The short stories “Souls Belated” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” have in common ‘Marriage’ as main theme. However, the marriage is treated quite differently in both short stories. In "Souls Belated", Lydia chooses to take control of her destiny, to deviate from conventions and to choose what is good for her. She is the strongest character of the couple. Whereas, in "The Yellow Wallpaper", the name of the main character who is also the narrator of the story is not known. She is identified as being John’s wife. This woman, contrary to Lydia in "Souls Belated" is completely locked up in her marriage. This essay will first describe and compare the characters of Lydia and John's wife in the context of marriage, and then it will look at how marriage is described, treated and experienced by couples in these two short stories.
Firstly, this part will focus on the characters of Lydia in "Souls Belated" and John's wife in "The Yellow Wallpaper" into the context of marriage and their perceptions of material duties. To find out what their roles in the relationship are, it is important to understand the characters of Lydia and John's wife, how they describe their marriages and their behaviour, in order to see how their choices affect in a positive or negative outcomes in their marriages.
In “Souls Belated”, at the end of the story, the omniscient narrator confides Gannett's thoughts on Lydia, and these thoughts help describe the character of Lydia in the way Gannett sees her.
“He had never thought of her as a woman who wept and clung: there was a lucidity in her intuitions that made them appear to be the result of reasoning.” (Wharton, 411).
Lydia is here the portrait of an independent, clever and rational woman. She seems to be a stronger character than Gannett, her partner, and that can be seen in their relationship as well as how it affects their behaviour towards the marriage. As shown in the following passage, Lydia is quite aware of her situation and points this out to Gannett: “I am ‘leading a life of sin’ – doesn’t that disgust you more than their turning their backs on us now?” (Wharton, 394). She handles the fact to endure people's view on her in order to confirm what she thinks as being right. What further strengthens Lydia’s character is that she is the one who chose to attempt to leave Gannett to show him that they do not have to get married to be together, but that they are free to choose and be different, almost separate individuals. The following passage explains somehow why they cannot be married.
“he and she were two separate beings […] bound together in a noyade of passion that left them resisting yet clinging as they went down.” (Wharton, 412)
In this passage, one sees that the marriage between Lydia and Gannett seems impossible because they are too different. In addition in order to ensure a marriage in the society in which they live, they should respect the fact of having no sex before marriage and to be faithful to the partner...