Doctor Knows Best

Doctor Knows Best Often human illness calls for medical attention to acquire both soundness of body and mind. Opinions from medical professionals are sought after by those individuals seeking reassurance and peace of mind in knowing they will receive the best possible treatment. In her short story The Yellow Wallpaper, Charlotte Perkins Gilman presents a situation where a respected professional, medical opinion contradicts those thoughts and desires of the patient. The wife, and narrator, in the story suffers a long-drawn depression following the birth of her daughter. In an attempt to remedy her ailment, the character John, a physician as well as the narrators husband, prescribes rest and isolation as the cure for his wifes mental illness. It is apparent by the end of the story that such treatment not only failed to cure his wifes disorder, but further intensified her unstable condition. Many scholars offer other underlying explanations in exploring the narrators sickness. Leslie Fishbein, in her review To Herland and Beyond: The Life and Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, points out that the narrators ailment is credited to a domestic role that ill fit her character and talents (1116). On the other hand, it was the fact that John ignored the narrators personal desires that ultimately led to her severe paranoia and depression. The wife is aware of aspects in her life that, given individual freedom from her husband, would aid in her recovery. The narrator believes that congenial work, with Turner 2 excitement and change, would do [her] good. She then questions her ideas, But what is one to do? (404). The wife refers to the fact that both John and her brother are physicians and their professional opinion, in the eyes of society, must be regarded above all. The narrator again takes a stand with her personal view of achieving wellness. If I had less opposition a…

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