Kate Chopin’s Story of an Hour and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper are both great stories that show they were trying to prove that they were more human than women. Both of these stories are personifications of feminist literature. Therefore, I feel that in each story each author was trying to break away from this and prove that they were more human than women. In each story, masculinity/femininity is presented in the characters and their actions and through these presentations, the concept of stereotypes are either endorsed or destabilized. In Chopin’s The Story of an Hour, the main character, Mrs.Mallard, is knowledgeable of the right way for women to behave, her thoughts, emotions and feelings, however are in contrast not so conventional. From the story’s beginning, she is introduced as Mrs.Mallard and referred to as “she” for most of the account. This anonymity and namelessness placed on her symbolizes the loss of individuality and identity of women that patriarchy seeks to keep intact. It is not until paragraph 16 of the story that the reader learns her name. It is when she stated that she has become “Free! Body and soul free!” (Chopin, 1904/2013, pg.1610) that she is addressed by her own name, Louise. It is her sister, Josephine, who calls out to her using her Christian name, Louise, which proves to be the male form of Louis and similarly, Josephine’s name is the male form of Joseph. The irony of the names, reveal that even within a personal femininity the masculine agenda cannot be quelled and patriarchy rules are dominant. Mr. Mallard’s death gives Mrs.Mallard her liberation and frees her from her marriage. However, when she finds out her husband is not dead she soon passes away and this may be symbolic of her ultimate freedom from the strains of patriarchy. Parallel to this plot is Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. This story portrays a female narrator who meets restriction by her husband from writing, because he disapproves of this desire. As Jane suffers from depression, he represses her creativity and imaginative skills through his efforts to “help” her. Jane states,” So I take phosphates or phosphites- whichever it is- and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work” until I am well again” (Gilman, 1935/2013, pg.1670). His attempts at “helping” her prove to be futile and in turn portray his wife as a helpless child rather than a women in her own right; she is subdued and dependent. The narrator is trapped in a room surrounded by the yellow wallpaper and by the end of the story she strips off most of the wallpaper with the efforts of trying to find her true identity. I feel that both of these stories are trying to portray that the authors are more human than women because the concepts are both very similar and they both display the conflict of feminism. Both authors, in their own unique way, show that they are trying to break away from that stereotype and want to be considered more human. I think that Chopin and Gilman were both successful in proving their point.
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