2012 Apr. 3rd
Freedom of one’s own
Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s story “The yellow wallpaper,” was published in 1892, two years before Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour.” These two stories deal with the position of women in the late 1800’s. This era is especially interesting to look at because women were treated as second-class citizens whose perception and role as a person were mostly determined by their husbands, men. As female writers under the pressure of society, these two writers put their efforts into accusing the society of late 1800’s of mistreatments towards women.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Story of an Hour” share many similarities, yet with some differences. Two stories have main married female protagonists dealing with their husbands. They both are tired of the oppression of their husbands and society and try their own way of standing up against them. The un-named character (narrator) of “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Louise Mallard from “The Story of an Hour” seek for their own freedom. I will try to briefly compare these two stories and seek for similarities and differences while analyzing two character’s perception of freedom.
Woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the narrator, is ill. For better understanding, she is the only one who thinks she is suffering from ‘nervous depression’. And her doctor husband and brother say she isn’t. John, the husband, decides that his wife needs convalescence in a quite and safe place out of his home. So John and her take a summer vacation to ‘a colonial mansion, a hereditary estate’. Narrator does not say a word about the decision, actually could not even think about doing so. “If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency – what is one to do? …Personally, I disagree with their ideas…but what is one to do?” (pg. 2345).
An Ironic Triumph In "The Yellow Wallpaper", a story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the conflict centers on the protagonist's ... The plot flows directly to this occurrence. The woman distances herself from her husband by being afraid of him, and from the ... code of behavior for a sick woman." She has been given a "schedule prescription for each hour in the day; [John] takes ...
For the good of her health, she is forbidden to ‘work’ until she is well again. In fact, she is even forbidden to ‘think’. “I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus-but John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad.” (pg. 2345).
Narrator tries to agree and obey to her husband’s suggestion, or an order, and suppress her instinct one by one. I mean she tries to look like she is following her husband’s orders.
She becomes good at hiding her journal and thus hiding her true thoughts from John. She continues longs for more stimulating activities and complains about her husband’s controlling ways. Narrator is literally trapped in a room all day. And her focus of imagination continuously moves to the yellow wallpaper, which she disliked from the first day of vacation. She keeps on looking at the wallpaper; despite of the fact that she thinks it is ugly and even menacing. Author’s imagination has been aroused. She has become almost fond of the wallpaper and finally, attempting to figure out the wallpaper’s weird pattern has become her entertainment. “Life is very much more exciting now than it used to be. You see I have something more to expect, to look forward to, to watch. I really do eat better, and am more quiet than I was.” (pg. 2351).
Soon the wallpaper dominates the narrator’s imagination. She becomes obsessive and tries hard to hide her secret research when she starts to sleep less and use all of her imagination towards the wallpaper. On the last week of vacation, her imagination has grown up to the point where she clearly resemble a woman trying to get out from behind the main pattern. At this point, author without a single doubt is completely convinced that there are creeping women trapped behind the wallpaper, who are in a desperate need of rescue. And she is once again convinced that she herself is the trapped woman also.
'The Yellow Wallpaper' by Charlotte Gilman is sad story of the repression that women face in the days of late 1800's as well as being representative of the turmoils that women face today. Gilman writes 'The Yellow Wallpaper' from her own personal experiences of having to face the overwhelming fact that this is a male dominated society and sometimes women suffer because of it. The narrator, being ...
While the narrator creeps endlessly around the room smudging the wallpaper as she goes, John breaks into the room and sees the horror of the situation. He faints in doorway, so that Narrator has “to creep over him every time!”
“The Story of an Hour” begins with acknowledging the readers that Louis Mallard, the main character, has heart trouble. One day Louis Mallard is carefully informed about her husband’s death from Josephine, her sister. Friend of Louise’s husband, Richards, has found out about the railroad accident and seen the name of Brently, Louise’s husband, on the list of those killed. Louise begins bursting out of tears right after the news and runs to her room alone telling no one to follow. After entering, she walks up to the window and sees trees and clouds and hears variety of sounds from outside. As she was gazing out the window, she felt the subtle emotions arising from inside. Louise tries to suppress but she can’t. “When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: ‘free, free, free!’”
