Outer characterisation

In “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, John is the narrator’s husband. He is a “physician” (p. 3, l. 15) who works in town and is often out tending patients. It is also suggested he also has a child with his wife – the baby is in the care of a woman named Mary.

The fact that he is repairing his house but unwilling to improve the rented mansion suggests that he is probably middle-class and cannot afford to make too many investments at the same time: “… ‘and really, dear, I don't care to renovate the house just for a three months' rental.’ ” (p. 6, ll. 11-12).

Inner characterisation

John’s traits are mostly revealed in connection to his wife. After the birth of their child, his wife suffers from a depression which he diagnoses as “temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency” (p. 3, ll. 22-23). He decides to treat it according to his own diagnosis and methods as a physician, suggesting his self-confidence and controlling attitude. He decides what she should do and what medicine she should take: “…tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to ‘work’ until I am well again.” (p. 3, ll. 27-28)

His controlling attitude is also suggested by the fact that he constantly treats the narrator like a child, patronising her, giving her pet names, and minimising her pro...

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