Throughout the short story, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, we see a woman handicapped by depression and mental illness. We see how the narrator and John interact as husband and wife and as doctor and patient. From the surface, it seems as if John is a kind-hearted man wanting what is best for his wife, and willing to do whatever it takes to make her better again. But as the reader looks closer and the story progresses, John becomes more of a handicap to his wife than the illness itself. Gilman uses John's detriment to Charlotte as a way to describe the gender roles, professional and medial, in the nineteenth century. She uses this parallelism as a way to break the patriarchal society's oppression on women and the idea of women's only role being in the household.
John is a controlling man, believing he knows everything that is good for his wife. The narrator talks about how she "has a schedule prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all care from me," this shows that John controls her every minute. He sets a time for her rest, her exercise, when she will eat, when she can read; he plans it all out for her (Gilman 4). This complete control parallels to the male population's idea that women of the time could not make wise simple decisions for themselves. Gilman takes John's schedule for Charlotte and uses it to represent men's desire for control over women as a way to help them with their mental fragility. Men of the time made the false assumption that women were unable to handle simple daily tasks. John believed his precise agenda for his wife would remove any unneeded stress on her by planning all her moves for her. This strict timeline shows her slow removal of choice over her life enforced by her husband's doing. We see the long term effects when she begins to speak of her inability to think clearly for herself anymore. This action by John had good intentions, but was essentially degrading to Charlotte's freedom and well being, much like the other women of the time.
Her husband treats her like she is incompetent, almost like a child. When the narrator got tired, "dear John gathered [her] up in his arms, and just carried [her] upstairs and laid [her] on the bed," showing how he believes she can't do anything for herself (Gilman 6). Like when a child falls asleep on the couch, and the parent takes it to their room, so John does the same thing for his wife. Many times, John restricted his wife on the physical movements she could complete. As her doctor, he insisted she not strain herself with unneeded tasks. She was no longer allowed to preform her passion of writing, take walks in the garden, or be with her newborn son for too long. Activities that gave her joy were no longer acceptable to John's standards. This all knowing attitude of male roles over women show to be ways of restriction on the female capacity in a society dominated by men.
Specifically looking at John's removal of Charlotte's writing, we see the...