Essay PreviewMore ↓
Women have traditionally been known as the less dominant sex. Through history women have fought for equal rights and freedom. They have been stereotyped as being housewives, and bearers and nurturers of the children. Only recently with the push of the Equal Rights Amendment have women had a strong hold on the workplace alongside men. Many interesting characters in literature are conceived from the tension women have faced with men. This tension is derived from men; society, in general; and within a woman herself. Two interesting short stories, “The Yellow Wall-paper and “The Story of an Hour, “ focus on a woman’s plight near the turn of the 19th century. This era is especially interesting because it is a time in modern society when women were still treated as second class citizens. The two main characters in these stories show similarities, but they are also remarkably different in the ways they deal with their problems and life in general. These two characters will be examined to note the commonalities and differences. Although the two characters are similar in some ways, it will be shown that the woman in the “The Story of an Hour” is a stronger character based on the two important criteria of rationality and freedom.
In “The Yellow Wall-paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the unnamed female protagonist is going through a rough time in her life. (For now on, this paper will refer to this unnamed character as the “the narrator in ‘Wall-paper,’” short for “The Yellow Wall-paper. The narrator is confined to room to a room with strange wall-paper. This odd wall-paper seems to symbolize the complexity and confusion in her life. In “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard must also deal with conflict as she must deal with the death of her spouse. At first there is grief, but then there is the recognition that she will be free. The institute of marriage ties the two heroines of these two short stories together. Like typical young women of the late 19th century, they were married, and during the course of their lives, they were expected to stay married. Unlike today where divorce is commonplace, marriage was a very holy bond and divorce was taboo. This tight bond of marriage caused tension in these two characters.
How to Cite this Page
"Compare and Contrast Women in The Yellow Wallpaper and Story of an Hour." 123HelpMe.com. 18 Jul 2019
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Compare and Contrast Women Characters in The Yellow Wallpaper and Story of an Hour Women have traditionally been known as the less dominant sex. Through history women have fought for equal rights and freedom. They have been stereotyped as being housewives, and bearers of children. Only with the push of the Equal Rights Amendment have women had a strong hold on the workplace alongside men. Many interesting characters in literature are conceived from the tension women have faced with men. This tension comes from men, society, in general, and within a woman herself.... [tags: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper]
1277 words (3.6 pages)
- Struggle for Freedom in The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "The Story of an Hour" are two very similar stories. Both deal with middle-aged women who long to attain their freedom. They share the same theme, but convey the message differently in terms of style and quality. The two stories are about women who are fighting for freedom, happiness, and the ability to be truly expressive in any way possible. The greatest similarity is between the female protagonists of each story.... [tags: Comparison Compare Contrast]
1104 words (3.2 pages)
- Common Threads in The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour In her article "Why I Wrote 'The Yellow Wallpaper,'" as it appeared in The Forerunner (1913), Charlotte Perkins Gilman candidly reveals her personal story of mental illness and her subsequent journey to wellness after she rejected the "expert" advice of her physician. She retells the story, with some embellishments, in her short story "The Yellow Wallpaper." Her own nervous breakdown and prescribed "rest cure," popular at the time, brought her close to "utter mental ruin." With some help from a friend, and using what resources were left to her, she began to write again, intending to use this story as a means of saving o... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
1853 words (5.3 pages)
- Appearance versus Reality in Yellow Wallpaper, Story of an Hour, and Lottery Authors often write literature to have an emotional impact on the reader. These effects vary from work to work, and they may include happiness, sorrow, anger, or shock. Even authors who try to achieve the same effect may go about it in very different ways. This paper discusses three short stories written to shock the reader, but each uses a different method to achieve its effect. While Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" uses a sudden shift in plot at the end of a short narrative, Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" gives hints throughout the story preparing the reader for a shocking ending; in contrast, Char... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
1163 words (3.3 pages)
Comparing The Story of an Hour, by Kate Chopin and The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
- "The Yellow Wallpaper", by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and "The Story of an Hour", by Kate Chopin are two very similar stories. Both women were controlled by their husbands who caused them to feel an intense desire for freedom. However, the women in the stories had different life experiences and different reactions to their own freedom as a result of their different personalities. Mrs. Mallard in "The Story of an Hour" had to deal with a sort of burden. Her husband had control over her "body and soul".... [tags: compare contrast]
