Compare and Contrast “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “No Name Woman” “The Yellow Wallpaper” tells the story of the narrator’s personal battle with after-birth depression and the disastrous rest cure treatment she received. Living during the restrictive Victorian period, the narrator experienced firsthand the frustrating limitations placed on women in her era, many of whom were victimized by society’s complete misunderstanding of postpartum depression and other psychological infirmities. On the other hand, “No Name Woman” tells the story of Maxine Hong Kingston’s recall of the events of her aunt's life in the vague world of her Chinese roots. The story is of her aunt who was persecuted for having an illegitimate child as a result of an affair as told by her mother. She develops the events into an inquiry story in order for her to determine her missing Chinese personality and help her understand her culture better. These two stories are written from different perspectives and backgrounds which make them contrast in some ways. The two stories, however, possess themes that emphasize similar issues which make them comparable. “The Yellow Wallpaper” was written around the same time period as “No name Woman;” nonetheless, each story gives a representation of two different perspectives in different countries. “The Yellow Wallpaper;” a short story was written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in the late nineteenth century. The events in “The Yellow Wallpaper” take place in a home in America, essentially in a bedroom inside the house. The narrator is a mentally ill young woman,
and the descriptions of the story are told from the perspective of the narrator- focal pointing on her thinking, feelings, and perceptions. Information learned or seen in the story is clarified through the narrator’s shifting consciousness, and since the narrator goes mad over the course of the story, her perception of reality varies with that of the other characters. The narrator is in a state of apprehension for much of the story, with moments of sarcasm, anger/bitterness, and desperation. On the other hand, “No Name Woman” is a memoir written by Maxine Hong Kingston in the mid nineteenth century. The events in this story happened in a Village in China, and the narrator of the story is the author herself. Kingston is constantly angry and resentful, and childish at times. The difference in the geographical aspects of the two stories emphasizes a contradiction. Both narrators of these two stories are silenced in one way or another. The theme of silence and voice in “No Name Woman” and the theme of the importance of self expression in “The Yellow Wallpaper” represent this issue. Each story tells a representation of how women were silenced by men and the society as a whole, even from the two different perspectives. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the mental constraints placed upon the narrator are the ultimate cause of her insanity. She is forced to hide her worries and fears in order to preserve the disguise of a happy marriage, and to make it seem as if she is victorious in her battle against depression. From the start, the most excruciating aspect of her treatment is the mandatory silence and hibernation of the resting cure. She is compelled to become completely inactive, and she is forbidden from exercising her intellectuality in any way. Writing is particularly forbidden, and John admonishes her several times that she must use her self-control to restrain her imagination, which he fears will run away with her. The narrator’s eventual absurdity is a result of the repression of her
imaginative power, not the expression of her imagination. She is constantly aspiring for an emotional and intellectual outlet, even going to the extent of keeping a secret journal, which she refers to frequently as a relief for her mind. For Gilman, a mind that is kept in a state of forced idleness is destined to self destruction. The narrator states, “If a physician of high standing,...
Cited: Gilman, Perkins Charlotte. “The yellow Wallpaper.” The Longman Anthology of Women’s Literature. Mary K. Deshazer. New York: Longman, 2001. 264-274.
Kingston, Hong Maxine. “No Name Woman.” The Longman Anthology of Women’s Literature. Mary K. Deshazer. New York: Longman, 2001. 308-315.
The Longman Anthology of Women’s Literature. Wake Forrest University. New York: Longman, 2001. 264-274, 308-315.
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