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Mental And Physical Confinement Of Women

879 words - 4 pages

In the “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Gilman and “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, the female characters are confined mentally and physically. In the 1890’s, when these stories were written, women did not have a role in society. A woman’s role in the house involved cleaning and keeping up the house, taking care of the children, and making a meal three times a day. The man’s role was to go out and work to make money for his family. He also took care of his wife. He acted as a leader, ruler, and doctor of his wife. Gilman and Chopin demonstrate how women are confined physically, how they are confined mentally, and how being restricted in these ways affect the women’s emotions, actions, and mental stability.
In “The story of an Hour,” Louise Mallard learns from Josephine and Richards that her husband, Brently, has died. She confines herself to the upstairs room. While Josephine and Richards believes that she is upstairs grieving, Louise is actually rather happy that she is finally free from being contained by her husband. Louise looks out the window at a big and beautiful world. She has a completely new view of the world now. The adventitious death of her husband allows her to start thinking about making decisions for herself and seeing things without his opinion. Much like Louise’s situation, the husband constantly contains the narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper,” to one room. She is enclosed in a large, yellow room because her husband says she is sick. The narrator is physically in need of human interaction. His keeping her inside this room is leading her to become more ill than she already is. Both of these women have been living with completely despondent spirits. As depicted in these two stories, Dorothy Hartman states, “ . . . throughout the nineteenth century, 95% of married women remained ‘at home.’”
Although Louise Mallard and the narrator are physically restrained, they are also mentally confined. The husband’s of both women make decisions for their wives. The women are not able to go outside, write or have journals, or make pronouncements about what she thinks needs to be done in her house or outside of her house. The husband’s are indebted to take care of their wives. He is the doctor, the worker, and their leader. The women must do what their spouse tells them to do. Women were not considered elegant in this time period: “ . . . [T]heir clothes often consisted of dirty and torn skirts and blouses, and messy hair [sic].” Kelley smith...

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