The protagonist of The Yellow Wallpaper spends a summer in a former nursery in a mansion. Her husband, a physician, confines her in the place. It is a part of a rest cure for “temporary nervous depression” after childbirth. This treatment drives her insane. Nothing and nobody seems to relax and support her.
The Yellow Wallpaper follows the perspective of its nameless protagonist. She is a physician’s wife, who recently gave childbirth. Like many women in her time, she suffers from “hysterical” tendencies. Her husband prescribed the woman a “rest cure.” It involves enforced bed rest, isolation, and a meat-rich diet. To support this course of treatment, her husband rents an old colonial mansion for the summer. He compels her to stay in the former nursery.
The protagonist finds the mansion lovely from the start. She sees it as a mysterious Gothic setting. She thinks about how they were able to rent it so cheap. It seems troubling, but a simple explanation presents itself. Because of inheritance disputes, the mansion slowly decayed. Its rundown state creates potent imagery in the story. It resonates with the protagonist’s own emotional and mental state under neglect and abuse.
The importance of the colonial mansion to the story is not just about the surface. It is a symbolic sample of the domestic state. Men believed it to be necessary for women. Her husband confines the woman in the mansion because of her physical and mental weakness. Monotony and isolation intensify the protagonist’s health problems, not solve them. It is a cruel and archaic structure that is not effective. It shows the absurdity of trying to keep the wife there for her good.