Compare & Contrast Mrs. Mallard, "The Story of an Hour" to Jane, "The Yellow Wallpaper"

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Diverse authors use diverse strategies to catch a reader's attention. Both Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman were women ahead of their time; they wrote stories that were socially unacceptable but are now considered some of the greatest. In Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour," the protagonist, Mrs. Mallard, dies of a heart attack after hearing of her husband's death. Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote "The Yellow Wallpaper" with a blasphemous plot at the time: a woman, Jane, bedridden because of depression, begins to see a woman underneath the wallpaper of her rented mansion. By the end of the story, Jane believes that she is the woman under the wallpaper. In both stories, the diseased and doubted women enclose serious mental and emotional problems.

The women's diseases are evident even from the beginning of the story. Jane, the narrator and protagonist in "The Yellow Wallpaper," was diagnosed by her husband and physician as having a "temporary nervous depression" (Perkins Gilman 425). She is placed in a rented mansion for a change of scenery to help her recover from her illness and is bedridden for most of her stay. Jane also tells of the many tonics and "phosphates or phosphites" (425) that she takes to help her recuperate. Kate Chopin sets up the story in the first sentence by writing about Mrs. Mallard's distress caused by heart problems. Chopin leads the reader to believe that such stated inflictions are physical, though the disease was never properly named. Throughout the story the plot thickens and the reader can deduce that Mrs. Mallard's disease is not a physical one. Chopin uses expressions such as "no powerful will bending her" (Chopin 524) and "she did not hear the story . . . with a paralyzed inability to accept its significance" (523) to convey Mrs. Mallard's true dislike of her husband. Chopin prolongs the suspense by ending the story on the same note that she began it – she names Mrs. Mallard's death that of "heart disease – of...
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