The Yellow Wallpaper

Several times at the beginning of the story, the narrator says such things as “What is one to do?” and “What can we do?” What do these comments refer to? What, if anything, do they suggest about women’s roles at the time the story was written?


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The narrator desperately wants to please her husband and assume her role as an ideal mother and wife, but she is unable to balance her husband’s needs with her desire to express her creativity. There is a sense of resignation that the woman feels in the face of patriarchal control. She questions what else there is to do but it is rhetorical. The only thing she can do is to obey her husbands "advice". Such was the plight of many women during this time period.