In The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir states that within a patriarchal society "woman does not enjoy the dignity of being a person; she herself forms a part of the patrimony of a man: first of her father, then of her husband" (82-3). Both Emily Grierson in William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily" and the narrator of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wall-Paper" are forced into solitude simply because they are women. Emily's father rejects all of her prospective mates; the husband of Gilman's narrator isolates her from stimulation of any kind. Eventually, Emily is a recluse trapped in a deprecated home, and the narrator in Gilman's story is a delusional woman confined to her bed. A study of the characterization and setting of "A Rose for Emily" and "The Yellow Wall-Paper" demonstrates how the oppressive nature of patriarchy drives the women in both stories insane.
The "patrimony of a man" destroys Emily as her father smothers her with his over-protectiveness. He prevents her from courting anyone as "none of the young men were quite good enough for Miss Emily and such" (82). When her father dies, Emily refuses to acknowledge his death; "[W]ith nothing left, she . . . [had] to cling to that which had robbed her" (83). When she finally begins a relationship after his death, she unfortunately falls for Homer Baron who "liked m...
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---. Faulkner in the University. Ed. Frederick L. Gwynn and Joseph L. Blotner. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 1959.
---. "A Rose for Emily." Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. 3rd ed. Orlando: Harcourt, 1997. 80-87.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "Why I Wrote 'The Yellow Wall-Paper.'" The Forerunner. October 1913. Online. An American Literature Survey Site. 14 November 1998. Available HTTP: www.cwrl.utexas.edu/~daniel/amlit/index.html
---. "The Yellow Wall-Paper." Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. 3rd ed. Orlando: Harcourt, 1997. 160-73.
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