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The Controlling Lives of Women“The Birthmark,” by Nathaniel Hawthorne and “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman presents the unjustified treatment of women and expresses the oppression of them in the 19th century. In the stories it perceives the agonizing wives, and the cruel treatment they receive from their husbands. The stories also demonstrates a stereotypical woman, like being a housewife, having little education, and the man of the house having power over them. Both stories involve married couples and how the husbands made there situations lead to more consequences and tribulation to their wives. These stories are important even in the present because they show the suffering of women in the past, what they had gone through, and how men had more privileges than women. It reminds us how important equal rights no matter thegender.
“The Birthmark,” was about a couple, Aylmer, the scientist, and Georgiana, the beautiful wife. Her beauty wasn’t enough for Aylmer, he obsesses over a flaw, the birthmark on her face. Georgiana stated, “I know not what may be the cost to both of us to rid me of this fatal birthmark. Perhaps its removal may cause cureless deformity; or it may be the stain goes as deep as life itself(15).” She knows the risk and it may cause her life but all she wanted was to make him satisfied, so she agreed. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” the husband, John, retains the narrator, the wife, from writing and tells her to do nothing and rest. In the beginning of the story the narrator states, “If a physician of high standing, and one’s own husband, assures friends and relatives that there is really nothing the matter with one but temporary nervous depression—a slight hysterical tendency—what is one to do(10)?” This explains how the wife does what she is told because John is a doctor and the husband. This is similar to “The Birthmark,” since they both listen to their husbands and agrees to their decisions because they believe they know what’s best for them especially the fact their husbands professions is important and respected.
In the stories, both husbands controlled their wives and convinced them to make dangerous decisions for them. The husbands are both alike because they are both selfish and they assume everything they view was right and moral. In “The Birthmark” a text that shows Aylmer is selfish states, “His love for his young wife might prove the stronger of the two; but it could only be by intertwining itself with his love of science, and uniting the strength of the latter to his own(1).” It is likely that he wanted to get rid of the mark for his benefits and to pursue more of his love for science not Georgiana. At the end of “The Birthmark” Aylmer succeeds and ,finally, gets rid of the mark, but ends up killing her, “Alas! it was too true! The fatal hand had grappled with the mystery of life, and was the bond by which an angelic spirit kept itself in union with a mortal frame(87).” Which shows that Aylmer was wrong and cannot go against nature and what it had offered him. The “Yellow Wallpaper” is also similar because both had controlling husbands and had believed they knew better for their wives. In the “Yellow Wallpaper” the husband, John, retains the narrator, the wife, from doing what she enjoys; “I sometimes fancy that in my condition if I had less opposition and more society and stimulus—but John says the very worst thing I can do is think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad. So I will let it alone and talk about the house(17).” Which was a poor idea of him to do because writing was what she loved and kept her sanity especially being in a room she didn’t want to be in. At the end, like in “The Birthmark” had made situations worse for the both of them because the husbands had tried to fix a problem that wasn’t even vast and could have been easily solved or avoided.
“The Birthmark” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” had husbands that have lucrative careers. The stories purpose is the inequality of women. At the beginning of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” signifies, “A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house, and reach the height of romantic felicity(2),” implicating that the narrator of the story and the husband are wealthy, and he has a successful career. In “The Birthmark” it states, “My brother is also a physician, and also of high standing, and he says the same thing(11).” This text validates that the men believes they are always accurate and correct. Though her brother and husband do have a “high standing,” this just proves more of the doubt of a woman’s capabilities, especially because they cannot get those careers or any careers at all, unlike her brother and husband, who has an educated life and profession. “It is unfortunate Mary is so good with the baby(48).” it provides evidence of how the women usually are housemaids, or a stereotypical woman like Mary and Jennie from “The Yellow Wallpaper” and John dominates them, because he is a man.The stories show the oppression and cruel treatment of women. “The Birthmark” symbolizes that men wants a flawless wife, but a perfect woman is nonexistent. “The Yellow Wallpaper” symbolizes how women are trapped wanting to set themself free from her confined life, controlled by men. Especially portraying the little rights women had and men expecting a stereotypical women.
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