"The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin and "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman share the same view of the subordinate position of women in the late 1800's. Both stories demonstrate the devastating effects on the mind and body that result from an intelligent person living with and accepting the imposed will of another. This essay will attempt to make their themes apparent by examining a brief summery of their stories and relating them to their personal histories. It will reveal this theme further through analysis of setting, visual and conceptual symbolism, and by exploring the relationships between the characters in each story.
In the "Story of an Hour", we are told that Louise has a bad heart condition. A friend of the family has discovered that there was a bad accident at her husband?s job and he is on the deceased list. Louise?s sister carefully tells her this distressing news; however, instead of falling apart, Louise finds herself feeling as if she has a new lease on life because she will finally be able to live for herself. Suddenly, her husband walks in the door, and shocked, Louise drops dead of a heart attack. The physician says it was from "a joy that kills" (341-342).
In "The Yellow Wallpaper", the main character is attempting to heal from a nervous disorder. Her physician prescribes the "rest cure" which allows her to do nothing: no housekeeping, no writing, and no visiting with family or friends. She cannot even play with her baby. Her husband insists that she stay in a room upstairs and she eventually goes insane.
Both Chopin and Gilman borrow from real events in their lives when writing these stories. Kat...
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...V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc. Simon Schuster/ A Viacom Company, 1998. 542-553.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "Why I Wrote ?The Yellow Wallpaper?" Ed. Catherine Lavender; The College of Staten Island of the City University of New York, Fall Semester, Oct. 1997. (25 Jan 1999) http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/history/lavender/whyyw.html
McChristie, Pat. "Women Need to Work" Copyright: 1998. Cyberwoman (30 Jan 1999) http://www.cyberparent.com/women/needwork.htm
Wyatt, Neal "Biography of Kate Chopin" English 384: Women Writers. Ed. Ann M. Woodlief Copyright: 1998, Virginia Commonwealth University. (26 Jan. 1999) http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/eng384/katebio.htm
"Why are Women Leaving Marriage in Droves?" Marriage. Copyright: 1998. Cyberwoman (30 Jan 1999) http://www.cyberparent.com/women/marriage1.htm
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