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The Yellow Wallpaper and The Awakening

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Based on the late 19th century short stories, The Yellow Wallpaper and The Awakening, the authors depicted childbirth as a traumatic and even torturous experience, which left women to cope with the physical and mental health effects alone. Effects such as these impeded the mothers’ abilities to be the ideal ‘mother-woman’ to their offspring because in the eyes of patriarchal society, they were only existent in the domestic sphere and their feelings and emotions were null and void thus defining them as too weak to take on the strenuous demands of society. The expectations were that they exert minimal energy using intellect and instead maintain a household suitable for the husband and children.
Although many assumed that motherhood was supposed to yield a joyous and nurturing life, it was ultimately unfulfilling and limiting. Consequently, the characters rebelled against social conventions, with Edna of The Awakening exploring her identity and sexuality, and the narrator of The Yellow Wallpaper using her intellect to make a startling discovery of the woman behind the wallpaper. The social and domestic constraints of motherhood had detrimental mental and physical effects on the characters in these stories, and when they refused to conform to the limitations, this failure led to their crippling mental and physical breakdowns.
In The Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator suffered from a nervous depression after giving birth to her first child. Her husband was a doctor who confined her to a nursery room and prescribed her total rest. She was denied any strenuous activity and he forbids her to do any work until she was well. Her husband’s sister cared for her child while she was recovering as she was convinced it was the right th...

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...inst the social norms, although they may not have been ready to face the consequences. The male dominant society had repressed the women and their intellectual abilities so far to the point of retaliation. Confinement to the domestic sphere provided no outlet for work. Edna and the narrator were unable to pursue or didn’t have time for their artistic crafts because of societal and domestic constraints. The woman’s sole responsibility was domestic duties, but men failed to realize the overwhelming nature of such; quickly labeling women with a mental illness when she fell ill. It was all too demeaning to delve into the intellects of the woman who was viewed as: inadequate, inexperience, or incompetent. The characters’ feeling of solitude and perceptions of being outcasts of society were the stifling emotional issues that led Edna to death and the narrator to insanity.
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