845 words (2.4 pages)
- Narrator and Point of View in The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour Both Gilman's and Chopin's stories are, in effect, stories of women who feel "trapped" by the men in their lives. Gilman uses first person narration to reveal a woman's "creeping" loss of reality to her readers, while Chopin allows us to experience the joy Louise Mallard felt upon hearing of her husband's death through third person narration. Interestingly, neither story would have been able to reveal either woman's psyche to impact the reader as successfully as both did had their individual narrations been attempted through another form.... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
1323 words (3.8 pages)
- Comparing Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 'The Yellow Wallpaper' and Kate Chopin's 'The Story of an Hour' 'The Yellow Wallpaper';, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and 'The Story of an Hour';, by Kate Chopin, are alike in that both of the women in the stories were controlled by their husbands which caused them to feel an intense desire for freedom. Both stories were also written from a feminist point of view. However, the women in the stories had different life changes and different responses to their own freedom as a result of that change.... [tags: Comparison Contrast Compare Essays Papers]
1083 words (3.1 pages)
- ... She has even been forbidden to leave the home supposedly to allow her to rest and recover her health. Mrs. Mallard in "The Story of an Hour" she had a weak heart and dealt with similar affliction. Mr. Mallard had control over her body and soul as she claimed “Free. Body and soul free” (Chopin2) She felt that he lived her life for her and did as it was said "not believe that anyone had the right to impose a private will on a fellow creature" (Chopin 2). This control caused both women to long for freedom from their husbands' behavior.... [tags: women, decisions, freedom, household]
874 words (2.5 pages)
- Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour Question #1 Compare and contrast women's roles and marriage in "The Story of an Hour" and "The Yellow Wallpaper." Mrs. Mallard had heart trouble and is very sick. After the news of her husbands death she locked herself in her room and all she could think was she was finally free. She knew she would weep again when she saw her husband with his hands folded in death, but all she could think as she sat in the room all alone was of the many years she would have ahead of her to only live for herself: "But she saw beyond that bitter moment a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely" (Danticat 138).... [tags: Kate Chopin]
1629 words (4.7 pages)
- In William Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper, the two main characters exhibit behavior that some readers may consider unusual or even totally crazy. These two women are having a difficult time adjusting to the many changes taking place around them. In the midst of these changes, they face the struggles of being women such as post partum depression and love and rejection from men. Such problems become so overbearing that each woman ends up in their own delusional world which in turn, leads to their isolation and insanity.... [tags: Compare, Contrast, Comparison]
602 words (1.7 pages)
- Essay Considering Gertrude of Shakespeare's Hamlet
- Essay on Social Conventions in Jane Eyre and Hedda Gabler
- The Tragedy of Human Nature in Shakespeare's Othello
- Influence of Emerson’s Self-Reliance on Gilman’s Yellow Wall-Paper
- Comparing the Use of Setting in The Shawl and The Portable Phonograph
- Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre - The Victories of Jane Eyre
The narrator in ‘Wall-paper” faced similar circumstances. Her husband, John, was a physician and imposed his will on her. Because men usually were the working partner of the household, they held a higher status compared to their spouses. With their leverage, they dominated and made the rules of the household. John fits that description well. Because his wife is suffering from a nervous depression, John confines her to the house and more specifically to a room. John regulates every detail of her life and is a male nemesis like Mr. Mallard is. In the narrator’s words, “So I take phosphates, or phosphites- whichever it is - and tonics, and air and exercise… and am absolutely forbidden to ‘work’ until I am well again. Personally, I disagree with their ideas” (Gilman 160). This disagreement inevitably leads to fighting. Says John, “My darling, I beg of you, for my sake and for our child’s sake, as well as your own, that you will never for one instant let that idea (obsession with the wall-paper) enter your mind” (Gilman 167). Although the narrator in ‘Wallpaper’ fight, they try to work things out. This is more than what can be said about Mrs. Mallard and her husband. Mrs. Mallard has a stronger need to get out of the relationship for her desires for freedom might be greater.
As far as the very important quality of rationality is concerned, there is a significant difference between these two main characters. Mrs. Mallard is the more rational of the two female herorines. She is very articulate and she knows what she wants. Her depictions of life are very clear and intelligent. For example, in her thoughts is this: “In a street below a peddler was crying his wares. The notes of a distant song which some one was singing reached her faintly, and countless sparrow were twittering in the eaves” (Chopin 71). With such depiction she reveals a sharp mind. Her sense of hearing is acute and she is very aware of her surroundings.
