Characters' Multiple Narrative Subjectivities Creates Conflicts

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“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Atonement by Ian McEwan are about women who in their own rights are subjective to the postmodern world around them, and especially other characters in the story. This is done in “The Yellow Wallpaper” through Jane, an older woman while in the Atonement it is Briony, a young English girl. The concept of multiple narrative subjectivity revolves around the personal attachment to persons with both stories. The interpretation of the truth is different for both protagonists: Jane in “The Yellow Wallpaper” because of differences in profession and Briony in Atonement because of differences in the age. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, John, who is the protagonist’s husband (and also physician) confines her in solitary confinement, telling their friends and relatives that she is suffering from temporary nervous depression. Since John is of high standing, it is hard for Jane to oppose John since her brother also a physician of high reputation gives support to her husband John’s claim: “He does not believe I am sick! 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…What is one to do? My brother is also a physician… he says the same.” (Gilman 60). It can clearly be seen that Jane is confined to her opinion which is subjective and defensive to the opinion of her husband due to their professions. John is a practical man who believes in only things felt and seen with which figures would best describe. He has intense dislike of superstition with no patience in belief or faith, most likely due to his profession. This brings out the constant battle of superiority between male... ... middle of paper ... ...uline aspect of society. In Atonement, the feminine side is suppressed and confined to the household duties of caretaking while the men are free to go about their business. The aspect of male dominance is exemplified in both writings by touching on issues pertaining to the male dominated world. This results in a difference in the opinion of the women: Jane in “The Yellow Wallpaper” due to differences in profession with her husband, and Briony in Atonement due to differences in age with the other characters in the novel. This subjective narrative of these women results in psychological conflicts between them and other characters. Works Cited Gilman, Charlotte Perkin. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The Broadview Anthology of Short Fiction. Ed. Julia Gaunce, Suzette Mayr. Ontario: Peterborough, 2005. Print. McEwan, Ian. Atonement. Toronto: Vintage Canada. 2001. Print.
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