Topics of great social impact have been dealt with in many different ways and in many different mediums. Beginning with the first women’s movement in the 1850’s, the role of women in society has been constantly written about, protested, and debated. Two women writers who have had the most impact in the on-going women’s movement are Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The Awakening and The Yellow Wallpaper are two of feminist literature’s cornerstones and have become prolific parts of American literature. Themes of entrapment by social dictates, circumstance, and the desire for personal independence reside within each work and bond the two together.
Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman lived and wrote around the same time during the nineteenth century. This time period, like most others, is characterized by a society which the patriarch is the center and leader of the family structure. The protagonists in each story are women, who are trapped by the circumstances surrounding their current situations within society. Each protagonist finds liberation in very different ways, each leading to a downfall that is inescapable in the society of the time period. In The Awakening, Edna begins to learn and experience things that empower her and lead her to believe that she can become more independent. The new freedom that she enjoys is only fleeting as the dictates of society do not allow for such freedom from a married woman with children. The protagonist of The Yellow Wallpaper is trapped by a much different set of circumstances. Her husband believes she is mentally ill and begins to deprive her of the freedoms, such as writing, that she has previous...
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...orks could be the topic for countless doctoral dissertations. They are both intriguing and ambiguous, which leaves much up to discussion and speculation. The role of women in society has been and will continue to be a point of great debate and perpetual change. Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman have influenced other great women writers such as Toni Morrison and Alice Walker, and budding male writers such as Ben Eisner. The events and experiences of one’s upbringing help to shape future writings and ideas. Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman had different formative years, which are evident in their approaches to their characters and their ideas of women in society.
Chopin, Kate. The Awakening. Penguin Putman, Inc. New York. 1976
Perkins Gilman, Charlotte. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Writings. Random House, Inc. New York. 2000.
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