“The Yellow Wallpaper” was written early in Gilman’s career, and is today the work for which she is best known. It is based on her own experience with the procedures for “rest cures” practiced by the famous Dr. S. Weir Mitchell. (The narrator has a young daughter, as Gilman herself did at the time of her breakdown, and Gilman had herself been subjected to Mitchell’s cure. Edith Wharton had also seen Dr. Mitchell as a patient.)
The point of view of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is first person, with the narrator sometimes describing things in the present tense—such as her observations about what her writing is doing to her, or about the condition of her room and the grounds around the house—and sometimes shifting into the past tense. The circumstances of the narration are that the narrator writes each episode of the story at a single sitting (see, for example, paragraphs 107–162), and then hides the material, taking up her writing again only at a later time.