The Yellow Wallpaper

How would you describe the narrator’s husband?

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The husband of the narrator, John is a practical physician who believes that his wife is suffering from nothing more than a “slight hysterical tendency.” He prescribes the “rest cure,” confining the narrator to the nursery and forbidding her to exercise her creative imagination in any way. His antagonism toward her imagination stems from his own rationality and personal anxiety about creativity; he scoffs openly at the narrator’s fancies and is incapable of understanding her true nature. Throughout the story, he treats her in an infantile manner, referring to her as his “blessed little goose” and “little girl.” Moreover, when the narrator attempts to discuss her unhappiness with the situation in a mature manner, he refuses to accept her as an equal and simply carries her back up to the nursery for more bed rest. He is fixed in his authoritative position as husband and doctor and cannot adapt his strategy to account for her opinion on the matter. He believes in a strict, paternalistic divide between men and women; men work outside of the home, as he does, while women like Jennie, his sister, and Mary, the nanny, tend to the house.