Charlotte Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper, is a story that exemplifies the common belief, during the 1800's, which held that women were too weak to handle stress and as a result, often collapsed under it. In the 1800's society would frown upon women who did anything besides cleaning house and raising children; a woman was meant to be a housewife and a mother, nothing else. If, however, a woman fell victim to a nervous breakdown it was believed to be Hysteria, and the only remedy was shutting her up inside her home, S. Weir Mitchell's rest cure. It is obvious in this short story that Gilman's view of this style of treatment only worsened things. The Yellow Wallpaper is a fictitious account of a time when Gilman herself suffered a nervous breakdown. Her husband, solitude, and her hallucinations drove her to disconnect from reality. The story is written from the character's point of view in a form resembling journal entries, which describe her stay in the house. The house itself is an old mansion, and the yellow wallpaper in the character's bedroom seems to be really disturbing. She believes that there is a woman locked behind bars living in the pattern of that wallpaper. She spends a lot of time trying to figure it out, and in the end she completely breaks away even from her own mind. The theme in The Yellow Wallpaper describes the struggle of women to live in a male-dominated society.
The narrator's husband is the first and main element that drove her to disconnect form reality. Although her husband is well intentioned, John takes away what little power she has by regulating everything she does. The narrator is presumed to be weak and unable to cope with normal activities. It is important to note that, the narrator, being the one for whom the vacation is taken, is not allowed to do what she wants. John believes that he has her best interest at heart and forbids her to work. The narrator disagrees, and believes that, "congenial work, with excitement and change would do me good" (159).