The Oppressive Force In Marriage Essay

1380 words - 6 pages

In the novels written by Charlotte Gilman and Kate Chopin, the concept of marriage is contradicted from the romanticized relationship to a notion of imprisonment. Through the feminist perspective the reader gains a sense in which marriage may be the primary cause to gender oppression. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” Gilman’s central figure, who is unknown to the reader, is metaphorically imprisoned in a house in which the warden is her own husband. In contrast to this Chopin’s Character, Louise Mallard, gains a sense of liberation from a bleak marriage. It is clear that there two works illustrate how the characters are imprisoned through marriage. In both works there is a fine-line between the concept of domesticity and masculinity that ties to a form of illness that both characters have. Physicians and doctors recommend that these women must be detained and must remain at home where they are sheltered and re-taught to be submissive towards authority (in this case men). The idea was to remain in the domestic sphere in order to attain the passive, normal life that was socially accepted at the time. In other words, the characters must convey that there were the ideal wives. Though both Mallard and the narrator of the Yellow Wallpaper admit that their husbands love and care for them, the readers seems to gain a sense that their marriages is what worsens their illness.
In Gilman’s short story, male dominancy is unmistakable. A primary example of this is through the narrator’s tonality that allows her to act submissive to her male counter-part. She comments on how she is treated by her husband and regularly uses his name. To note that “John says” (305) implies her willingness to comply with his instructions. For example, she quotes, “I get unreasonably angry with John sometimes... I think it is due to this nervous condition. But John says if I feel so, I shall neglect proper self-control; so I take pains to control myself-before him” (303). The narrator presents John as all-knowing. As a physician, he seems to know what is best for her and wishes to control her. The implication of male dominancy is evident throughout the entire work and this may be interrelated to domesticity and masculinity. In an article written by Christopher Kent, a professor at the University of Saskatchewan, he studies the concepts of masculinity and their interrelationships with the family during Victorian times.
The article titled, “Masculinity and the Family in the Victorian Period”, notes how there is a separation between the sexes of the time. Kent makes a comment on women in the domestic sphere as opposed to men who were free from domesticity. He states that: “In the official ideology of gender was woman’s sphere, there was a tension between masculinity and domesticity, particularly among the middle classes whose values were increasingly dominant in the Victorian period. Middle class masculinity has been seen entering a condition of crisis as domesticity became...

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