A Comparison of The Yellow Wallpaper and Daisy Miller

A Comparison of The Yellow Wallpaper and Daisy Miller

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Society continually places specific and often restrictive standards on the female gender.  While modern women have overcome many unfair prejudices, late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century women were forced to deal with a less than understanding culture.  Different people had various ways of voicing their opinions concerning gender inequalities, including expressing themselves through literature.  By writing a fictional story, authors like Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Henry James were given the opportunity to let readers understand and develop their own ideas on such a serious topic.

        In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper, the main character is a symbol for all repressed women of her time.  Throughout the entire story, her name is never mentioned, alluding to the fact that the women of her era simply lacked their own personal identity.  Her husband treated her as a frail and incapable being.  He laughed at her fears, and disregarded her concerns as frivolous worries.  She recognized this as nothing beyond the normality, and accepts it because that is what her society deems standard.  When commenting that there must be something queer about a house so large and beautiful, yet rented to them at such a reasonable price, she continued “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in a marriage” (1).  John continually tells her that her illness is psychological, and encourages her to try and get more fresh air, for her own efforts will be the best for a quicker recovery.  However, on the one occasion she asks him for permission to visit her Cousin Henry and Julia, he denies her so, leaving her in tears and telling her she could not handle such a trip.

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... the liberation of women everywhere.  One can easily recognize, however, that times were not always so generous as now, and different women found their own ways of dealing with their individual situations.  Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s character created a twisted image of the world in her mind, and eventually became mentally insane.  While most cases were not so extreme, this character was imperative in creating a realization of such a serious situation. 

James’ character did what most rebellious young American women would do.  She broke free from cultural restrictions and lived her life as she pleased.  A woman of passion, she chose to ignore the repressive attitudes of those around her.  Women of today are still fighting for equality, but have authors of the past and women like the characters in their stories to thank for the improvements they made.

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A Comparison of The Yellow Wallpaper and Daisy Miller

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