Comparative Essay ¡V Theme and Characterization

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¡§The Last Leaf¡¨ by O. Henry and ¡§The Yellow Wallpaper¡¨ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman are essentially two very different pieces of writing when looked at from a perspective on story style. However, that is not the aspect we are focusing on. In terms of both stories¡¦ theme and characterization method, the themes are actually quite similar with some differences but the characterization process is very different, except for the antagonists. In the following paragraphs, here are the main points and elements I will address. I will talk about the similarities and show evidence regarding the themes of the role of women and science versus faith; how women repression plays a big role in the themes as well as faith prevailing against science. I will also talk about how the characterization methods are vastly different for the protagonists and antagonists in both stories, a comparison between Johnsy as the protagonist and the actual narrator as a protagonist as well. Minor characters will also be thoroughly discussed, such as the indirect characterization of the Doctor in ¡§The Last Leaf¡¨ when put next to Jennie from ¡§The Yellow Wallpaper¡¨. I will now talk about the similarities regarding the theme ¡§role of women¡¨ in both stories. In one of the scenes from ¡§The Last Leaf¡¨, there is a particular phrase from the Doctor in the story to Johnsy when she is sick- and I quote, ¡§Paint? - bosh! Has she anything on her mind worth thinking twice - a man for instance?¡¨ This sentence quite simply implies the fact that men are important, and that painting is considered foolish. An ulterior meaning could be the fact that it¡¦s trying to say that men is superior to women. Other possible evidence supporting this could be the fact that Sudie (the only other woman in the story) is portrayed as someone taking care of things and the chores around the household, perhaps showing qualities of a housewife. In ¡§The Yellow Wallpaper¡¨, it is almost a mirror image of this discrimination against women except when it gets out of hand; turning into a repression and a form of control. In the story, John the husband and physician is constantly condescending and patronizing to the narrator, belittling her in many cases. Here is one example from the text, ¡§Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said he would go down cellar, if I wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain.¡¨ Once again, it implies the men > woman superior factor. Also, the story portrays women¡¦s role at home, taking care of the baby and such, similar to Sudie in ¡§The Last Leaf¡¨. Both stories have a theme revolving around women¡¦s discrimination and repression, especially relating to the two protagonists in the story. However, there are also some differences in the ¡§women¡¦s role¡¨ theme. Firstly, while the narrator from ¡§The Yellow Wallpaper¡¨ is repressed and controlled by her husband, Johnsy and Sudie only suffer from slight sexual discrimination. The narrator is a housewife either way, even if she gets better from her sickness. Johnsy and Sudie aren¡¦t and won¡¦t necessarily become housewives; they paint and they have a future career. The narrator suffers from her husband but Johnsy and Sudie are looked down upon in general; in work or among other things. A main difference between both characters and ultimately the theme is that the narrator from ¡§The Yellow Wallpaper¡¨ is obedient yet possesses an inner desire for freedom; we can see this in what she says, ¡§Personally, I disagree with their ideas.¡¨, ¡§Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do?¡¨, and ¡§I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus¡Xbut John says the very worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad.¡¨ Meanwhile, Johnsy and Sudie aren¡¦t controlled and they indeed are ambitious - quoting Johnsy, "Sudie, someday I...
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