An Analysis Of Zora Neale Hurston 's `` Sweat `` And `` The Yellow Wallpaper ``

An Analysis Of Zora Neale Hurston 's `` Sweat `` And `` The Yellow Wallpaper ``

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The two works of literature nudging at the idea of women and their roles as domestic laborers were the works of Zora Neale Hurston in her short story “Sweat”, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”. Whatever the setting may be, whether it is the 1920’s with a woman putting her blood, sweat and tears into her job to provide for herself and her husband, or the 1890’s where a new mother is forced to stay at home and not express herself to her full potential, women have been forced into these boxes of what is and is not acceptable to do as a woman working or living at home. “Sweat” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” draw attention to suppressing a woman’s freedom to work along with suppressing a woman’s freedom to act upon her creative outlets.
The focal point of these two short stories surrounds these women’s experiences as domestic laborers. Domestic labor can be seen as a person’s duty to work within the bounds of his or her home setting. Some issues we see arise from this sarcophagus of women’s domestic labor, is that it can go underappreciated and unrecognized by those who are benefiting from it. Furthermore, there are problems with the fact that domesticity is forced upon women, in some cases, which can make the woman feel trapped in her own mind.
“Sweat” by Zora Hurston is a tantalizing short story of a strong woman of color, Delia Jones, rising above the abuse and emotional neglect of her husband, Sykes, to ultimately live her life with the freedom to continue her work at home.
The fact that Delia is a washerwoman further accentuates the concept that women perform the “dirty work” at home, in most cases, almost exclusively for free. Although Delia is being paid a minimal salary for her work, she gets no rec...


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...y pulls from the idea of “the cult of domesticity” where a woman is expected to hinder her expression to allow for the domination of male opinion.
The breakthrough the narrator has comes at the end of the story. She sees a woman restricted by the lines of the yellow wallpaper that she has been surrounded by in her room. There comes a point where she connects with this figure trapped in the wall. Just like the figure is trapped behind this physical barrier, the narrator is trapped by the domestic expectations placed upon her. After ripping and tugging at the horrendous wallpaper all day, she succeeds! This is her final straw and where she realizes that she will no longer take the overpowering authority of her husband, “and I 've pulled off most of the paper, so you can 't put me back! " she exclaims. She has escaped the suppression that domesticity has placed on her.

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