The Story of an Hour vs. the Yellow Wallpaper
"The Yellow Wallpaper," by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and "The Story of an Hour," by Kate Chopin, are stories written in the late 1800’s. Women in these days were repressed and did not have the freedom to go and do as they pleased. Both stories were also written from a feminist point of view.
The women in these stories are similar as well as different in several ways. Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" both used nature and the outside as freedom and success. The narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” describes, “There is a delicious garden! I never saw such a garden- large and shady, full of box- bordered paths, and lined with long grape-covered arbors with seats under them” (565). While the narrator of “ The Story of an Hour” describes, “There were patches of blue sky showing here and there through the clouds that had met and piled one above the other in the west facing her window” (338). Both authors are showing not only the story of their lives, but of many women’s lives at the time. By using a woman as the protagonist, and a man as the antagonist, they showed how women had a struggle to gain their freedom. The representation of a window holding them in from the nature in both stories showed how they were declined their natural rights as U.S. citizens. They both used personal experiences and caught the crisis of the time perfectly in each of their stories to show how hard of a time women had in the late 1800's. Both women experienced freedom from their husbands at some point. In “The Story of an Hour,” Mrs. Mallard strongly expressed her feelings. “She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free” (338)! Mrs. Mallard felt grief at first and such freedom and relief when she realized what her husband’s death meant. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator also expressed her feelings about being free from her husband during the day. “John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious. I am glad my case is not serious” (566)! The narrator was free to live out her fantasies with the wallpaper without the watchful eyes of her husband. Both women felt cloistered in these particular times.
In both stories, the men seem to put their wants and needs first. In “The Story of an Hour”, the narrator describes how, “There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself” (338). She had to live her husband’s life for him. Now that he was dead, she could live for herself. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” the narrator’s husband showed how possessive he is. “I don’t like our room a bit. I wanted one downstairs that opened onto the piazza and had roses all over the window and such pretty old fashioned chintz hangings! But John would not hear of it” (566). John was very selfish in not considering his wife’s wants and needs. He wanted a room that suited him best.
Both women do not seem to be mistreated but they live unhappy, trapped lives. Mrs. Mallard comments after learning of her husband’s death, “now there will be no powerful will bending her in that blind persistence with which men… believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature” (338). Whereas the narrator says in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “so I take phosphates or phosphites--whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am forbidden to work until I am well again” (565). The narrator’s husband also imposed his will upon her while she believed that work would have done her well (565). The main characters of both stories crave freedom. In “The Story of an Hour,” “She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long” (338). Mrs. Mallard was feeling trapped in her marriage that she was dreading life with her husband. She felt like she had freedom to look forward to upon hearing of his...
Cited: Chopin, Kate. "The Story of an Hour." Edgar V. Roberts and Robert Zweig. 10th ed. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. New York: Pearson Longman, 2012. 337-339. Print.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. "The Yellow Wallpaper." Edgar V. Roberts and Robert Zweig. 10th ed. Literature: An Introduction to Reading and Writing. New York: Pearson Longman, 2012. 565-574. Print.
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