The Yellow Wallpaper
Gender Roles in The Yellow Wallpaper & Trifles Compare and Contrast Essay
In many occasions, playwrights and filmmakers have portrayed marriage as an oppressive institution whereby the oppressed, the wife or the husband, responds appropriately towards the oppression.
The two texts; the short story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins and the play ‘Trifles’ by Susan Glaspell strategically illustrate this claim since they both aim at attracting the reader’s attention to the poor conditions and the mistreatment of women due to sexual inequality in the 19th century and the early 20th century respectively.
How these texts address the issue of women and their existence in society paves the way for the struggle towards women’s liberation from the oppression. The men in the stories are extremely cold when it comes to an understanding of the women, a factor that triggers the women’s defiance.
In both texts, the women stand out as weak and not able to think independently. As the paper unfolds, the two stories portray two separate wives who lived in a state of oppressive authority, forcing them to respond to the obligatory roles of that era in the same way, with atypical consequences.
Women’s Roles in The Yellow Wallpaper & Trifles
The two wives in the stories are victims of their husbands in that their husbands repress their efforts of liberating themselves and being happy.
In Perkin’s short story, the physician’s husband denies the female character the pleasure of writing. As a result, she locks her up in an upstairs room where she records her retrogressing health as she sinks deeper into neurosis. She records her experiences in a journal, which forms this short story.
The worsening health is revealed through her interactions with the yellow wallpaper hanging on the wall of the holiday house where her husband, to cure her mental illness, locks her. Glaspell’s masterwork ‘Trifles’ successfully presents the same oppressive conditions as revealed by Meenie Wright, the wife to the slain Mr. Wright.
As the other female characters; Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale, later discover, Mr. John Wright had struggled the bird that kept Meenie company, and she might have killed him as a way of getting back to him after he took away her symbol of freedom; the bird (Glaspell 46).
It is this way that women experience mistreatments from their husbands that addressed with a keen interest in the two texts.
How men viewed as portrayed in these two texts is evidence that women had little to say in such male-dominated societies. For instance, in “Trifles,” the female characters Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters do not interrogate the situation as a general crime scene as it is the case with the men.
Instead, they observe minute details that point to the exact happenings during the crime. They show solidarity and loyalty to their gender when they conceal the truth o the dead bird. That could have contributed to evidence to use in further tying Mrs. Wright to the mysterious murder of her husband. The men, on the other hand, just see nothing other than “kitchen things.”
That implies the place of the woman in a male-dominated society. These men could not see anything else rather than that what defined a woman according to them.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the physician husband thinks that he knows what is best for his wife and goes ahead to do it without thinking of the possible implications that the healing can have on her. Instead of getting better, she ends up worsening to the dismay of the husband. Despite the woman’s deteriorating mental health, she was aware of the ridicule that her husband held over her.
She says, “…I turned it off with a laugh. I had no intention of telling him it was because of the wallpaper- he would make fun of me” (Perkins 168). That was when her husband said she was getting better despite the obsession with the wallpaper. That also signals a buildup in her confidence as she prepared to tear down the wallpaper and release the woman.
The two wives in the texts are victims of unquestioned male authority in that they have to live under the mercies of their husbands.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the woman compels herself to be locked up in an upstairs room. That implicates badly on her as revealed in the short story as the only thing that is around her is no more than a disgusting yellow wallpaper that further makes her psychologically disturbed and worsens her neurosis.
To make matters worse, the husband does not let her touch any writing materials for the simple reason that she ought to rest rather than doing any other thing. Since she has no other option, she opts to sing the tune of her oppressive husband.
This misdiagnosis and a dubious treatment measure, which does not give the woman a chance to question or suggest a way that she thinks is best for her condition, symbolizes the male chauvinism that was at peak during the times when this text was written.
A similar case of male chauvinism is revealed in “Trifles” when the women discover that it is indeed the oppressive state that Meenie was subjected by her husband that led her to result in killing him as a way of liberating herself.
As the details of the crime scene reveal, it stands out that a disagreement had taken place the night before the murder occurred. The ruined fruit preserves, bread that has been left out of its box, an unfinished quilt, a half clean / half messy tabletop, an empty birdcage, and more so the dead bird indicated the wrangles that may have taken place the previous night.
It is clear from this that the husband might have killed the bird, which angered the wife, who took advantage of his sleep to slip a rope into his neck and strangling him to death.
Male coldness towards women seems well displayed in the two texts through a close analysis of the men’s behavior (Holstein 290). For instance, in the ‘Yellow Wallpaper’ story, the husband, although he is not sure of his treatment procedure, exposes his wife to it.
The procedure fails and exposes the woman into more danger as her neurosis worsens. He eventually cannot handle the results of his experiment on his wife as he faints when he opens the door to find his wife crawling on all fours. In “Trifles,” as the title suggests, the men never take women issues seriously and end up dismissing them as trifles. That can be evident through the reaction of the men to the murder of Mr. Wright.
Instead of trying to establish the real cause of the crime, they look for forensic evidence to tie Meenie to the murder of her husband. The women’s wit outweighs the men’s, which makes them succeed in hiding the direct link that could have tied their fellow women to the crime. This paper further contrasts the theme of the treatment of women as manifested in the two masterworks. For instance, the way the two wives respond towards the evident oppressing circumstance differs significantly.
The difference in the two women’s conditions manifests itself only through how they choose to deal with their respective situations. The woman in the ‘Yellow Wallpaper’ finally succeeds in freeing ‘the woman locked up in the wallpaper’ by tearing it up and finally releasing her.
As a result, she manages to free herself as well in that her husband comes to the understanding that his deeds worsened the situation rather than making it better. The fact that even the woman’s husband could not stand up to see her situation is quite ironic, considering that he acted so coldly in deciding to conceal her in the room.
On the other hand, Meenie decides to liberate herself by murdering her husband, a case that further welcomes the arm of the government that arrests her as the prime suspect, and her fate depends on the forensic evidence that the police conducts in her house.
It is not clear whether she ends up free. Still, the fact remains that she actively acts against an oppressive condition as opposed to the woman in the ‘Yellow Wallpaper’ who simply collapses under the weight of her condition.
According to Hocham, the wife in “The Yellow wallpaper” proves her point to her husband as she tramples on him when he falls down unconscious (237). That is an indication that as a woman, she finally emerges the winner. Her husband later realizes that he had committed a mistake in choosing such a harsh treatment method for her wife since she comes worse rather than her condition becoming better.
The fact that her husband becomes unconscious is proof of women emerging victorious despite their harsh treatment. On that stage, she can crawl on him, and he cannot defend himself.
