Desiree Valmonde Aubigny is the adopted daughter of MadameValmonde and Monsieur. Desiree has been brought up by the Valmonde family since she was a toddler found at the family's plantation gate. Despite not knowing her origin, she has been brought with much love fromValmonde as a sweet kind girl. At the age of eighteen, she is noticed by Armand who marries her. Armand lives in the neighbor with the Valmondes. In Louisiana, he has one of the greatest and oldest names having inherited his fathers plantation. Armand is a proud man where his pride is greater than his wifes love and child. He considers Desiree, their child and the slaves as mere possessions. Getting into marriage, Armand seems to have been influenced by Desiree as he is kind and his heart has softened. He is polite and kind to the slaves. Desirees love for Armand is so great that she can sacrifice anything for him, yet Armand does not feel the same way. After delivering a male child, she thinks that Armand is proud of the boy. Armand sees he boy only as an asset that will bear his name for continuity of the family legacy and name. When he realizes that the child is not white but of mixed ancestry, he sends Desiree and the child out of the plantation with much cruelty. This is because he does not value them. He blames Desiree for not being white, and the irony comes in when he sees a letter written to his father from his mother saying that he is from the cursed race- Black.
Relationship between women and their husbands
The relationship between Armand and Desiree is one on the rough road. Armand treats Desiree more of a possession than a wife. He does not love her but pretends to be in love with her. He only marries her due to physical and sexual attraction but not out of love. Their marriage is not built out of trust or love. Armand should have told Desiree of the letter he saw his mother and father and maybe their relationship would have been better. In my opinion, marriage is more than love. It is a communion of life but there must be love. Armand decision to marry Desiree is not out of love. Their relationship does not last as Armand is not committed to Desiree for life. Love in marriage incorporates human life in which you stay together in the life of joy and sorrow, sickness and health, facing social and individual questions. Marriage involves coping with internal and external problems, dealing with the small and big problem and maintain communication with each other. In Armand and Desirees relationship none of this was there. Their marriage was built on a lie. Communication and listening to each other were not part of it. If I were asked, an issue on the baby color was a minor problem that they could have solved as a family. Furthermore, biologically the child belonged to both of them. Therefore there was no love from Armand, communication was lacking as well as trust.
Humility is another important aspect to consider in a relationship so as to maintain virtue between partners. Humility makes it possible to commit tone another. Pride brings destruction in a relationship. Armand is portrayed as proud as he has a big farm plantation with the finest name in Louisiana from a wealthy family. He only values his reputation in the city. Their relationship could have lasted if only Armand were humble. Accepting to be of mixed ancestry could have done him no harm but instead, term him as a humble man and honorable. Even after realizing that Desiree is not to be blamed, he still tells her she is not white. Humility could have saved their marriage. When there is humility in a relationship we are sure that our partners will try their best not to make us angry. Choosing to be angry is ones choice, therefore a partner can choose to get angry or not. As for Armand, he let anger get a better part of him, influenced by pride and cast away his wife. If Armand got his individual ego, the marriage could have worked (R. Richardson 54)
In Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator a young middle-class woman, newly married and a mother of one talks of how she underwent care of depression. Her husband John thinks that he is protecting her by restricting her behavior as part of treatment. John loves his wife and he is doing this out of love not knowing or understanding the negative effects of the treatment. In this story, there is insubordination of women in marriage. She is not allowed to hold a pen, write or work. There is no freedom in the marriage that she is trapped in. John is a physician and thinks that she has a nervous breakdown. In my opinion, John loves his wife and in doing all these things, it is for the betterment of the wife. He does not realize that this is not the kind of love his wife would love to experience. The narrator has no freedom to speak up but does what the husband thinks is right for her. Compared to the contemporary society, women did not have any say but as at now, they have been empowered. There is a high rate of women rising in power. Therefore relationship without respect is doomed. Respect for your partners opinions is very important to make the marriage work (C.Gilman 23)
How are they treated more like children than wives?
In Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator is suffering from temporary nervous depression that leads to a hysterical tendency common to women. Her husband is a physician who wants her to get well. In the process of her treatment she is treated as a child rather than a wife. She is forbidden from working. She is encouraged to plenty of air and exercise, as well as eats healthy. The room she is in has barred windows to prevent children entering through them. She is not treated as an adult should be treated. In Desirees baby, Desiree is treated more as a possession than a wife. Armand does not value her as a wife. Both of these characters are not treated as wives.
In my opinion, respect in a relationship maybe more essential than love. If you love yet do not respect my opinions or decisions, I do not see love. When I express an idea and people take it seriously, I valued because they respect what I have to say. If John and Armand understood the value of respect, they would have showed it to their partners making their marriages better or saving them.
How is this reinforced in these texts?
The narrator of Yellow Wallpaper becomes hysterical after staying in the house for long. For fear of being reproached as overworking herself, he hides her journals from the housekeeper, Jennie and her husband. The narrator has been treated as a child until her thinking turns out to be that of a child. Who overworks herself by writing a journal? She begins to have an obsession with the pattern and color on the wall. The yellow wall makes her think of the bad yellow things that she has experienced. I wonder which things are yellow. Actions cannot be termed in colors as they are not tangible objects. Her thinking becomes more of a child than of a grown up. She only thinks of the yellow smell. I think its very hard to smell a color. Her illness was on the verge of causing her a nervous breakdown. This is reinforced when she sees a woman creeping behind the pattern realizing its her. She only feels safe in the room locking herself up for no one to enter, not even her husband. In Desirees baby, Madame Valmonde treats her as still a child yet she is now married. Her mother refers to her as an idol of Valmonde declaring how much she values her. When Desiree ask for advice from Madame Valmonde due to the coldness from Armand, her mother tells her to come back home where she is loved and adored. In my opinion, her mother telling he to go back home still makes her a child. As a responsible mother, Madame Valmonde would have advised her otherwise but not going back home.
Consider the way Desiree is found by Madame Valmonde and Armand, as well as the significance of the main setting for The Yellow Wallpaper.
Desiree is found asleep by Monsieur at the gateway of Valmonde. Although there were beliefs that Texans abandoned her, Madame Valmonde believes that she is a beautiful and gentle sent by God as she did not have her children. Eighteen years later, Armand Aubigny sees her standing next to the stone pillar of the gateway. He immediately falls in love with her. Armand had known her way before after arriving from Paris after his mothers death. Desiree is found by both Madame Valmonde and Armand at the spot where they fall in love with her. Although Armand changes his character and attitude towards Desiree, Madame Valmonde loves Desiree even more than before.
The Yellow Wallpaper central setting is used to explore the role of women, how they are depicted to be mentally and oppressed. The narrator has no life outside the home as she is not allowed out of the house. Working is forbidden, meaning that she cannot do something constructive and be proud of. The narrator tries to portray professional and medical oppression against women. She is against male doctors and husbands terming them as mentally weak. The narrator wants to work instead of rest; she wants to be a mother instead of being separated from her child. She also wants to be part and parcel of the society rather than being isolated. In conclusion, the narrator wants to give a position in the society and be recognized- women empowerment (S. Singh 43)
Gilman, Charlotte P. The Yellow Wallpaper. Champaign, Ill: Project Gutenberg, 1990. Internet resource.
Horn, I.H. "African Traditional Religion, Western Religious Shifts and Contemporary Education." Journal for Christian Scholarship = Tydskrif Vir Christelike Wetenskap. 39 (2003). Print.
Richardson, Ronald W. Couples in Conflict: A Family Systems Approach to Marriage Counseling. Lanham: Fortress Press, 2010. Internet resource.
Singh, Shashi K. Women Empowerment. , 2013. Print.
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