The woman behind the wallpaper in Gilman’s short story represents the identity of the narrator. For the story, she falls into madness and seeks an escape. That’s why she identifies with the woman who she thinks is kept behind the yellow wallpaper.
The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story written by iconic American writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It was first published in 1892 in The New England Magazine. It is known as a pioneering piece raising a discussion over feminism and the mental health of women.
So the story draws a picture of a couple renting an old mansion for the summer. John, the husband and a physician believes his wife – the narrator – needs rest to cure her nervous depression. He isolates her and doesn’t allow her to do anything. The wife soon starts seeing a woman hidden behind the yellow wallpaper that she first hated. At the end of the story, she loses her mind and believes she is the woman she seeks freedom from the wallpapers. She cries: “I’ve got out at last.”
So the story shows the gap between its female and male characters. John has no idea how to treat her condition. His vision doesn’t work and causes his wife’s insanity. That’s how Gilman criticizes the male dominance of the medical profession, typical of the XIX century. Her madness gives her a perspective of seeing herself in the specific situation and the patriarchal system.