On the other hand, the narrator in ‘Wall-paper” is more irrational. As mentioned before, she is obsessed with the wall-paper in her room. She just stares at it with the intent of finding some meaning in her life. Being confined to her room, this is how she passes her time. She, however, gets too involved. Here is some of her crazy description: “But, on the other hand, they connect diagonally, and the sprawling outlines run off in great slanting waves of optic horror, like a lot of wallowing sea-weeds in full chase” (Gilman 165). Her expression is a little insane because her mind goes all over the place, for example ‘outlines run off in great slanting waves of optic horror.’ It is like she is seeing something she does not want to see. Also inanimate things like ‘seaweed’ seem alive. During the entire six week stay at the house, all her mental energies are put into dysfunctional tasks like figuring out the wall-paper. She has great trouble relating to others because of it. Short story critic, Conrad Shumaker, makes the point that “maybe the reason Gilman had the narrator unnamed was to show that as a person, she had completely lost her identity. Behind the bars of the wallpaper, she given up a sense of who was and really turned into a lost soul” (Shumaker 170).
With such a sad case for the narrator in ‘Wall-paper’, there is no doubt that Mrs. Mallard is the freer character at least during the brief time of the short story. Freedom, the second criteria of character judged in this essay, shows openness of expression and the ability to do as one pleases. With the news of her husband’s death, Mrs. Mallard shows an expression of great freedom many times in the short story. Here is one example, “Her fancy was running riot along these days ahead of her. Spring and summer days, and all sorts of days that would be her own” (Chopin 72). According to critic, Bert Bender, “Mrs. Mallard, one pioneer character in literature, shows a women with shocking unorthodox feelings about marriage. She shows great individual freedom and female independence” (Bender 79). Indeed, Mrs. Mallard seems a very independent woman for her times.
There are, however, two ways in which the narrator in ‘Wall-paper’ gets some sense of freedom. One way is through a journal that she privately keeps. It really is important to her as she writes, “But I can write (in my journal) when John’s sister is not in” (Gilman 164). This journal gives her the means to freely express herself. Another small source of freedom is the wallpaper itself. Although examining the wallpaper is overall bad for her, it is a little therapeutic. She can let loose her imagination and release tension. According to Shumaker, “Within her descriptions of the wallpaper appear to a potentially liberating force” (Shumaker164). In a way she has hours of entertainment. In her words, “You think you have mastered it, it turns a back-somersault and there you are, it (the wall-paper) slaps you in the face and knocks you down” (Gilman 167). As much as the narrator in ‘Wall-paper’ gets enjoyment, it must be noted that since she is confined to the attic throughout the story, her freedom is limited.
Although these two characters reside in the same era, the late 19th century, there are important differences between the two. By looking at a few key areas such as rationality and freedom, Mrs. Mallard seems to be the stronger character. Although her brief stint of joy was a short one it was very fulfilling and of high quality for “she saw a long procession of years to come that would belong to her absolutely. And she opened and spread her arms out to this welcome” (Chopin 71). Now it could be argued that since Mrs. Mallard died, she was in a way a weaker character but it must be remembered that “Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble” (Chopin 70), The narrator in ‘Wall-paper had too many personal problems with herself and with her relationship with John to be called a strong character.
There are many similarities between these two heroines in these two short stories. Due to the fact that they live in the same era, they face similar circumstances. They are both married and have domineering husbands. Also, in some way they both struggle for their rationality, however, Mrs. Mallard succeeds best in doing so. Both are confined to their reality, but the narrator in ‘Wall-paper’ falls into a worse - the wallpaper obsession. Overall, even with a relatively short life, Mrs. Mallard is a stronger character because she is more rational and freer. In sum, she has a more sane life and makes the most of what she has.
Bender, Bert. Short Story Criticism. Vol. 8. Ed. Thomas Votteler. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1991. 64-65.
Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” Literature: Reading, Reacting, Writing. 3rd Ed. Laurie Kirszner and Stephen Mandell. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1997. 70-72.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wall-paper.” Literature: Reading, Reacting,Writing. 3rd Ed. Ed. Laurie Kirszner and Stephen Mandell. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace, 1997. 160-172.
Shumaker, Conrad. Short Story Criticism. Vol. 13. Ed. David Segal. Detroit: Gale Research Inc., 1993. 164-170