Comparing Women by Henry James and Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Comparing Women by Henry James and Charlotte Perkins Gilman In American literature, women have been portrayed differently depending on the sex and race of the author. Henry James who wrote “Daisy Miller: A Study” (1878) characterized Daisy as a tramp who breaks expatriate social customs. When a male writes about a woman, she is sometimes portrayed as a troublemaker and often up to no good. On the other hand, in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892), the narrator is trapped by domestic life. When a woman writes about women, they are usually victims of their society. James and Gilman each seem to display women differently because of their own sex, personal preferences, and experiences. Henry James, a white male, shows the reader what happens to a young lady when she isn’t conservative and goes around town with men without supervision. Daisy Miller was perceived as a tramp because of her actions and the society during this time period. The main character of “Daisy Miller: A Study” (1978) is Miss Daisy Miller, an American girl, who is traveling with her mother and brother in Vevey and Rome. Throughout her traveling, Daisy’s actions were considered inappropriate for a young unmarried woman. During her first visit to Vevey, she began to converse with Winterbourne, an American male that is visiting his aunt in Vevey, without a chaperone. In Vevey at this particular time, it was very inappropriate for a girl to talk to a man unattended by either a chaperone or her mother. James states, “In Geneva, as he had been perfectly aware, a young man was not at liberty to speak to a young unmarried lady…he wondered if he had gone too far; but he decided that he must advance farther, rather than retreat” (471). Ev... ... middle of paper ... .... Works Cited Dock, Julie Bates, Allen, Daphne Ryan, Palaris, Jennifer, and Tracy, Kristen. “‘But One Expects That’: Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and the Shifting Light of Scholarship.” PMLA 111 (1996): 52-65. JSTOR. Penn State U. 7 April 2005. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Ed. Nina Baym. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003. 832-844. ---. “Why I wrote ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’” Ed. Nina Baym. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003. 844-845. James, Henry. “Daisy Miller: A Study.” Ed. Nina Baym. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003. 468-506. Ohmann, Carol. “Daisy Miller: A Study of Changing Intentions.” American Literature 36 (1964): 1-11. JSTOR. Penn State U. 3 Feb 2005.

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