Women across the world often consider the grueling process of childbirth to be the hardest thing in life women have to deal with. While this may be true, the aftereffects of pregnancy are, in many ways, more traumatic than the actual process. Postpartum depression is an important psychological obstacle that women across the world have to conquer after they give birth. In The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman uses her personal battle with postpartum depression to create a powerful story shining a light on the trials women in the nineteenth century had to face while living in this misogynistic society. .
The unequal relationship between the narrator and her husband, John, symbolizes the looming gender inequity in society during this period. Gilman makes it clear that much of John's almost paternal behavior toward his wife has little to do with her illness but more to do with how she was inferior to him in this relationship. John speaks to the narrator as he would a child, calling her his "little girl" (Gilman 652) and saying things like "Bless her little heart." (Gilman 652). Instead of taking her opinion on what treatments she should take to combat her illness, John disregards her judgments, as he does in any other instance. He makes her live in a house and environment that makes her feel unhappy and lonely. Gilman uses John to portray the negative way in which people viewed women in society during that time. Known psychologists of that time created theories that "proved" that women matured slower than males and suffered from emotional instability. Many physicians, with little knowledge of the female mind and body, created complex theories arguing the pregnancy was the source of women's inferiority. .
The effects of John's misogynistic rule over the narrator is best exemplified in her response to his rest cure. Initially, the narrator attempts to fight against to the growing feeling of laziness that comes over her.