The narrator’s outer characterisation in “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman reveals that she is married to a physician named John (p. 3, l. 5) and that they are probably middle class as they would not normally be able to afford to rent a mansion for a whole summer: “It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer.” (p. 3, ll. 1-2)
The narrator has recently given birth, and she is diagnosed with depression by her husband: “If a physician of high standing, and one's own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency – what is one to do?” (p. 3, ll. 20-23). She has a sister-in-law who is staying with them, but also a mother (p. 8, l. 6) and some cousins (p. 6, l. 37) mentioned occasionally in the story.
We do not know what the narrator looks like, but the story suggests she is frail because she is not gaining any weight: “ ‘I don't weigh a bit more,’ said I, ‘nor as much; and my appetite may be better…’ ” (p. 11, l.1).
First of all, the narrator probably suffers from post-partum depression as we know that she had a child she cannot see (p. 6, ll. 4-5) and that her husband has diagnosed her with “temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency” (p. 3, ll. 22-23).
Throughout most of the story, the narrator comes across as rather submissive to the ideas of the men in her life - her husband and her brother, who is also a physician. For example, she feels sick but she cannot contra...