Meenie, on the other hand, liberates herself from one level of male oppression and gets into another. She murders her husband, who oppressed and took away the joy that she had as a young woman before she married him only for the police to arrest and take her into custody.
Her version of the story faces a good deal of ridicule by the male investigators who have no space in their thinking of the possibility of there being another version of the story. That portrays the woman as only a victim in the male-dominated system and cannot liberate herself completely.
Trifles & The Yellow Wallpaper: Literary Criticism
However, critics have set out to give their view concerning the two masterworks. For instance, concerning the yellow wallpaper, they have passed a message to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s doctor Dr. S. Weir Mitchell, to urge him to change his treatment method (Ford 234).
Holstein states that “there are visible parallels between the experiences of the narrator and those of Gilman during the time she was writing the short story” (290). The economy portrayed by Glaspell in writing ‘Trifles’ is a one-act style considered masterful by some critics.
The playwright constructs the play out of small gestures just as the women come up with their theories by connecting trifles to explain the crime. The imprisonment of the woman who intern imprisons a bird is allegorical of the chain that exists in the system. Bigsby (25), states that the play “works by understatement.”
According to Greene, the idea of freedom from oppressive traditional female responsibilities and roles form a common bond between Gilman and her female character in the story. The Yellow Wallpaper is supposed to represent the society as it is for the woman, and that is the reason why Gilman centers her writings on the theme of escape (Gilman Para. 3).
According to Giele, the wife in the Play “Trifles” has devoted much of her thoughts into planning how she can get freedom (49) and so is Glaspell who wants to escape the gender traditions and the male-dominated society by forming a unity of women to defend a fellow woman against oppressive men.
Giele concludes by asserting that the “Yellow Wallpaper” is one of many short stories by Gilman, where she presents characters trying to escape from conditions set by society (35).
According to Phyllis Mael, the evolution of the women’s relationships from the tenuous connection to collusion illustrates the female ethos (282).
Mael contends that the “moral dilemma” in the play highlights the perceivable differences between men’s adherence to theoretical principles of morality and women’s empathic, ethical sense of thinking, which considers “moral problems as problems of responsibility in relationship” (282-83).
The two texts give an elaborate description of the treatment of women and their space in a society mostly controlled by men (Ford 237). The theme stories of the women share more similarities in the treatment, as revealed by the writers.
This revelation triggers defiance in women who react in a way to ascertain their overly confusing space in society and claim their equality with men in the society when it comes to making decisions mostly that concern their wellbeing. The implications of these texts are as per the conclusions where the oppressed overcome their oppressors and reclaim their lost freedom.
Bigsby, Charles. A Critical Introduction to Twentieth-Century American Drama: Volume One—1900–1940. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1982.
Ford, Karen. The Yellow Wallpaper and Women’s Discourse. Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature. New York: Random House, 1993.
Giele, Janet Zollinger. Two Paths to Women’s Equality: Temperance, Suffrage, and the Origins of Modern Feminism. New York: Twayne, 1995.
Greene, Gretchen. “the yellow wallpaper and feminism.” New York: Mentor, 1994. 480-496. Web.
Glaspell, Susan. Trifles, The Norton Anthology of American Literature.New York: Norton & Company, 2003.
Hocham, Barbara. The Reading Habit and “The Yellow Wallpaper.” London: Duke University Press, 2002.
Holstein, Suzy. Silent Justice in a Different Key: Glaspell’s Trifles. The Midwest Quarterly 44 (2003): 282-290.
Perkins, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper. New York: Dover Publications, 1982.
Mael, Phyllis. Trifles: The Path to Sisterhood. Literature/Film Quarterly17 (1989): 281-84.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Symbolical Interpretations Essay
Main Points of The Yellow Wallpaper
The basic aim of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is to reflect the oppression of women in the 19th century. Generally, while discussing the major themes of the story, it is necessary to analyze some symbolical issues, the author provides us with. Moreover, The Yellow Wallpaper allows us to consider one of the most important problems women faced in the 19th century in detail.
When reading the story, it becomes evident that Gilman was deeply concerned about the role of women as well as the psychological pressure they experienced. For this reason, one can make a conclusion that Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper is to be analyzed based on symbolical interpretations the author wanted her readers to become familiar with.
The House in The Yellow Wallpaper and Its Symbolical Interpretation
In my opinion, nobody will deny the fact that the protagonist’s oppression in The Yellow Wallpaper is depicted symbolically. For instance, one can notice that Gilman uses such complex symbols as the parts of the house, in order to reflect the psychological state of the main character. Thus, on the one hand, the house the main character lives in can be associated with a desire to become free; however, on the other hand, it is evident that the protagonist cannot avoid a cruel reality.
If one analyzes the short story deeper, he or she can probably conclude that the house reflects the process of transformation a woman experiences. In other words, the house can be regarded as the so-called symbol of self-expression. However, the protagonist’s phrase, which cannot be neglected, is “There is something strange about the house” (Gilman p. 1).
Taking into account the woman’s worldview, it becomes evident that the principal character cannot feel safe, as she is afraid of changes. The adjective strange is related not to the house, but the protagonist’s expectations and hopes. The author shows that a woman’s metamorphosis is unavoidable; however, being under constant oppressions too long, the main character cannot accept changes she experiences so fast.
The Window as a Symbol in The Yellow Wallpaper
The window the author depicts in her story is also of particular importance, as this symbol can also be regarded ambiguously. On the one hand, the window seems to express a woman’s potential; however, taking into consideration the fact that a woman is afraid of looking through it, one can probably conclude that the window is the protagonist’s reflection. The main character does not want to accept her true personality, as she understands what a miserable creature she can see.
For her, an opportunity to look through the window is accepted as real torture, because there she can see other women, who are the same, who must creep, to stay a part of the society. Hochman believes that “Gilman’s nameless protagonist enters an action-filled world that she creates by inference from a printed design. As a result, her depression and despair are temporarily dispelled” (par. 5).
The Yellow Wallpaper as a Symbol of Hope
Finally, the yellow wallpaper should be regarded as a symbol of hope. Looking at the color, the protagonist feels safe. At the same time, the main character understands that the image in the wallpaper is considered to be a reflection of unhappy women who must creep to be a part of society.
According to Gretchen Lynn Greene, “The Yellow Wallpaper is just one of many stories that Gilman wrote that dealt with women trying to attain their freedom from something or someone” (par. 5). For this reason, one can conclude that the author depicted the burning problem of the 19th century.
Gilman, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper, Small & Maynard, Boston: MA, 1899. Print.
Greene, Gretchen. “The Yellow Wallpaper,” n. d. Web.
Hochman, Barbara. The Reading Habit and The Yellow Wallpaper, 2002. Web.
