preview

Confined Women of the Nineteenth Century

Powerful Essays
In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, both authors provide evidence for readers to conceptualize the stories through the critical lens of feminism. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a story about the unnamed narrator who is taken to an ancestral home by her husband John to be treated for her nervous depression. Meanwhile, she develops a strong dislike for the yellow wallpaper in the bedroom that the narrator is restricted to. The narrator ultimately becomes hopelessly insane in hopes of relieving the women trapped by the wallpaper. Similarly, The House of Mirth tells the story of Lily Bart, a young woman who is trapped by societal standards. She struggles between the relationship of riches, love, and respect. Lily never achieves her goal of marking her status as a social elite because she overdoses and dies at the end of the novel. The narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Lily from The House of Mirth both struggle throughout their womanhood. Edith Wharton and Charlotte Gilman use different point of views to emphasize how eternal forces, such as entrapment, powerlessness, and subordinance of women ultimately lead to their overwhelming confinement in the nineteenth century society.
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman immediately gives readers the most important elements at the beginning of the short fictional story. At the opening of the story, the narrator states how her husband John has brought their family to live in an ancestral home for the summer. The narrator considers the house to be strange, but John is quite too practical to see things the way that she does. He already fails to believe that the narrator is actually sick. The narrator begins to take readers on her ever-changin...

... middle of paper ...

...ness, and subordinance of the world. “The Yellow Wallpaper” and The House of Mirth essentially promote Gilman and Wharton’s demand for change, and illuminate a woman’s struggle to obtain equal possibilities in society through several different viewpoints in these notable works.

Works Cited
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Cassill, R.V. The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction. 5th Edition. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1995. Print.
Restuccia, Frances L. "The Name Of The Lily: Edith Wharton's Feminism(S)." Contemporary Literature 28.2 (1987): 223. Literary Reference Center. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.
Sommerville-Thompson, Mina L. "'Re-Viewing' Charlotte Perkin Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper' Beyond Feminism." CCTE Studies 76.(2011): 33-41. MLA International Bibliography. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.
Wharton, Edith. The House of Mirth. New York: Signet Classic, 1980.
Get Access