Women's Issues in The Awakening by Kate Chopin, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Souls Belated by Edith Wharton

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Women's Issues in The Awakening by Kate Chopin, The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Souls Belated by Edith Wharton

In comparing the three authors and the literary works of women authors Kate Chopin (1850 -1904), The Awakening, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's (1860-1935), The Yellow Wallpaper, and Edith Wharton's (1862-1937) Souls Belated, a good number common social issues related to women are brought to light and though subtly pointed out are an outcry against the conventions of the time. In these three stories, which were written between 1899 and 1913, the era was a time in which it seems, that women had finally awaken to realize their social oppression and were becoming rebellious in their pursuit of freedom from the male-dominated societal convention in which they existed. They commenced viewing their social stature as unjustly inferior and realized that these conventions placed deterrents on their intellectual and personal growth, and on their freedom to function as an independent person. All three of these women authors have by their literary works, have voiced their strong unfavorable feelings about the patriarchal society in which they lived.

These women authors have served as an eye-opener for the readers, both men and women alike, in the past, and hopefully still in the present. (There are still cultures in the world today, where women are treated as unfairly as women were treated in the prior centuries). These women authors have impacted a male dominated society into reflecting on of the unfairness imposed upon women. Through their writings, each of these women authors who existed during that masochistic Victorian era, risked criticism and retribution. Each author ignored convention a...

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...ded her marriage as a full canceling of her claims upon life" (674).

In all the stories, the authors commonly depict propriety in marriage, a yearning for freedom from convention, loveless marriages, wealth and unconventional women. Chopin and Gilman imply that the mental illnesses experienced by their characters are due mainly, to male oppression. Chopin and Wharton write about infidelity, passion and love; and Chopin and Gilman write about women working for pay. All authors write about women who feel trapped by tradition and convention and all display abhorrence toward the social expectations set for women.


The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 5th Ed. W.W. Norton & Co. NY. 1998.

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening 672-690. Charlotte Gilman Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper 657-670. Wharton, Edith. Souls Belated 467-670
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