There is no equal partnership in the marriage. The husband holds all the power. He treats his wife like a child and will not allow her to do anything. He calls her his "little girl" and simply dismisses the idea that doing nothing at all is healthy. This, in turn, forces her to become child-like, by examining the wallpaper and finally imagining she is a character trying to get out of the wallpaper. Because the wife is so dependent upon her husband, the author is pointing out the ways women were treated as second-class citizens in the ninetheenth century.