Oppression In Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper And The Story Of An Hour

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Oppression in Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Kate Chopin both present intriguing short stories with the common theme of oppression that strongly mirrors their personal experiences. The narrator in Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” is portrayed as being trapped by her husband and suffering from mental illness. This is represented by the woman behind the wallpaper. Chopin shows oppression in “The Story of an Hour” by Mrs. Mallard’s joy after the “death” of her husband and her reaction when he returns. It is evident that the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Mrs. Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” represent the authors’ personal lives and oppression in women. Evidence suggests…show more content…
The narrator’s husband, John, is loving but also very over-protective of her. This is clearly shown when the narrator states, “He is very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction” (Gilman 3). This “special direction” is detrimental to the narrator because she can no longer make decisions for herself. This includes not being able to leave her own room unless her husband allows it. In Barbara A. Seuss writing, John S. Bak states, “The narrator is bound and gagged by her oppressive structures of her male imposed shackles” (79). This is clearly seen when John tricks her into believing the asylum she is staying in is actually a summer home. He manipulates her illness against her to keep her in the illusion that she’s on a vacation, but in reality her freedom has been revoked. The narrator eventually realizes that her husband and her sanity are holding her back from freedom. This is evident when the narrator states, “I’ve got out at last….. in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back” (Gilman 17)! The narrator tearing off the wallpaper represents freedom from her oppressive structures. She removed the things in her life that were holding her back from freedom. Similarly, Mrs. Mallard in “The story of an hour” gains freedom from her oppression by her…show more content…
Mallard was stuck in a marriage she wasn’t happy with. Although she loved Mr. Mallard, he was preventing her from being independent. This is seen after his “death” when Chopin writes, “When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath: “free, free, free!”” (1). Mrs. Mallard, although still grieving, is ecstatic about her newly found freedom. She realizes her husband can no longer oppress her. Just as Mrs. Mallard is accepting her new found freedom, Mr. Mallard walks through the front door in perfect health. Chopin writes, “When the doctors came they said she had died of heart disease- of joy that kills” (2). Ironically, the joy of her new found freedom is what caused her demise. The shock of her husband returning after the jubilation of his death was too much for her heart to handle. Although the shackles of her oppression were broken, her freedom was ripped away when he returned. This ultimately shows the futility of her

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