The Yellow Wallpaper, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman And The Awakening, By Kate Chopin

717 words - 3 pages

The Yellow Wallpaper and The Awakening were two works written during the Age of Expression. The entire country was going through an era of Reconstruction; politically, socially, culturally and econmically . The Yellow Wallpaper and The Awakening are feminist works aimed at the psychological, social, and cultural injustices during the era. According to Mizruchi, “ Cosmopolitanism aroused dis-ease: depression and disaection were prevalent in a society whose pace and variety seemed relentless. Yet the same circumstances also instilled hope. For it was widely recognized that the burgeoning heterogeneity of a newly global America would be a source of enduring vitality.”(Mizruchi, 2008) The wives portrayed in these works defeated the attitudes of their husbands during this patriarchal culture.
The patriarchal times prescribed a “rest cure” for neurasthenia (minor depression). Today neurasthenia would be called post-partum depression. Rest and quiet was prescribed as an antidote used ardently by the medical establishment in the United States. The medical establishment was dominated by men, like the husband John in The Yellow Wallpaper. The wife in The Yellow Wallpaper defeated her husband John by accepting madness over repression, refusing a life of "unhappy, silent acceptance." John, her husband, forbids her to do anything but marital things. He did not like her to write. Writing symbolized her using her mind. Artistic abilities including writing, was trivial to him. In rebellion, within the yellow wallpapered “cell”, she used her mind to create a Gothic, shadowy world full of her mad fantasies and artistic revolt (including thoughts of burning the house down), and escaping into a suppressed rage. The suppressed rage eventually leads her to a temporary mental breakdown.
The literal opposition is quickly established: her husband (named John, suggesting a male prototype) is a "physician of high standing,'" a figure of dominance in every sense—social, domestic, intellectual, physical. John is a devout empiricist who "scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures" (9). Throughout the story John, along with his like-named sister and housekeeper Jane, is associated with the rigidly hierarchical and imaginatively sterile daylight...

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