What's the message of "The Yellow Wallpaper"?

The message of “The Yellow Wallpaper” is that women should be empowered with regard to their marriages, health, and lives. The narrator is denied a voice in her own health management, and this patriarchal dismissal creates a desperation with manifests itself in psychotic episodes.

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There are at least a couple of equally important messages in "The Yellow Wallpaper," but one key takeaway is that women deserve a voice in their marriages and particularly in matters involving their own health.

The narrator of this story most likely suffers from postpartum depression (which likely...

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There are at least a couple of equally important messages in "The Yellow Wallpaper," but one key takeaway is that women deserve a voice in their marriages and particularly in matters involving their own health.

The narrator of this story most likely suffers from postpartum depression (which likely evolves into psychosis). Early in the story, we learn that her husband does not believe she is sick, and her brother agrees that she simply has a "temporary nervous depression." Her opinions trivialized by the men in her life, the narrator submits to their phosphates and tonics and is "forbidden" to work until she is better.

She doesn't believe this is the right path to healing. In fact, she states,

Personally, I disagree with their ideas.

Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.

The men don't listen, and she is locked away in the top floor of her home in nearly solitary confinement. From her windows, she observes the natural beauty her soul craves. Yet her husband again disagrees with her longing to return to the peace outside her house:

John has cautioned me not to give way to fancy in the least. He says that with my imaginative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies, and that I ought to use my will and good sense to check the tendency. So I try.

Meeting dismissal at every turn, the narrator longs to write. She believes that if she could simply turn to writing, it would "relieve the press of ideas" which rise within her. And again, her husband forbids it.

The narrator thus spirals into a mental decline. Because John believes himself more capable than his wife of assessing and treating her health concerns, the narrator's sense of entrapment destroys her mental faculties. Denied a voice, the narrator begins fixating on freeing an imagined woman living in the wallpaper of her room, which is seemingly her only means of exerting some control in her own life.

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