Characterization Of Women In The Yellow Wallpaper And Desiree's Baby

1323 words - 5 pages

Characterization of Women in The Yellow Wallpaper and Desiree's Baby  

There was a time (not so long ago) when a man's superiority and authority wasn't a question, but an accepted truth. In the two short stories, "Desiree's Baby", and "The Yellow Wallpaper", women are portrayed as weak creatures of vanity with shallow or absent personalities, who are dependent on men for their livelihood, and even their sanity. Without men, these women were absolutely helpless and useless. Their very existence hinged on absolute and unquestioning submission…alone, a woman is nothing.

The setting of both stories reinforces the notion of women's dependence on men. The late 1800's were a turbulent time for women's roles. The turn of the century brought about revolution, fueled by the energy and freedom of a new horizon…but it was still just around the bend. In this era, during which both short stories were published, members of the weaker sex were blatantly disregarded as individuals, who had minds that could think, and reason, and form valid opinions.

Also, in both tales, the characters are removed from society. In "Desiree's Baby", the plantation is bordered by a field and a bayou, isolating its inhabitants from the world. The narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper" tells us, "Out of one window I can see a garden…out of another I get a lovely view of the bay and a little private wharf" (161). They are out in the country, where the modern city can't touch them, or begin to mold their sexist ways and old fashioned ideals into contemporary mindsets. This seclusion also ensures that no outside forces threaten the men's absolute and total control of their weak, defenseless charges.

In addition to their surroundings, the homes themselves in the stories are ominous and forbidding, reflective of the oppressive male characters. Desiree's home "was a sad looking place, for which many years had not known the gentle presence of a mistress…The roof came down steep and black like a cowl…big solemn oaks grew close to it, and their thick-leafed, far-reaching branches shadowed it like a pall" (141). John's wife describes their summer retreat as a "Colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house…The windows are barred" (158-161). Both dwellings are clearly symbolic of the dark, stifling circumstances surrounding a woman of the times. In fact, the narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper" eventually perceives the very room she is in as a prison. When speaking of the paper she says, "By moonlight it becomes bars" (164) it is clear that she feels trapped.

Characterization also plays a major role in conveying the sexist and generally inferior manner in which women were treated and perceived. The men are condescending and unemotional. At first, Aubingy is described as passionately loving his Desiree…"That was how the Aubingy's fell in love, as if struck by a pistol shot" (141). However, upon finding that his baby is not the Aryan bundle of joy he'd...

Find Another Essay On Characterization of Women in The Yellow Wallpaper and Desiree's Baby

Women in "Hills like White Elephants" and "The Yellow Wallpaper"

2227 words - 9 pages pattern in the paper. The story reaches its climax when her husband must force his way into the bedroom, only to find that his wife has pulled the paper off the wall and is crawling around the perimeter of the room."Hills Like White Elephants" and "The Yellow Wallpaper" are both about couples dealing with a delicate situation in a time when the power of men over women is obvious. The characters in both stories show that the man has more control and

Oppression of Women in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper

788 words - 3 pages For a long time, women were oppressed and controlled by men. Particularly in early 19th century, these thoughts and stereotypes bound women stronger than ever. "The Yellow Wallpaper" written by Charlotte Perkins, shows readers how men and women were treated differently during early 19th century by her characterization of the narrator and her husband. The “Yellow Wallpaper” is about one man who controls his wife and forces her to hide herself and

The Oppression of Women and The Yellow Wallpaper

1524 words - 6 pages The Oppression of Women and The Yellow Wallpaper        The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a fictionalized autobiographical account that illustrates the emotional and intellectual deterioration of the female narrator who is also a wife and mother. The woman, who seemingly is suffering from post-partum depression, searches for some sort of peace in her male dominated world. She is given a “rest cure” from her husband

Imprisonment of Women Exposed in The Yellow Wallpaper

1442 words - 6 pages Imprisonment of Women Exposed in The Yellow Wallpaper When asked the question of why she chose to write 'The Yellow Wallpaper', Charlotte Perkins Gilman claimed that experiences in her own life dealing with a nervous condition, then termed 'melancholia', had prompted her to write the short story as a means to try and save other people from a similar fate. Although she may have suffered from a similar condition to the narrator of her

Oppression of Women Depicted in The Yellow Wallpaper

1539 words - 6 pages In "The Yellow Wallpaper," Gilman shows that the American principle of liberty did not apply to all Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Specifically it shows that this principle was not given to women. In "The Yellow Wallpaper," Gilman shows that American society at the time was oppressive toward women and that it was dangerous for women to fight back. She establishes a female narrator that is oppressed