The Yellow Wallpaper: Interpretation & Analysis Essay
This essay aims to make an analysis and interpretation of The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. While discussing the short story’s central theme, it is necessary to highlight some fundamentals of it. There is a need to point out that the author is deeply concerned about the role of women in society.
The Yellow Wallpaper: Literary Analysis
In the following paragraph of the essay, The Yellow Wallpaper will be analysed in terms of its main literary devices. From the very beginning, it becomes evident that the protagonist of the short story is oppressed and the oppression is depicted symbolically. For instance, one is to keep in mind that Gilman relies on rather complicated symbols, including the window, the wall paper, etc. The house is mostly associated with freedom, as the author provides us with her psychological vision of a woman’s transformation. In other words, she allows us to understand that the house is considered to be the symbol of self-expression.
On the other hand, the protagonist cannot feel safe, as she is not in her own house. Thus, nobody can say that the house is a symbol of security; it should be regarded as a place, which allows us to observe a woman’s metamorphosis. While analyzing the short story, one can probably notice that the main character feels uncertainty and fear. For instance, she says that “There is something strange about the house” (Gillman p. 1).
However, there is no need to understand the phrase “sensu stricto”. On the contrary, a deeper analysis of a woman’s worldview, allows us to suppose that for her there is something strange about her expectations and hopes; although she is not ready yet to accept the process of transformation and consider it necessary. In other words, one should regard a woman’s metamorphosis as an evolutionary process.
Negative Connotations and Interpretation of The Yellow Wallpaper
The main symbol in the story, which one cannot neglect, is the widow. Generally, at first sight, it seems that the window should represent a woman’s potential; however, the author gives us a negative connotation. The protagonist does not want to look out of the window, as she can see many other women, who must creep, to belong to society.
Thus, the main character of C.P.Gilman’s short story does not want to see her real personality, as other women symbolize her reflection. In other words, one can conclude that the window is not a symbol of various possibilities; it is a trap. Even though the woman experiences transformation, she cannot fight against her demons, as she seems to be alone in her fight.
The room the main character is in is of particular importance, as it forms the protagonist’s emotions and attitude to reality. For instance, the author draws our attention to the yellow wall-paper. Thus, it is the colour, which influences the protagonist’s reasoning about life. The woman says that “The colour is repellent, almost revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight” (Gillman p. 1).
The protagonist’s only hope is her thoughts. She sees no way to avoid cruel reality; however, the wallpaper allows her to escape. The author points out that the image in the wallpaper symbolizes all the women who must creep, in order to stay a part of the world.
This essay aimed to make a critical analysis of The Yellow Wallpaper. In summary, the short story written by Charlotte Gilman allows us to become familiar with women’s oppression in the 19th century. Gilman depicts the psychological portrait of women who feel trapped.
Gilman, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper. Small & Maynard, Boston: MA, 1899. Print.
Women’s Role in The Yellow Wallpaper, The Awakening, & The Revolt of Mother Analytical Essay
Female inferiority to male gender is a fact that has been on the minds of women for many years. To date, most women still believe that certain roles in society are men’s responsibility, and they do not bother themselves with such. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the Awakening by Kate Chopin, and the Revolt of Mother by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman are three books whose publication took place at the time when the role of women in the society was almost insignificant.
The stories in these publications portray the voices of women as trivial and show that they do not deserve how men handle them. These women take it upon themselves to overcome the culture of discrimination to the level of being in control of certain situations in their lives (Perkins, Perkins 205-6).
Women in the 19th Century
In the 19th century, women believed that they are bound to listen to their husbands and do whatever is required of them without complaint. In “The Revolt of Mother,” Sarah initially gives in to Adoniram’s initiative to construct a burn at the same place he promised to build a house for her. She does this because she believes that she must respect her husband without protest. She decides to communicate what she feels to her husband, who is not interested in talking about the matter.
Sarah then decides to drop the matter because she knows that it is not her place to go against the wishes of her husband. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper, John assumes overall authority over his wife and strongly believes that he understands what is good for her. She, on the other hand, goes ahead to respect the wishes of her husband.
He knows that the decisions he is making are right and does not give thought to her opinion. This inferiority complex portrayed in Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening.” Even though Edna had desires of her own, she initially did not give much thought to leaving her comfortable life with her caring family to explore them.
These wives explored the need to be independent, control their desires, and express their opinion without fear. These three stories bring out the new strength that the women in the 19thcentury found in themselves to break away from oppression and speak their voice. In “The Awakening,” Edna finds liberation in confronting her sexuality and feelings. She tackles her emotions without being afraid like she used to be.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator takes control by ignoring her fainted husband, refers to her as “that man,” and even finds it annoying to “creep over him” as she moves on the wall. “The Revolt of Mother” also emphasizes on the need of the woman to stand out from being the man’s household slave. Sarah Penn rebels her husband’s authority over the farm for the first time after forty years. Her actions to rebel are not taken well by their neighbors, who think that she is insane (Perkins, Perkins 222).
Towards the end of the 19th century, the man had authority over all the proceeds of the home and his family. The woman’s role was to do all household chores and respect her husband. Employers discriminated against women. Employers hired them for domestic jobs only and in some situations paid less money doing the same work as men. By the time the century ended, women still could not vote in elections throughout the country.
This is the period in American history that saw the rise of activists for women’s rights. The women achieved their goal, as evident in America today. They comfortably express their feelings and are allowed to vote in national elections. The will that the female gender had to overcome these challenges came out long after they are married. The boredom in their married lives and the need for independence and free will gave them the strength to break free (Newcomer 138).
Newcomer, Alphonso G. American literature. New York: General book, 2009.
Perkins, George, and Perkins, Barbara. The American Tradition in Literature, Volume II, 12th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007.
A Rose for Emily’ and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ Comparison Compare and Contrast Essay
Does it leave one wondering whether Emily Grierson, in ‘A Rose for Emily’ should be blamed for her solitude and isolation from the rest of the society much as the woman narrator in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’?
Emily Grierson, in ‘A Rose for Emily’ treats her solitude and isolation from the rest of the society as a norm. When she dies, everyone goes for her funeral not because they liked her but because she was a monument for the community. Some were curious to peep inside her house which was known only to a gardener and a cook for almost ten years.
The woman narrator in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ on the other hand sees her isolation from the community as a plague that will eat on her very soul. She yearns for her husband John to be by her side but quickly points out that he is out attending to more severe cases. It is from her that we learn that he is a physician.
Emily in ‘A Rose for Emily’ isolation and solitude is enhanced by her father’s influence on her ideas and actions. She is brought up in the era of civil war. His father turned away a lot of suitors to the effect that she was still single at the age of thirty. Miss Emily is brought up with the notion that she is from an influential and proud Southern family: The Griersons.This is supported by the part in which she starts hanging out with the Northerner Homer Barron.
