A person's individuality is one of their most important characteristics. Individuality makes people special and when appreciated builds self-worth. Everyone has their own unique traits they bring about. In order to be happy and successful in life, one must use their traits as effectively and creatively as possible and be recognized for their individuality and abilities.
In the 19th century it was not an unlikely occurrence for women to be held back by men. The main character in The Yellow Wallpaper is being subjected to this type of oppression. Charlotte Perkins Gilman's novel graphically illustrates this oppression. The main characters inability to be recognized as an individual is the root of her inability to maintain her sanity throughout the book. As her state of mind worsens, she relates the wallpaper in her room to her struggles. She describes the wallpaper as consisting of "lame uncertain curves" that "suddenly commit suicide-plunge off at outrageous angles, destroying themselves in unheard of contradictions" (Gilman 31). This describes how her efforts in controlling her life also follow this same pattern. These patterns are representative of her and her methods of dealing with society.
Throughout the book, she is seeking and receiving advice from those around her instead of making up her own mind. John, for example, has told her, "the very worst thing I can do is think about my condition" (Gilman 32). She does not use her own mind and free will to think about this at all but takes his words for face value and obeys. She then asks John to re-paper the room, instead of handling this issue herself. Even when John tells her no, she passively accepts his decision, which is a failure on her part to exert her own will. Since she is still trying to please her husband she puts aside her irritation caused by the wallpaper and attempts to focus on the world outside her window.
She is not able to keep her focus on the outside