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.
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