It is regarded as a bad act; the laborer from the North was not her type or class. When her father dies, she is in denial agreeing to release his body for burial after a lot of pressure. She turns a lot of the community women that had come to pay homage to her away from her doorstep which enhances her stubborn nature and highlights her isolation and solitude.
In the text, there is every indication that Emily represented the last of the pre-civil war era. She lives in a pre-civil war house. All the other houses close to her have been replaced by factories and cotton ginneries. She chooses to hang to her past more than the present making her an isolated case in the ever changing society. A lot of symbolism is used to show her isolation. She lived in an isolated beat-down house that was dark and dusty; a clear indication of her isolation, character and solitude from the other society.
Emily’s contempt for the new laws and rules show how torn apart from the society she is. An indication to this is when she goes to the druggist to buy poison even when the law requires a bound up reason to buy the poison; she stares at the druggist once and she gets the poison she uses for murdering Homer Barron.
Another instance is when the aldermen representatives from the council come to visit her over the remittance of taxes; she tells them off indicating that her father had loaned the town with special reference to Colonel Sartoris the former mayor who had passed on for more than ten years. We can assume that she never knew whether the Colonel had passed on thus highlighting her level of isolation and solitude.
When the Federal State departments issue an order on postal addresses, she refuses to comply indicating her disregard of the new laws and developments. Her mere mention of her name for the foul smell emanating from her house by her neighbors’ to the present mayor shows how hard it is to deal with her.
The mayor rather than confront her, dispatches some men to pour lime around her house at night and several days later, the smell subsides. In various instances in the story, it is reported that she is rarely seen outside by the people after her father’s death and after Homer was reported missing. This shows us of an Emily who is quite satisfied with her present state of affairs.
Her behavior makes her an embodiment of the pre and civil war era of a true and proud Southerner. We can try to understand it in these terms; she has a black man who in the beginning of the text is a young man now stooped and never talks perhaps due to restrictions around him. After he opens the door for the people after Emily’s death, he leaves never to be seen again.
We can conclude that for Emily; her behavior has isolated her from a society that tried to involve her in every way as indicated in the events in the story. She was so out of place such that when she bought the poison; everyone thought she was going to kill herself. This was thought to have been brought out by her relationship with Homer Barron whom it was known was not ready to commit to marriage.
Her association with him had even led people to suggest that she be counseled by a church minister who later said he would never wish to engage her again. She was a fascination even after her death with many coming to her funeral, the women more curious to look into her house where the skeleton body of Homer Barron was found(he had been missing for more than forty years) and a strand of her grey hair on a pillow next to him.
It was now understood of her course of her isolation. She was never the type that liked isolation ;it was just that the only man she would have been glad to be with was not committed resulting to her murdering him and retaining him in her upstairs room where she could see him and lie next to him; a symbol of bonding even after death.
In the ‘Yellow wall paper’, isolation and solitude are well outlined by the dominance of the male over the female. John’s wife is always the one on fault. John is always on the right. The setting of this story is in the late nineteenth century. We come close to a lady who suffers from nervous sickness.
John her husband believes that she truly deserves rest and that her writing is doing her more harm than good. We are made to understand that her writing makes her think more creatively and clearly much to the disagreement of her husband who believes more on facts than anybody else.
We could say that the tattered yellow wallpaper is symbols of worn-out belief of man’s perceived thought of ownership and provision for his wife. She claims to see a woman behind the wallpaper who rearranges the patterns beheld by it. There is a symbolic reflection of herself as she tries to change the perception of a submissive house wife.
She is trying to break free from predominance of male possession. The woman she talks of seems to be free and creeps in the yard and road in daylight. In this case, male dominance and other misinformation may represent the tattered yellow wall paper. They are the tattered beliefs and stereotypes of that age when a woman is to heed to a man’s advice and not her own.
The woman in this story has to heed to her husband John’s instruction and his symbol of authority in the form of Jennie; a talent at house keeping. The woman gets used to the yellow wallpaper smell but later on, she is unpleasant of its creepy smell. This symbolically means that she is disentangling herself from the firm possession of out of place belief s that she cannot be party to her conviction. We even understand that when they first moved in, she is eager to leave but later on she is more interested in staying there for a while. It maybe due to a self discovering of her freedom which she fears will be robbed off her if they move back to their house. It is ironical that John’s projection was to have his wife health nurtured back by her resting. She is not supposed to do anything save bathing and dressing. At first we see the fruits of recovery but ironically it’s due to her self discovery not John’s taunted point of view.
An incisive critique can only reveal that Emily in ‘A Rose for Emily’ has no time to discover her self-worth and chooses to spend her time in isolation and self pity. These two stories tell of two contrasting women in similar influence. They are both squirming under male dominance. In as much as Emily is entangled in this, she is not willing to acknowledge the disastrous effects.
She believes that her fate lies with male dominance and possession. She believes that the only way to survive is to cling to her past. This is evident in her denial of her father’s death, the tax reduction, the death of Homer Barron, and the fact that her house is the placid building left behind by her father (she did not repair it in any way).
When she passed on, people could only imagine the places she would have been with them as indicated in part of the story: “Miss Emily as if she had been a contemporary of theirs, believing that they had danced with her and courted her perhaps, confusing time with its mathematical progression, as the old do, to whom all the past is not a diminishing road.”
The woman narrator on The Yellow Wallpaper on the other hand has discovered her self-worth. She is ready to tear the wallpaper and break loose. She is envious of her husband and Jennie, her house help. She narrates that she has found them both staring at the yellow wallpaper much to their own discomfort and to her great amazement. She is an embodiment of a great breakthrough in the fact that she rediscovers her new energy and point of view.
Her nervousness is by then over. She breaks the bond of isolation and solitude on negative matters and prefers to be possessed with more positive values such as self-trust. She describes the amazement of Jane and her husband due to her new discovery in the last part of her story as: “I’ve got out at last,” said I,”Inspite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!”
“Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time!”
In both stories, the writers try to show us the effect of being complacent to change and the effect of restricting yourself to one popular belief. For Emily; she is described as a monument which symbolically means unchanging. As for the woman narrator in the Yellow wallpaper; she is happy to have discovered herself and actually improves in her health. The contrasting effect of isolation and solitude is felt throughout both stories.
The Yellow Wallpaper: Connection between the Narrator & the Paper Essay
This argumentative essay focuses on “The Yellow Wallpaper” short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. It examines how the description of the paper reflects the narrator’s changing character.
