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Feminism and Freedom in The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour

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In “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin we see how during this time, life revolves around how men view women and their qualities. “The Story of an Hour” relates to “The Yellow Paper” because they share ideas of feminism and freedom. Both stories show women who are trying to live up to societal standards in their journey for freedom. These two stories the doctors use rest treatment to deal with the conditions of the women. In ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,’ the main character is diagnost by her husband, an established doctor, with mental depression. Her husband and her move to an isolated mansion, unsuccessfully, to find a solution to her depression. Her husband forces her to stay in a specific room that she does not like therefore he is to blame for her suffering. He forces her to stay in a room without going out which takes away her freedom. In the ‘The Story of an Hour,’ the main character, also a woman, stays in a room alone in search of freedom. For her to live her life she wants to be separated from her husband. However, During this period she is denied liberty and stuck with her husband. Hence, she died of a heart attack her because of her denial of freedom.

The two stories describe two women are hopelessly seeking freedom but not receiving it because they are controlled by their husbands. In ‘The Story of an Hour,’ Louise confesses that since she got married, her life has been different. When she is informed that her husband has died, she has a feeling of happiness when she imagines life without him. She says that her soul and body are finally free (Chopin 543). However, she is disappointed after discovering that her husband has not died. Similarly, the woman in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is also not given freedom by her husband. The husband prevents her from spending her time in the room where she wants to stay. He does not allow her to do what she wants to do and become the person she wants to be (Gilman 846). In both stories, closed rooms are used to assist the reader in understanding private thoughts that go through the minds of the characters. When they are not in the rooms, the actions of the women are in accordance with societal expectations. However, when they are confined in the solitary rooms where they are not with their husbands, a significant change is observed. The woman in the “The Yellow Wallpaper” experiences mental problems, and she is restrained from any activity. When left alone in the room, her thoughts are only focused on the design of the wallpaper in the room until she becomes insane. At some point, she tries to free herself by destroying an image resembling a woman that she finds in the pattern. She attempts to find an identity with the woman and tries to look for freedom, but she becomes insane. 

In “The Story of an Hour,” Louise can relate to the narrator in “The Yellow Paper” because she is also confined in a room which eventually acts as the platform that leads her to ultimate freedom. In the room, the reader can understand what Louise is thinking. Just like the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper,’ she exhibits different behavior in the room. The rooms in these stories are used as avenues through which the characters destroy themselves.In “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Story of an Hour” the women are portrayed as people who achieve freedom by adhering to the societal norms. When Louise learns of the death of her husband, she confines herself in a room. While in the room, she experiences a feeling of confidence that she had not experienced before, as confirmed through her exclamations that she is free at last (Chopin 856). In “The Story of an Hour” she decides to change her life after being convinced that her husband is dead and could feel a sense of freedom by locking herself in the room. In ‘The wallpaper,’ this also happens to the wife of John, who is the main character in the story. Her sickness causes her to develop an abnormal obsession with the yellow wallpaper. The image of a woman that appears in the wallpaper seems like a symbol of her own confinement in the room. She sees herself as sharing similar circumstances with the image and decides to free it by destroying it. The destruction she does makes her feel as if she has eventually attained freedom (Gilman 543). These stories are, therefore, similar in that the women are finally freed from their circumstances. 

Another similarity between “The Story of an Hour” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” when women are described from a doctor’s perspective. In the 19th century, few women became doctors since only men were expected to be doctors. The authors of these two stories wanted to use doctors to bring out how men viewed women. The main character in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is the wife of a doctor. The doctor forces her to spend time in a rest cure because she is suffering from depression associated with a woman who has just given birth. Putting a person in a rest cure was a common type of treatment during the early days where patients were not expected to engage in any activity. The similarity of the wrong diagnosis is also displaced in “The Story of an Hour.” In this story, Louise is a victim of heart failure, which consequently causes her death. The doctors argue that her death might have been caused by the untimely sense of relief and joy she experiences after discovering that her husband is still alive. However, when the line of thought for the character before her death is analyzed, it is clear that the cause of her death is different. The doctors make a conclusion that Louise suffered from depression because she was too dedicated to her husband. In fact, what kills Louise is her failure to manage the overwhelming feeling that engulfs her after finally getting freedom. 

‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and ‘The Story of an Hour’ are descriptive of the role of women in society and their lack of independence. The stories suggest that women are capable of living independent lives without interference from their husbands. They work tirelessly to achieve freedom, but their naivety causes them to fail eventually. this proves that both stories suggest a possible change where women will have power in society. This will enable them to live their own lives without being controlled by their men.  

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Feminism And Freedom In The Yellow Wallpaper And The Story Of An Hour. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 25, 2023, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/feminism-and-freedom-in-the-yellow-wallpaper-and-the-story-of-an-hour/
“Feminism And Freedom In The Yellow Wallpaper And The Story Of An Hour.” GradesFixer, 16 Dec. 2021, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/feminism-and-freedom-in-the-yellow-wallpaper-and-the-story-of-an-hour/
Feminism And Freedom In The Yellow Wallpaper And The Story Of An Hour. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/feminism-and-freedom-in-the-yellow-wallpaper-and-the-story-of-an-hour/> [Accessed 25 Mar. 2023].
Feminism And Freedom In The Yellow Wallpaper And The Story Of An Hour [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2021 Dec 16 [cited 2023 Mar 25]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/feminism-and-freedom-in-the-yellow-wallpaper-and-the-story-of-an-hour/
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