Analysis Of William Dean Howells Editha And The Yellow Wall-Paper

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William Dean Howells’ “Editha” features a woman of the same name who reads romantic novels and parrots what she reads from newspapers. Her fiancé Gearson is a pacifist, but she convinces him to join the army and fight in the war. He dies in battle, and Editha mourns this loss; however, she never comprehends her role in his death. “The Yellow Wall-paper,” written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is told by journal entries of a nameless woman. The narrator suffers from postpartum depression and is isolated in the attic of a country house. She becomes obsessed with the yellow wallpaper in her room and her minor illness turns to insanity. “Editha” and “The Yellow Wall-paper” both show the danger of gender stereotyping; each protagonist is marginalized…show more content…
The narrator is subjected to the “rest cure” in an attempt to treat her postpartum depression. In prescribing the rest cure, her doctor husband removes her completely from the only sphere women were allowed—the domestic—and leaves her in near total seclusion; though a common prescription for the time, the rest cure is the exact opposite of what a woman experiencing postpartum depression needs. Interestingly, the only person who understands what the narrator needs is the narrator herself. She writes, “Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good” (1670). Despite her personal knowledge, the narrator is forced to submit to her treatment; the law of coverture prevented access to any “legitimating social apparatus” to defy her husband’s will (DeGruyter 201). Even though the narrator knew her treatment was counterproductive, she was forced to work within the framework of male domination. She is isolated against her will to treat a female specific illness, yet powerless to advocate for herself in the public arena because she is a

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