Oppression of Women in The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour - Essay Sample

Published: 2023-11-15
Oppression of Women in The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour - Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Literature The Yellow Wallpaper Books The Story of An Hour
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1249 words
11 min read


Patriarchy and male chauvinism have undermined the freedom and rights of women in society for centuries. In many cultures across the world, men use the power given to them by their patriarchal social institutions to oppress women. “The Yellow Wallpaper," by Charlotte Perkin Gilman, and “The Story of an Hour," by Kate Chapin, have similar imagery, themes, and plot with little difference in describing women's position in society. The major themes in the two pieces of literature are the ideals of feminism. Besides, the plots are also very similar, with women in coming conflict with their husbands, and a tragic ending. The stories also focus on women's daily problems during the periods that the authors wrote the stories. Jane, from “The Yellow Wallpaper," and Mrs. Mallard, for “The Story of an Hour," are women who attempt to control their destinies, but their husbands act as a blockade preventing from doing so. The unequal gender relationships and position in the two stories lead to the oppression of women by men who undermine women’s’ freedom and rights.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

"The Story of an Hour."

“The Story of an Hour” is about Louise Mallard, a woman suffering from a heart condition and is displeased by her marriage. However, she experienced happiness and joy when she learned about the death of her husband (Chopin 114). In the story, Mrs. Mallard, the protagonist, is suffering from a heart condition. Because of her health condition, she is carefully informed about the death of her husband. Although the nature of Mrs. Mallard's marriage is not mentioned in the story, her reaction to the news about the death of her husband indicates that it was not a happy relationship. In an hour, after getting the news about the death of her husband, Mrs. Mallard, a relatively weak woman, becomes a stronger person. Louise's husband's death ushered in a moment of healing to her hearth condition (Chopin 114). Upon receiving the sad news, Mrs. Mallard contemplates the newly found independence and is delighted with the new freedom (Chopin 116). This unexpected reaction is a reflection of the feelings of women towards their marriage. Through the story, the author showed how marriage in a patriarchal society meant that men have absolute control over women because they are not permitted to express their thoughts and identities. The death of Louise's husband, therefore, freed her from the restraints of marriage.

The prohibited joy of independence associated with marriage will not hold her back anymore. For just an hour, Louise praised her freedom that is not restricted anymore by her husband. Looking out the window, she realized that her identity because marriage had robbed her. Her marriage had imposed limitations that made her a wife and nothing more (Chopin 114). In the course of one hour, she believed that she no longer has a man to impose his private will on her. Her thoughts demonstrate how patriarchal ideology robbed women of their freedoms and rights in the late 19th century.

“The Yellow Wallpaper”

“The Yellow Wallpaper” is a story about a woman suffering from nervous disorder because of her marriage. John, a physician and Jane's husband, suggested that her wife get "rest cure" as a treatment for a nervous disorder. As a result, Jane was isolated from social life, such as her friends and family, including her young baby (Charlotte 72). In the story, Jane is self-reliant in expressing her thoughts to her husband, who would put down her thoughts, illness, and emotion. However, John does not understand what his wife is going through, thus making it difficult for her to recover. Jane complains that her husband belittles her concerns, thoughts, and illness. She draws a contrast between her sensitive, imaginative ways of thinking and her husband's rationalist and practical ways. Her husband demands that Jane not participate in anything active for her medication, thus forbidding her from writing and working. However, Jane feels that interesting work, freedom, and activity would help her recover quickly, thus prompting her to start writing the secret journal to relieve her mind (Charlotte 77). Jane starts her journal by describing how she was taken to an ancestral house borrowed to get treatment recommended by her husband. Her description is significantly positive; however, disturbing descriptions such as bars on the windows and rings on the bedroom walls, keep emerging. In the story, John assumes that his maturity and superior wisdom lead him to dominate, patronize, and misjudge his wife in an attempt to help her. He imposes restrictions that reduce her wife from acting like a cross, petulant child unable to stand up by without seeming disloyal or unreasonable to her husband. She has no voice in freedom to make choices and speak even on the smallest details of her life, forcing her to retreat to obsessive fantasy to retain control and execute the power of her mind.

The use of complex symbols such as the wallpaper, the window, and the house also depicts the oppressed condition experienced by Jane. Traditionally, the symbol of the house represents a secure environment where women express themselves and experience transformation. In the story, however, the house does not belong to her, and she is disgusted in staying in it. She argued that the house is haunted and that there is something queer about it (Charlotte 70). The house in the story symbolizes a marriage that prevents her from enjoying freedom. As a result, she is scared of looking outside through the window because it reminds her of what she is supposed to be but is prevented by marriage through her husband. As a result, similar to “The Story of an Hour," Jane’s experience represents how men in society prevent women from enjoying their rights and freedom.

Similarities in the Two Stories

In the two stories, the theme of women's oppression as a result of male chauvinism is evident. In “The Story of an Hour," Chapin showed how marriage prevents women from experiencing joy and happiness. Mrs. Mallard quickly recovers upon receiving the news that her husband is dead. She interprets the death of her husband as the beginning of freedom from oppression in her marriage. Louise was, however, shocked to death after seeing her husband alive (Charlotte 80). Mrs. Mallard's death occurred because she could not experience the freedom that she imagined. In “The Yellow Wallpaper," Gilman also showed the negative impact of marriage on women on mental health due to lack of happiness. In the story, Jane becomes insane because her husband prevents her from interacting with other members of society. She does not have the freedom to express herself and to do things her way. Unable to bear the solitude and the lack of freedom, Jane retreats to the obsessive fantasy that leads to insanity.

From the analysis of the “The Yellow Wallpaper," by Charlotte Perkin Gilman, and “The Story of an Hour," by Kate Chapin, it is evident that the two protagonists are experiencing similar oppression women. The theme of male chauvinism, feminism, gender inequality, and oppression of women is evident in the two stories. The protagonist in both stories experiences dominance that denies them their freedom. The tragic end of the two women is because they have no other cause of action other than being informed by oppressive patriarchal norms that they cannot bear.

Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. The story of an hour. Jimcin Recordings, 1981.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The yellow wallpaper. Project Gutenberg, 1999.

Cite this page

Oppression of Women in The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour - Essay Sample. (2023, Nov 15). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/oppression-of-women-in-the-yellow-wallpaper-and-the-story-of-an-hour

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism