Three Victorian era writers illustrate the submissive role of women in society through their literary storylines. From a depressed narrator to an obsessive governess, the dominant role of the male race influences their way of living in society. As the wife in The Yellow Wallpaper, approved activity is limited by her preoccupied physician/husband. Adultery actions by Mrs. Pontellier, in The Awakening, are caused by her husband's demanding drive for perfection towards her. Also, in The Turn of the Screw, the governess allows her affection for her "master" lead her into a state of insanity. The issues of overriding demands and actions from men create a mood of unhappiness through different ways in each story. .
In the beginning of Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper, the "nameless" female narrator begins to explain her nervous depression and how it is being treated by her husband and her brother. Being a character without a name explains her importance in life as a woman. The "high standing" physicians are unable to see that there is more to her condition than just a stress and depression and prescribe for her rest as a cure (1). The narrator is taken to a summer house to recover form her condition where she is not allowed to do anything but rest and sleep. The main cause of the narrator's mental condition is her overbearing husband who smothers her emotional and imaginative impulses and forces her to concentrate on the objects that surround her. Furthermore, this inactivity pushes her deeper into madness. John imprisons her in a room that has no escape with bars on the windows and immovable bed which is "nailed down" (6). But the narrator is not just a prison of this room; she is a prison of her marriage. Her developing insanity is a form of rebellion and a way to gain her own independence. Her struggle to set the woman in the wallpaper free symbolized her fight for independence away from her husband.