The Description of the Paper & the Narrator’s Changing Character
The yellow paper description reveals how women were determined to defy the powers that were imposed on them by men and hence create new roles for themselves. Women, therefore, challenged the patriarchal ideologies and moved beyond the restrictions to free from enslavement.
The yellow paper thus shows women’s relentless pursuit to gain freedom in society did not value the role of women. The description of the yellow paper shows the life of a girl who was eager and ready to read books to get ideas on how she can free from slavery in a male-dominated society. The description thus reflects how the narrator was desperate to read at times when women were not allowed to read any book (Golden and Gilman 3).
The yellow paper also shows how women suffered as a result of reading privately. The story thus portrays the transformative reading potential in that had the narrator failed to realize that the reading has the potential to transform her. The other women in the society could remain in slavery in their entire life. The reading transformed the narrator in that she started being sensitive that she started to realize that the room in which she was being locked in had one window only.
The narrator began to view the house from a different perspective, and she says that “there is something strange about the house.” She hated the room, and she could explain the kind of her desired one. A room with pizza and roses is what she tells she desires. The yellow paper thus reflects the narrator’s changing character in that her eyes were open, and she began dreaming of better things in her life. She began to challenge John’s ideas concerning the room.
The narrator gained courage over time to express her ideas in writing. Even though John would think the writing idea as absurd, the narrator was determined to express her feelings. The narrator wished that John could allow her to leave that place. The issue of talking to John was not that easy, but the narrator eventually expressed her feelings.
The yellow paper reflects the narrators changing character in that life eventually turned out to be more exciting than before. As a result, her determination to read and flee herself, the narrator was successful in her mission. She was able to overcome oppression. The narrator’s hope for a better tomorrow was restored, and she had something in which to expect. She was in a position to feed for herself well, and she lived a quiet life as opposed to before.
The yellow paper enabled the narrator to discover something which she never knew before. She discovered that women possess equal power as men, and so, to be recognized in society, women must stand up and fight for their rights (Gilman 7).
The description of the yellow paper reflects the narrator’s changing character. The yellow paper helped to transform the narrator in that she was able to establish her rightful role in society.
Gilman, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper, this edition. London: Routledge, 1997.
Golden, Catherine & Gilman, Charlotte. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Yellow Wallpaper: a sourcebook and critical edition. London: Routledge, 2004.
Feminist Criticism Essay
Feminist criticism is the way through which literature has been used to reinforce or undermine the role played by women in the society. This includes the role of women in social, political and economical activities of the society. In most societies of the world, women and the role that they play in the society has always been undermined. Their contribution and impacts on the societies have always been neglected and as such, women have not been viewed as important figures of the society.
As a result, their rights, opinions, choice and ideologies have always not been taken seriously. Due to this, women have started to use literature as a means of expressing their grievances, desires and needs. Through it, they have been able to state clearly their role and importance in the society. The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman are examples of stories that have been used to show feminist criticism. These stories are discussed in this paper.
The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
The Story of an Hour was written by Kate Chopin in 1894. The protagonist in this story is a woman called Mrs. Louise Mallard who has a heart problem. On learning the news about her husband`s death, her sister Josephine and her husband`s friend Richard are having a hard time in coming up with a way which they will break down the sad news to Mrs. Mallard. This is because she has a heart problem hence if the message is not passed in the best way possible, severe consequences might follow.
Both her sister and her husband`s friend are worried since they do not know the best means to pass this message to her because of her health condition. This is because it is not easy for anyone to hear and accept the news of the death of someone they loved, especially a spouse one has spent many years living together. That is why her sister, while breaking the news down to her, used broken sentences and veiled hints that revealed the theme of the message but not its real content.
We are told that, “It was her sister Josephine who told her, in broken sentences; veiled hints that revealed in half concealing” (Berkove 153). Richard also had to be sure that the message about the death of his friend was true before telling it to the wife. That is why after receiving the news of his death, he had to assure himself by another telegram. Josephine and Richard at this point see Mrs. Ballard as weak both physically and emotionally thus taking this news is going to be very difficult for her.
On receiving the news, Mrs. Ballard broke down into tears immediately and went to her room to have some time alone. While in the room, she discovered that she was not sad but instead she felt as if she was free from her misery and will now be able to live the rest of her life for herself and herself alone.
In the story we are told that, “She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her… She said it over and over under her breath: free, free, free!” (Berkove 154). Instead of being sad, she felt relieved and free unlike what Josephine and her sister thought. This is because she is the only one who knew the suffering she was undergoing in that marriage and that she did not always love her husband.
The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
In this story, the protagonist, who is not named, her husband, her sister-in-law and child have moved to a summer house where she is expected to recover from a health condition that she is suffering from. Her physician had diagnosed her with post-partum depression that made her nervous all the time.
They moved into this house so that she could get solitude, peace and calmness as a remedy to her sickness. She was also not supposed to work or do anything that would affect her emotions. Although she was not for the idea, her complains were never taken seriously by either her husband or her brother, both of whom were physicians and believed that she was okay.
In this story, it is evident that the protagonist did not get a chance to air out her feeling or emotions. Due to this fact, she found it difficult to even communicate with her husband and tell her the problems that she was going through. She found it better to keep the pain and suffering that she was going through to herself since no one else could understand; not even her own husband who is supposed to support her in any issue. Due to this fact, her mental distress kept on getting worse and as time went by, she could not keep it together anymore.
The two stories that have been discussed above show the pain and suffering that women go through in the marriages that they are in. die to this fact, their joy, happiness and attitudes tend to change. At some time, their spouses turn to become as their enemies and when they are gone, they feel relieved. This was shown in the story of an hour when the protagonist learned about the alleged death of her husband. Thus, women have used literature to express their feelings and emotions that have been neglected by the society that is dominated by men
Berkove, Lawrence L. “Fatal Self-Assertion in Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour.” American Literary Realism 32.2 (2000): 152-158.
The Yellow Wallpaper Essay
The Yellow Wallpaper is a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman that explains the sad story of a woman suffering from acute postpartum depression. Written during the dying years of the 19th century, The Yellow Wallpaper is characteristic of the mental and emotional treatment that women were subjected to during this period. Indeed, Gilman uses this short story as her “reaction” to this sort of treatment.
Given the weight that Gilman gives The Yellow Wallpaper and considering her own life, one would conclude that she was indeed using the story as a reference to her life. Through reading the story, one can see a clear desire for the women in this period to entangle themselves from domination. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story, there is a clear theme of domination of women, and society seems to be unanimous in support of it.
The Yellow Wallpaper: Short Story Analysis
From the surface, the story seems to be addressing the narrator’s sickness, but a more in-depth analysis reveals that it is indeed talking about the condition of the womenfolk in general. The society seems to have assigned roles for women, which they are supposed to adhere to.
In the story, John symbolically represents the male folk while the narrator represents the women. Throughout the story, the narrator, together with the rest of the women trapped in the wallpaper, is desperately trying to break loose from the function that the society has assigned for them.
Although these women are trying as hard as they can, their courage always seems to fail them, especially at night when their husbands and the rest of the family are at home. However, their courage finally gives way, and this is why John, who represents men, faints upon realizing that his wife has finally broken free from his control.
Although this observation is debatable, there is clear evidence from the story to prove this point. Right from the start, there seem to be specific duties that wives and mothers have to fulfill. These duties seem to have been so oppressive that women tend to get depressed after giving birth to their first child. This depression leads them to take the rest cure during which time they are supposed to do nothing but to eat and remain in seclusion.
The rest is so extreme such that one is even forbidden from writing anything since this would be tantamount to overworking their brains, something that would hinder their recovery. This is despite the fact that the narrator knows that “congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good.” (Gilman)
The oppression of women seems to have been so great that John and the narrator’s brother, both physicians, believe that the narrator is not sick despite her thinking otherwise. This happens despite the fact that they both love the narrator dearly.
What is surprising is that despite this form of medication, the narrator does not seem to get any better. She wishes that she could get well faster just to escape this form of the regimen. It is obvious that the narrator views the treatment as an unnecessary interruption in her life that should not have occurred in the first place.
Despite this, she is aware of the repercussions that could possibly follow her refusal to adhere to the terms of the medication. Instead of looking into the reasons why her recovery is slow, John believes that her wife is to blame something that seems to scare the narrator a great deal.
This is seen when she says, “If I don’t pick up faster, he shall send me to Weir Mitchell in the fall.” (Gilman) Although we are not told what kind of a place Weir Mitchell was, there is no doubt that it was a place that instilled fear on the narrator, and this makes us wonder what kind of a husband would want to take his wife in such a place. In fact, Gilman seems to have put this statement for effect just to show us the extreme end that these men were willing to go to keep their women under control.
Although the couple rents a colonial mansion for the wife to recuperate, it is ironic how she is not allowed any say in the matter. Throughout the story, John seems to know what is best for his wife, and he does not accept her output in the matter. The husband does not even allow her to choose her bedroom from the many rooms. Instead, he forces her to occupy the room with the ugly wallpaper.
The narrator wants to do so many things but as it was characteristic in that period, the marriage institution that she is committed to compromises her freedom and happiness. In addition to the bedroom containing the ugly wallpaper, the room has no windows, and even the bed is bolted to prevent her from moving it to any other position. This is a clear sign of control and domination by the husband.
By analyzing the lives of the women behind the wallpaper, it is obvious that they are trying to look for their freedom. On her part, the narrator is looking for freedom from her husband and the rest cure that she has been subjected to. Throughout the story, the narrator tries hard to free women from the gender bias that had seeped in society. However, this is not easy because, just like the wallpaper, these societal changes had become “ridged and yellow with age.” (Gilman)
Despite John’s domination, the narrator slowly begins to take control of her life. Although she had loathed the yellow wallpaper at first, she begins gaining some mental strength just by watching it. As her mind begins to churn, she forces herself to think, and this is something that her husband does not like. Deep down her heart, she knows that her husband does not necessarily know everything, but she does not say anything for fear of reprisals. Although John has told her not to bother herself with anything, she begins analyzing the wallpaper, and that is when she notices the figure of women trying to free themselves.
For once, the narrator feels that she knows something that her husband or any other person, for that matter, does not have an idea about. This is presented when she says, “there are things in that paper that nobody knows but me.” For once, the narrator is elated since she feels that she possesses first-hand knowledge that is not yet evident to her husband.
For once in her life, she seems to have concluded that she has a functional mind that is entirely hers and one that she can use as she wills. Even to John, his wife is like a mystery that he is unable to solve. That is why he keeps her locked in the bedroom just to keep her under control. However, what he fails to realize is that by doing so, he is actually helping her to solve her own mystery.
As the story nears climax, John seems bewildered, and he even seems to be noticing a change of attitude on the narrator. In fact, he commends her for putting an effort to get better, but she knows that she is getting well for other reasons. Although he does not admit it, John has realized that the wallpaper is a representation of his wife, and that is why he reprimands her wherever he catches her staring at it. Just with a day to go before they leave the house, the narrator masters her courage and tears down the wallpaper.
The narrator’s feelings of freedom come to peak when she manages to pull down the yellow wallpaper from the walls where it had hanged. To accomplish this, she uses much will power and patience, but she finally manages to get the work done. She is convinced that John would reprimand her for tearing down the wallpaper, but for once, she is not bothered. To her, taking control of anything even if it is the “odious wallpaper” is better than just sitting and doing nothing.
Indeed, tearing down the wallpaper seems only to be the first step toward her freedom. To her, she seems to have concluded that her life was in her own hands and not on Johns or any other male for that matter. Within a short time, she seems to have developed mentally as a woman. The narrator’s final victory comes when John arrives home and realizes what she has done.
To begin with, he is shocked when he realizes that she has locked the door, something that she had never done before. However, the climax arrives when he enters the room and realizes that she has torn down the wallpaper. There is no doubt in John’s mind that his wife has finally developed mentally and regained the freedom that he had for so long denied her. In fact, the shock is so much for John such that he faints.
The proof that the narrator has gained mental control comes shortly after when she says that “now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall so that I had to creep over him every time.” (Gilman) At this point, she is not perturbed by what he thinks, and his fainting does not even surprise her. To her, tearing the wallpaper out of the walls is a sign of showing that she is willing to take matters into her own hands, and this is what scares the husband and makes him faint.
The Yellow Wallpaper is a clear representation of life in the 19thcentury. During this period, women seem to have been under male domination, and society seems to have accepted this fact. Throughout the story, the narrator seems to be fighting to get a voice of her own.
However, her husband decides that he knows what is best for her, and he does not even give her the freedom to choose what she wants. Instead, he embarks on making all the decisions for her even on matters that directly affect her well-being. At the end of the story, the narrator regains control of her life, and this scares her husband to a point where he even faints.
Gilman Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper, 1899. Web. <http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/home>
Comparing ‘The Story of an Hour’ and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ Essay
“The Story of an Hour” by Chopin and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Gilman revolve around how men view women and their qualities. The short stories are ideally characterized by women who are trying to conform to the standards of the society in their quest for freedom.
These two stories have similarities such as the use of rest treatment by the doctors in trying to deal with the conditions of the women. The main characters in the two stories are similar in the sense that they are all in search of freedom. This essay will compare the two stories by discussing their similarities.
Similarities between the Stories
The first similarity between the ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and ‘The story of an Hour is that the main characters in the stories are looking for freedom in vain. In ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,’ the main character undergoes mental depression. In her efforts to find a solution to the problem, she moves with her husband to live in an isolated mansion but her problem is not solved. Her husband is to be blamed for her suffering because he forces her to stay in a certain room that she does not like.
He denies her freedom by forcing her to stay in a room without going out. In the ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,’ the main character, also a woman is in search of freedom and stays in a room alone. She wants to be separated from her husband for her to live her own life. However, she is denied freedom during a period she needs it so much. Consequently, her denial of freedom causes her to die of a heart attack. The two stories are therefore similar in that the main characters are women who want freedom (Andrea 3).
The second similarity between these two stories is that the main women characters have patronizing husbands. In ‘The Story of an Hour,’ Louise confesses that since she got married, her life has been completely different. When she is informed that her husband has died, she has a feeling of happiness when she imagines of life without him.
She says that her soul and body are finally free. However she gets disappointed after discovering that her husband has not died. Similarly, the woman in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,’ is also not given freedom by her husband. The husband prevents her from spending her time in the room she wants to stay in. He does not allow her to do what she wants to do and become the person she wants to be.
The third interesting similarity between “The Story of an Hour” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” is that women are described through the perspective of a doctor. In the 19th century, few women became doctors since only men were expected to be doctors.
The authors of these two stories wanted to use the doctors to bring out how men viewed women. The main character in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is the wife of a doctor. The doctor forces her to spend time in a rest cure because she is suffering from depression associated with a woman who has just given birth.
Putting a person in a rest cure was a common type of treatment during the early days where patients were not expected to engage in any activity. This form of treatment had been effective on men but it was yet to be tried on women. It was not clear why men were psychologically different from women. The prescription that his wife be put in a rest cure does not work but instead affects the woman mentally (Schilb and Clifford 95).
The similarity of wrong diagnosis is also evident in “The Story of an Hour”. In this story, Louise is a victim of heart failure which consequently causes her death. The doctors argue that her death might have been caused by the untimely sense of relief and joy she experiences after discovering that her husband is still alive.
However, when the line of thought for the character before her death is analyzed, it is clear that the cause of her death is different. The doctors also make a conclusion that the depression Louise suffered from was because she was too dedicated to her husband. In actual sense, what kills Louise is her failure to manage the overwhelming feeling that engulfs her after finally getting freedom (Andrea 5).
The fourth similarity between these two short stories regards the thoughts that go through the minds of the main characters. In both stories, closed rooms are used to assist the reader in understanding private thoughts that go through the minds of the characters.
When they are not in the rooms, the actions of the women are in accordance with societal expectations. However, when they are confined in the solitary rooms where they are not with their husbands, a big change is observed. The woman in the “The Yellow Wallpaper” experiences mental problems and she is restrained from any activity.
When left alone in the room, her thoughts are only focused towards the design of the wallpaper in the room until she becomes insane. At some point, she tries to free herself by destroying an image resembling a woman that she finds in the pattern. She attempts to find identity with the woman and tries to look for freedom but she becomes insane.
In “The Story of an Hour,” Louise is also confined in a room which eventually acts as the platform that leads her to ultimate freedom. In the room, the reader can also understand what Louise is thinking about. Just like the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper,’ she exhibits different behavior in the room. The rooms in these stories are used as avenues through which the characters destroy themselves.
The final similarity between “The Yellow wallpaper” and “The story of an Hour” is that women are portrayed as people who achieve freedom by adhering to the societal norms. When Louise learns of the death of her husband, she confines herself in a room. While in the room, she experiences a feeling of confidence that she had not experienced before as confirmed through her exclamations that she if free at last (Chopin 83).
She decides to change her life after being convinced that her husband is dead and could feel a sense of freedom by locking herself in the room. In ‘The wallpaper,’ this also happens to the wife of John who is the main character in the story. Her sickness causes her to develop an abnormal obsession with the yellow wallpaper.
The image of a woman that appears in the wallpaper seems like a symbol of her own confinement in the room. She sees herself as sharing similar circumstances with the image and decides to free it by destroying it. The destruction she does makes her feel as if she has eventually attained freedom (Gilman 173). These stories are therefore similar in that the women are finally freed from their circumstances.
‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and ‘The Story of an Hour’ are descriptive of the role of women in society and their lack of independence. The stories suggest that women are capable of living independent lives without interference from their husbands. They work effortlessly to achieve freedom but their naivety causes them to fail eventually.
Both stories suggest a possible change where women will have power in the society. This will enable them to live their own lives without being controlled by their men. The society today has not changed much since women face similar problems. However, women in the current world have tried to change marriage roles and more assertive.
Andrea. Short Stories: Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour. 2011. Web.
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour. New York: Perfection Learning, 2000. Print.
Gilman, Charllote. The Yellow Wallpaper. California: Forgotten Books, 1973. Print.
Schilb, John and John Clifford. Making Literature Matter. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2008. Print.
Further Study: FAQ
? What does the yellow paper symbolize?
The wallpaper of an “unclean” yellow color symbolizes the social environment where the main heroine feels trapped. In the paper’s pattern, the narrator sees the woman behind bars. In the same way, the heroine is caged in her domestic life.
? Is there feminism in the Story of an Hour and The Yellow Wallpaper?
The foundation of both stories is women’s desire for freedom and independent decision-making. Their health, opinions, and motives are the focus of the stories. Therefore, the stories are feministic and female-driven.
? What other stories are similar to The Yellow Wallpaper?
Such stories as The Awakening by Kate Chopin, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, and The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath are similar to The Yellow Wallpaper.
? Who are The Story of an Hour characters?
The characters of the story are Louise Mallard, a young woman with a weak heart, her sister Josephine, and Brently Mallard, Louise’s husband.
Women Struggling From Their Fate Essay
It is amazing to know how people perceive the world differently. People from various walks of life have different interpretation of daily experiences. This is so clear when discussing the issues that arise in stories by great authors. In this essay, we take a look at the perception towards women struggling to gain control over their fates as written by Kate Chopin, Merge Piercy and Gilman in their stories the Story of an Hour, Barbie Doll and Yellow Wallpaper respectively.
In the Story of an Hour, Kate Chopin presents an often unheard view about marriage. Chopin has tackled the issue of marriage and selfhood concept by portraying Mrs. Louise Mallard, as a strong woman. This happened due to her reaction when she is informed about the death of her husband in train accident.
The reader has a perception that Mrs. Louise would be greatly affected by the death of her husband when she learns it, but this is not the case. Instead Mrs. Louise Ironically feels a relieved when she receives the bad news. Her reaction probably shows that death does not necessarily cause grief to the close family members. One thing has to die for another to thrive as the death of Louise could have opened the door to a fresh new start of a life with so much freedom.