Louise loved Brently and he loved Louise. Louise is certain of the fact that she will cry when she stands in front of Brently’s corpse. But she is overjoying of her freedom, freedom from anyone, mainly her husband, oppressing her. She thinks men and women oppress each other as if they do it out of love and kindness. Now Louise is standing in front of the door, ready to step outside for the real life, life of her own. “She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long.”
Louise steps outside, walks down to the doorway. She sees Richards. And at that right moment, her husband, Brently, opens the door and walks in. Richards tries to block the sight of Louise because of Louise’s heart trouble. But he was too late. “When doctors came they said she had died of heart disease-of joy that kills.”
These two stories of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Kate Chopin share multiple similarities and differences. First of all, the structure of these two stories are different, where “The Yellow Wallpaper” is in first person’s perspective and “The Story of an Hour” tells the story in third person’s perspective. This difference, added to the level of insanity of Narrator, helps the reader to feel as if the story was happening in front of them.
The word freedom has its own definitions for different individuals. To some, freedom refers to the freedom of speech, freedom of thoughts and expressions and over all the realization of personal freedom or individuality. On the other hand for many others, freedom refers to none of these and only to the freedom of soul- that is freedom of spirituality. Marilynne Robinson in her novel Gilead has ...
Second thing I reckon is the difference of the death of character. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, a character who died (fainted) was John, narrator’s husband, when the dead was Louise herself in “The Story of an Hour”. This may not seem like a crucial difference. But after I finished reading these two stories, it was one of few things remained for quite long time. Because I thought this difference shortly, yet clearly, pictures the personality of two characters. Narrator’s insanity from suppression of man drove her husband to death (faint).
But Louise’s overjoy of her husband’s death drove herself to death. To be more literal, narrator’s insanity out forced her husband, as if it were revenge. And Louise’s husband’s death news out forced her to death.
First similarity, as I mentioned in the beginning of essay, is the background era these short stories were written in. Late 1800’s were an era of men I would say. Women had no role or perception of own. They were belonged to men. Society, by a tacit consent, agreed with this kind of role of men and women and women had no power to oppose to. Narrator from “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Louise Mallard from “The Story of an Hour” were no different. They were suppressed and stressed under men’s control.
Second similarity, yet a difference at the same time is the fact that these two characters both sought for freedom. And the place they sought for freedom of their own was their room. Narrator from “The Yellow Wallpaper” longed for freedom to be out of the room. She was trapped and her insanity has constantly been grown in that room. In contrary, Louise Mallard from “The Story of an Hour” was not trapped in her room. She was suppressed from the perception of men, perception of society. And her room was the place where Louise found a freedom at last. This was interesting because it shows and proves the fact that each of our own shares different places to be our own freedom. Like for myself, it is driver’s seat of my car that sets me free from the whole world.
It is interesting to take a close look at two female writers who lived in same era of woman suppression and see how they spoke out to society with different style yet similar content. Despite of the difference of perspective, “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Story of an Hour” shared one thesis in common, freedom. Since the creation of earth, mankind forces themselves hard not to eternally stay in the present and it has become the power of movement. Throughout the history, thesis of freedom has always been in the center of multiple philosophical debates, a question to ask who we are. After reading and comparing “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Story of an Hour”, I am, again, trapped into one question. “What is your freedom?”
The title of this story “Dead Mans Path” foreshadows the series of events about to take place in the story. “Dead Mans Path” does not only refer to the ancestral pathway but also refers to Obis choice of action. His “path” by not compromising has made him a “Dead Man”. Dead in this context is not death, but is referring to his failure. His dream ...