Topic: Jane’s decent into madness has a name: John
1. Quote: “John is a physician, and perhaps-(I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this is good paper and a great relief to my mind-) perhaps that is one reason I do not get well faster. You see he does not believe I am sick!
Paraphrase: “John is a physician .....he does not believe I am sick!”
Commentary: Her husband John is a doctor and believes that the “rest cure “is what his wife needs to get over her nervous condition. Because her husband is a respected physician Jane believes that he must know better than she does how to treat her nervousness even though she thinks the rest cure may do her more harm than good.
2. Quote: “personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do?”
Paraphrase: “I disagree with their ideas.... But what is one to do?”
Commentary: The narrator describes the complete submission Jane gives to his male authority. Jane feels helpless to express her feelings and her desires to her husband. She follows him with a childlike obedience, even though she obviously disagrees with him about her care. The other man she disagrees with is her brother who is also a doctor so not only does she have to fight her husband she has to fight her brother as well and it is obviously too overwhelming to even try for poor Jane. Jane calls them both a “physician of high standing”. That is simply too much authority for Jane to even attempt overcome.
3. Quote: “It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby! And yet I cannot be with him, it makes me so nervous”.
Commentary: Mary and the baby don't even live in the same house with Jane and her husband. It is clear that Jane has postpartum depression. Of course it is only clear because we have the benefit of hindsight and 21st century medicine. If Jane had her baby to take care of she may have been able to keep her mind because somebody was dependent on her.
4. Quote: “And dear John gathered me up in his arms, and just carried me upstairs and laid me on the bed, and sat by me and read to me till it tired my head”.
Paraphrase: “John Kerry to me upstairs and laid me on the bed”
Commentary: John is treating his wife as if she was a child. When he is home he is patronizing and constantly dismisses her concern for her own care and well-being. He expects her to blindly trust him that he knows exactly what to do for her because she is a simple child and he is, after all a man, therefore in charge. John is so selfish, arrogant and self absorbed he doesn't even understand that he is the one driving his wife into madness.
5. Quote: “Of course I didn't do a thing. Jennie sees to everything now”.
Commentary:Jennie is John's sister and she manages the household. Jennie has taken over the role meant for Jane. She keeps the house running smoothly and she unquestioningly carries out all of John's orders. Even though she can clearly see that Jane is not doing well she continues to follow John's orders blindly until it is too late for poor Jane and she is too far into her descent into madness.
6. Quote: “I lie here on this great immovable bed-it is nailed down, I believe-and follow that pattern about by the hour.”
Paraphrase: “I lie here.... And follow that pattern about by the hour”
Commentary: the yellow wallpaper pattern resembles bars in a jail and Jane feels she is being held prisoner by them. Jane puts all of her fear and anger into the yellow wallpaper and comes out feeling helpless and lonely. Because she has been without human contact and intellectual stimulation for so long she creates her own world where she has control of something, a world inside the yellow wallpaper. In the yellow wallpaper world women are held captive and they wait and wait to be freed.
7. Quote: “There's one comfort, the baby is well and happy, and does not have to occupy this nursery with the horrid wallpaper. If we had not used it, that blessed child would have! What a fortunate escape!”
Paraphrase: “the baby does not have to occupy the nursery what a fortunate escape”
Commentary: Jane is being a martyr for her child now understanding her death must be close. She would rather die herself than to harm her child. She loves her child enough to realize that she has gone mad and can't care for the child herself.