Kate Chopin seems to have a lot of things in common with her husband Louise Mallard who is also a major protagonist. They both lived during the period when women had very limited rights and privileged, prejudiced based on their gender. During this era women were required to be very submissive to their husbands. Their opinions were not regarded since women were meant to be seen, but not heard.
During those days, marriage was considered a sacred institution making divorce a rare thing. In the event that as divorce was necessary, the man would automatically have the legal of controlling of all of the property and children that he had with his woman (Hicks 1). Chopin grew up in a male dominated environment. She writes many controversial stories on abusive relationship and unhappy marriage. There were a lot of things that she did that were considered contrary to the societal norms of that period.
Mrs. Louise Mallard’s emotions changes from one state to another within an hour. She gets upset by the sad news of the death of a loved one but when she comes out of the room she seem to have already accepted the situation and adapting to the new situation. Though she is saddened by her husband’s death, she at once gets delighted by the reflection of her awaiting freedom.
Her passion for life is so evident. She anticipates for her new life in the future and how she would live as a free woman enjoying absolute freedom. As she begins to savor the sweet sense of freedom, her husband shows up at their house still breathing. On seeing him, she is shocked and dies because of the reality that strikes her. She is unable to bare the drastic change of emotion on learning that her husband was actually not dead. This will eventually deny her the freedom she has been longing for (Ostman 6).
In the poem “Barbie Doll”, author Marge Piercy makes use of four paragraphs to scornfully describe the cultural and societal expectations of the girl child from her birth, the bringing up, life and death. A girl faces some serious social problems as she grows up in the community.
These challenges include issues such as peer cruelty and societal pressure to conform to its normal and keep a certain kind of image of a woman which that society deems ‘ideal image of a woman’. A girl is shown to have a life that is full of challenges and less options to enjoy it.
The society is depicting it to begin at birth, upbringing, the girl gets married and finally faces sad death. This literary piece depicts such life as boring and very short. The poem is presented in a tone of depression and sadness, depicting the culturally unacceptable image of our society.
When this girl is born, she is “presented with dolls that did pee-pee/and miniature GE stoves and irons/and wee lipsticks the color of cherry candy” (Piercy 4). This exposes her to unwittingly ideals and expectations of society. The girl was given toys that were designed to teach her to adapt the life of a wife which was basically that of looking.
This type of influence inadvertently pulls the girl into a different world or her subconscious without her noticing. When she hits puberty the sponge rings, sending a cascade of awareness over her. One of her classmates proclaimed to her that “you have a great big nose and fat legs” (Piercy 6). These nine simple words are not the foolish opinion of an immature classmate, but devastating news.
Her attempts to conform to the ideals that the society teaches are no longer subconscious rather deliberate. She felt bad that she did not fit in these ideals. She kept going to and fro to her friends apologizing for her “fat nose on thick legs” which was all anyone could see. To her, no one saw that “she was healthy, tested intelligent, possessed strong arms and back, abundant sexual drive and manual dexterity” (Piercy 9), which are all good qualities, but her package wasn’t perfect.
The societal pressures follow certain way of life or perception of a beautiful and attractive girl became and ultimately notion of a good woman faded away. She therefore cut her nose off and her legs too to offer them as her body and soul to the baseless societal pressures (Piercy L 12-15). She could have literally cut her nose and legs off but she sought to have them replaced by new technology of plastic surgery. This drained her physically and emotionally in attempts to get what society wanted her to get.
The fairy-tale about “Barbie Doll” depicts the society as being able to cause very destructive consequences because of the enormous pressure it puts on women requiring them to behave in certain ways of life like the looks and conduct in public. Gender roles weaken women’s self-confidence and cause havoc on their self-esteem. Piercy suggests that the creator of Barbie doll has participated actively in the male dominated society of the “patriarchal societal system” by promoting women stereotypes.
As one of the leading toy selling in US, Barbie dolls have used the strategy of idealizing the female body, such that it have turned to be an iconic in the American culture. Parents purchase these dolls for their daughters, who in turn try to attempt to imitate Barbie’s form, presentation and the values that it embodies. This symbolizes as a beautiful, though tasteless, blonde who does just anything she is told to (Beer 5).
In the Yellow Wallpaper, it shows female person undergoing “treatment” for anxiety, a condition that signifies worry. It is ironical that the doctor happens to be her own husband. She is put in a room which was earlier on occupied by a mentally challenged patient. After a few weeks, the woman starts portraying symptoms of being paranoid and experienced hallucinations regularly. All the way through the story, the woman is seen to constantly refer to the yellow wallpaper (Mikolajczyk 67).
The first issue that arises in the story is when interpreting the meaning(s) behind the wallpaper. The yellow color could possibly infer something concerning insanity which makes the woman to repeatedly refer yellow wallpaper patterns which are peeling off the walls.
More to the point, the patterns could be suggestive of chaos erupting from orderliness. It is obvious looking at the number of times she mentions the wall pattern that it has a great impact on the mental condition of the woman. She could be delusional seeing woman move behind the wallpaper, as if she wants to break out from it.
This could in fact imply that it is a ‘reflection’ of herself in the wallpaper or it she could just be hallucinating that someone behind the wall. At the end of the story, she assumes on the role of a “creeping” woman. She is seen to follow a blotch around the room and over the body of her husband who has fainted.
In short, the woman has been trapped in the paper and tormented by Dr. John’s unsympathetic heart for her condition. With three kids to take care of, the mother is attempting to find humor and reflections amidst the chaos she is undergoing. When her husband was on overnight call, she could pack up the kids and head over to the hospital for a visit. The kid could get some much needed father time and Dr. John always took a break from a very long shift.
In conclusion, the three stories clearly present the world’s perception towards women who are in constant struggles to gain control over their fates. They show us what a women’s life would have been if they remained silent without any struggle. Although they are fictions, but there is a lot we can learn from them.
Beer, Janet. The Cambridge Companion to Kate Chopin. Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP, 2008. Print.
Gilman, Charlotte P.”That Rare Jewel.” Women’s Journal 17 May 1890: 158. “The Yellow Wall-Paper” and Other Stories. Ed. Robert Shulman. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995. 20-24
Hicks, Jennifer. An Analysis of the Story of an Hour. 1999. 20 April, 2011. http://www.eliteskills.com/c/6576
Mikolajczyk, Michael. Literary analysis of Marge Piercy’s Barbie Doll. 2009. Web.
Ostman, Heather. Kate Chopin in the Twenty-First Century: New Critical Essays
Newcastle upon Tyne, England: Cambridge Scholars, 2008. Print.