Descriptions of Oppressed Women in Charlotte Gillman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper

1079 words - 5 pages Critical Paper #1 In Charlotte Gillman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” the narrator describes several attitudes in which men thought about women and the overall oppression of women in the early 20th century. The perception of men and women encouraged society to place limitations on women and allow men to dominate. Women were seen as caretakers, homebodies and fragile, unable to care for one’s self. This is symbolic to the “Cult of Domesticity”, a term

Women Being Controlled in The Yellow Wallpaper

1173 words - 5 pages The Yellow Wallpaper Today, women have more freedoms than we did in the early nineteenth century. We have the right to vote, seek positions that are normally meant for men, and most of all, the right to use our minds. However, for women in the late 1800’s, they were brought up to be submissive housewives who were not allowed to express their own interests. In the story, “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte

Oppression of Women in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper

1324 words - 5 pages Edna Pontellier of Kate Chopin’s work The Awakening as well as the nameless female narrator of Charlotte Perkin Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper both experienced similar forms of gendered oppression, who have become frustrated with their conventional womanly roles. In having like experiences, these literary works prove effective in relaying the issue of gender inequalities among men and women in the late 1800s to early 1900s. Although both Chopin

Freedom for Women in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman and The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin

1278 words - 5 pages Freedom for Women in The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gillman and The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin 'The Yellow Wallpaper' by Charlotte Perkins Gillman and 'The Story of an Hour' by Kate Chopin are two feminist works in which liberation is the overlying theme. Both of the main characters achieve freedom from their husbands' oppression in these short stories; however, freedom is only achieved through insanity in 'The Yellow

Oppression of Women in Chopin's Story of an Hour and Gilman's Yellow Wallpaper

1261 words - 5 pages Oppression of Women in Chopin's Story of an Hour and Gilman's Yellow Wallpaper   "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin and "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman share the same view of the subordinate position of women in the late 1800's. Both stories demonstrate the devastating effects on the mind and body that result from an intelligent person living with and accepting the imposed will of another. This essay will attempt to

The Oppression of Women Exposed in The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

1287 words - 5 pages Prior to the early twentieth century men dictated women’s role in society. Charlotte Gilman uses her novella “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892) as a symbolic reflection of oppression of women in a paternalistic society. Her novella challenges the idea of women being depicted as weak and fragile. The narrator’s name is unknown through out the story, yet at the beginning the reader is given her husbands’ name (John), and the narrator’s identity through

Similar Essays

Women And Fiction In The Yellow Wallpaper

1344 words - 5 pages Women and Fiction in The Yellow Wallpaper      Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" is a deceptively simple story.  It is easy to follow the thirteen pages of narrative and conclude the protagonist as insane.  This is a fair judgement, after all no healthy minded individual becomes so caught up with "hideous" and "infuriating" wallpaper to lose sleep over it, much less lock herself in a room to tear the wallpaper down.  To be

Setting, Symbolism And Oppression Of Women In The Yellow Wallpaper

789 words - 3 pages The Yellow Wallpaper: Setting, Symbolism and Oppression of Women Have you ever been locked in a dark closet? You grope about trying to feel the doorknob, straining to see a thin beam of light coming from underneath the door. As the darkness consumes you, you feel as if you will suffocate. There is a sensation of helplessness and hopelessness. Loneliness, caused by oppression, is like the same darkness that overtakes its victim. Charlotte

Women And Wallpaper: The Role Of Women In "The Yellow Wallpaper" By Charlotte Perkin Gilman

1746 words - 7 pages doesn't understand the cause of her illness. As a result, her condition worsens and her mind continues to deteriorate.The climactic point in the story is when the protagonist becomes completely and only obsessed with the yellow wallpaper. She and the woman in the wallpaper become one and the same person. Her personality merges with the woman in the wallpaper. She also uses "many great women" as a metaphor for how all women within society are

The Subjugation Of Women In The Yellow Wallpaper

2572 words - 10 pages The Subjugation of Women in The Yellow Wall Paper                 In the nineteenth century, women in literature were often portrayed as submissive to men. Literature of the period often characterized women as oppressed by society, as well as by the male influences in their lives. The Yellow Wallpaper presents the tragic story of a woman's descent into depression and madness. Gilman once wrote "Women's subordination will only end when