Laurell K. Hamilton spoke in great words that, “there are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.” Hamilton embodied a central state of mind of a person who is mentally ill. The wounds mentioned are those caused, and worsened, by traumatic events and public perception of a person with a mental illness. The women in the short stories that have been read embody an internal injury caused by an outward force. In “Story of an Hour”, “Rose for Emily”, and “Yellow Wallpaper” it is impactfully shown how traumatic life experiences can lead to and worsen mental illnesses.
“Story of an Hour” uses Louise Mallard’s repressed life as a wife to elucidate how repression can lead to bottled up depression. Louise Mallard understands the “right” way for women to behave, but her internal thoughts and feelings are anything but correct. This is first illustrated by the initial reaction to her husband’s death, where she cries instead of feeling numb, as she suspects other women would do. The death of her husband acts as a catalyst to alleviate her depression that rooted in her marriage. In the beginning of the story we are introduced to Louise’s heart problem, which shows the extent to which she believes her marriage has trapped her. The author of the story gives a vague description of Mallard’s heart condition just simply calling it a “heart problem” (Choplin 452). This vague description shows how her “heart problem” is both physical and emotional. The reader is given glimpses of into the turmoil within Louise and her depressed feelings that have been burrowed up within her because the traumatic experience of her husband “dying” illuminated the depression that she Louise was afraid to show in her marriage.
Louise is scared to show how she feels because the women in her society at the time we not supposed to be unhappy and they we definitely not supposed to articulate their unhappiness. Keeping all of her depression bottled up was like a dam that kept filling and filling up with water and eventually when her husband died the water stopped pouring and she felt relief. In Louise’s case her “traumatic experience” had an opposite effect on her than the other women in the short stories, her experience led to freedom and “She breathed a quick prayer that life might be long. It was only yesterday she had thought with a shudder that life might be long” (Chopin 454). Before Brently’s “death”, Louise viewed her life with trepidation, envisioning years of dull, unchanging dependence and oppression. The “shudder” before was the hollow feeling she felt inside herself, which she no longer felt inside. When Bentley returns, the dam floods inside Louise’s heart and her mental illness gets the best of her when her joy is once again taken from her through her marriage.
“Rose for Emily” uses the town’s perception of Emily and her father’s traditional values to illustrate how public and private views can eventually shape one’s...