Presented in the first person, the story is a collection of journal entries written by a woman whose physician husband (John) has rented an old mansion for the summer and the couple moves into the upstairs nursery. As a form of treatment, she is forbidden from working, but encouraged to eat well and get plenty of exercise and air, so she can recuperate from what he calls a temporary nervous depression - a slight hysterical tendency, a diagnosis common to women in that period. She hides her journal from her husband and his sister the housekeeper, fearful of being reproached for overworking herself. With nothing to stimulate her, she becomes obsessed by the pattern and color of the wallpaper, descending slowly into psychosis.
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