixed madness due to her stifling environment. The reason that the narrator mentions that her husband is a physician and then suggests that this may have something to do with the fact that she is not getting better at a quicker rate, is because it is her husband that is truly causing her to get worse. As a physician, he is focused on her physical health, and physically there seems to be nothing wrong with her. She states, "You see, he does not believe I am sick!". This is due to the fact that she is not physically but mentally ill. His prescribed rest cure is counterproductive for a mental illness. This is written as a work of feminism literature. Her restricted life in the story results in the horrifying ending.

michuraisin | Student

The reason the narrator suggests John (her husband) being a physician is a reason she isn't getting better faster is because as a physician, John focuses on the physical. The narrator's problem is mental, as she suffers from a sort of depression following the birth of her child. Therefore, John doesn't see a real problem, and assumes she is making up an illness in her head. To combat this illness, he prescribes a rest cure.

For the rest cure, John wants her to do exactly as the name suggests and rest. This means no reading or writing, which are things that stimulate the mind and John feels are harmful to women. He wants her to be restricted in her activity as a way of controlling her behavior. The problem in this is that the narrator is someone of great imagination and a dynamic mind. Rather than doing nothing, she is someone who wants to write and express her thoughts. In order to do this, she writes secretly, and as she writes, we the readers can see the deterioration of her sanity as a result of the rest cure. John doesn't understand this and by preventing his wife from having an active mind like she needs to, he is stunting her recovery.

To understand this book, it's also important to understand the context. The Yellow Wallpaperwas written in 1892, a time at which women were seen as somewhat subordinate to men. They were supposed to be more of a moral authority, rather than people who were supposed to read, write, think, or have an active role in society. This is present in the novella, as John prevents the narrator from doing anything that could be considered intellectual significant, and has such control and power over her life.

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The Yellow Wallpaper

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