How much would you sacrifice to have the ability to make your own decisions? What would you do to be truly free; from debt, poverty, sadness, addiction, or from anything that causes you misery, pain or unhappiness? Would you risk insanity or even your life? Both “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin are two short stories that can today be categorized as feminist works of fiction. The main characters are females who are struggling for freedom from their husbands. Although the characters situations differ and the women react differently once they are aware of their suppression, the authors use similar motifs, imagery and themes. Both Gilman and Chopin use irony and the themes of repression of women in marriage and the importance of freedom to suggest that liberation from oppression can only be achieved through drastic means.
Irony, of all types, is rife in Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Dramatic irony occurs within the first thirty lines, as the narrator describes some of the bizarre aspects of her bedroom. She states that the room was previously a nursery and a gymnasium as the “windows are barred for little children, and there are rings and things in the walls” (327). When she reveals more details about the room, that the wallpaper and floor is scratched and ravished and that the bed is nailed down, it becomes plausible to the reader that the room was not previously used as a nursery, but instead as a room to house an insane person. Irony is present even in the other characters in this short story. The narrator’s husband, John, is a physician as prescribes rest to cure the temporary nervous depression (326) that ails his wife. This treatment only allows the narrator to sit around, think, and obsess it eventually just causes her to become more anxious and leads her mind further towards madness.
Likewise, in Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” there are examples of both dramatic
Cited: Chopin, Kate. “The Story of an Hour.” Literature. Eds. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 6th ed. New York: Longman, 2010. 316-318. Print Perkins Gilman, Charlotte. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Literature. Eds. X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia. 6th ed. New York: Longman, 2010. 325-336. Print.