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A Comparison Of Steinbeck's The Chrysanthemums And Gillman's The Yellow Wallpaper

1673 words - 7 pages

Gender Inequality: A comparison of Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” and Gillman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”

Throughout history, Women have experienced a time when they did not have equal rights as men. It was defined as a time when women were stuck in a patriarchal society in which women were dependent on men, giving them complete control over everything. This was a major issue during the early 1900’s. It was during this time that numerous authors used this pressing issue to create renowned works of literature. Both Charlotte Perkins Gillman and John Steinbeck explore this issue in their works, “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “ The Chrysanthemums.”

The Yellow Wallpaper, written in 1892, describes a women trapped under the control of her husband. Her strict domestic roles leave the impression that women were treated as property and not as individuals. From the beginning when describing their summer house as, “Something queer about a house so large and beautiful, yet rented to them at such a reasonable price, she continued “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in a marriage (Gillman.)” it is perceived that her husband thinks of her as inferior and thinks of her a child when it comes to her opinions.
Suffering from anxiety and post partum depression, she consults with her husband who happens to be a doctor for help. Using his authority as a doctor, he constantly informs her that there is nothing wrong and rest and time will make her better, even though it isn’t true. For the wife, she needs a way to express her emotions and have an outlet for what she is feeling which writing has provided her in the past, but is now forbidden.

Throughout the story she is forced to hide her illness for the sake of keeping her happy marriage with her husband. She is unable to stand up for herself and override her husband’s authority. She states,
“I sometimes fancy that in my 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(Gillman ).”
At this point the wife has become brainwashed in the sense that the husband has become the voice of reason in her head. John uses his job as a physician to abuse his power and ignores her symptoms for fear of being wrong in his diagnosis.

By the end of the story, the wife has completely entered a nervous breakdown when she is in the room with the yellow wallpaper. According to Karen Ford,
“If the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” in any sense discovers women’s discourse, it exists in the blankness behind the wallpaper. She certainly associates that blankness with freedom: “I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” (36)(Ford) ”
It becomes obvious that there is no cure for the wife as long as she is under the care of her husband. The yellow wallpaper is her only outlet in the sense of her anxiety. She has become trapped in her...

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