The Role Of Women In The Yellow Wallpaper And The Awakening

1378 words, 6 pages

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The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and The Awakening by Kate Chopin highlight the destructive nature of the Victorian Era. Gilman and Chopin’s Edna Pontellier experience the same feelings of repression within their highly structured worlds. The women are not only confined by society’s rigid expectations of them, but they are also trapped in deeply patriarchal relationships in which their feelings go unnoticed. Rather than being embraced for their individuality, the Victorian society attempts to mold them into “the ideal woman,” or the “mother-wife,” making light of their struggles, which lead to their own forms of self-liberation and eventual self-destruction.
The “mother-wife” persona sets forth the idea that a woman’s... View More »

Body Sample...


Utilizing the positions that the male characters hold in the stories – one as a physician and the other a businessman – Gilman and Chopin are able to reveal and then chastise the ways in which Victorian marriages further oppressed women. Both John and Mr. Pontellier patronize their wives through their treatment of them, which illustrates how their marriages are not partnerships, but instead relationships wherein lies an unequal balance of power. Rather than behaving as husband and wife, both marriages resemble a relationship between a parent and a child. The portrayal of the female protagonists as children reveals how society depicted women as dependent beings. In The Yellow Wallpaper, Gilman’s marriage with her husband is illustrated in this way. He calls her names like “blessed little goose” (794) and “little girl” (798), and while on the surface these nicknames sound loving, they contain undertones of condescension. With these nicknames, Gilman is able to uncover subtle ways in which her husband fails to take her and her condition seriously. She even writes, “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” (792). Gilman is now explicitly demonstrating how Victorian marriages condone men’s maltreatment towards their wives. Since it is the man who goes out and makes money while the woman is trapped within the walls of the home, society implicates that he is entitled to make a mockery of his wife. John laughs at Gilman just as a father would laugh at the innocence and naivety of his young daughter. He thinks everything she says is ridiculous and asserts ...

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