ENGL 2323 (T TH 7:30AM)
The Idea of Freedom and Oppression
The themes of freedom and oppression, especially from a feminist perspective, are extremely popular within multiple stories written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Through the duration of multiple stories that have been discussed, the central character longs for freedom that has been taken away. This is seen most clearly in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”. Each of these stories displays the struggle of women being denied their own freedoms due to societal norms of the time and other oppressive forces, such as marriage or an oppressive husband, each faced in their life.
Society, in a sense, thought of women as slightly inferior to men around the time period of the late 19th century. The views of women were not considered nearly as much as a man’s opinion was. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the opinion of the girl suffering from illness is seemingly ignored when she states that “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?” (Gilman 478). Since the narrator’s husband is a doctor, and also because of her lack of formal education in the medical field, her opinion is quickly tossed aside without regard to how she may feel. Although the narrator may know what treatment is best for her because she knows exactly how she feels inside, her husband’s diagnosis in the only one considered and she falls victim to his oppressive force. A somewhat similar oppressive force is seen in Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”. Even though both women are oppressed, Mrs. Mallard is the only one out of the two women who aren’t abused by her significant other. Mrs. Mallard is married to a Mr. Brently Mallard who, from what the reader observes, is a decent husband. He was loving and kind as a husband should be. Mrs. Mallard is in no way abused by her husband, but instead feels the oppression of marriage in general. Once news of her husband passing in a local train accident, she discovers she is now free of the oppressive forces of her husband. “There would be no one to live for during those coming years; she would live for herself. There would be no powerful will bending hers” (Chopin 477). She now has the opportunity to live for herself for the rest of her life. Since Mrs. Mallard is of a certain age, society finds it acceptable for her to choose not to remarry. She finds joy in the isolation she has now been given. The chance to make her own decisions has finally presented itself and she wants nothing more than to be able to live life by her rules.
Since society views...