What does this story suggest about women's roles during the Victorian time period?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This story suggests that women were regarded almost as children, to be cared for by men, in a completely paternalistic way.  One gets the feeling that women were meant to be decorative, not functional, and a woman who could not fulfill this duty was hidden away as "the madwoman in the attic."  The woman, who is suffering from post-partum depression, is treated by her husband and doctor as though her own opinions about her condition are meaningless. The "cure" advised is isolation and a complete rest of her intellect, with no reading, no writing, and no contact with her newborn child, suggesting that women who thought too much were harming themselves.  The woman has insight into her own condition, believing that writing is therapeutic for her, but she lacks the will or the power to oppose the males.  There is also the suggestion that the mental illness of women was something not to be taken very seriously, something that continues to be true to this day. 

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The Yellow Wallpaper

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