February 11, 2015
“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin vs. “The Yellow Wallpaper”
Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour” and Charlotte Perkins Stetsons’ “The Yellow Wallpaper” are two short stories of women who are facing an emotional unstableness, both due to their husbands. “The Story of an Hour” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” run side by side because they have the same point of view. Both main characters in these stories are searching for freedom and resentment from their husbands. Although they are very different, these short stories are similar in the sense that they are both told in the time period of the eighteen hundreds. In this era, women did not have a voice at all and men were socially dominant.
The main character in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is undergoing an illness of postpartum depression and her husband John is a doctor who is not considerate of her feelings. John and his ill wife live in a house where she does not feel comfortable. Due to this, she becomes obsessed with the yellow wallpaper on the walls and exceeds to imagine things beyond the wallpaper. John demands for her to rest as much as possible, and choses a dull room for them to live in. Louise, the protagonist in “Story of an Hour”, suffers greatly from heart conditions but soon feels free after the news of her husband dying. Even though both of their marriages may contain some sort of devotedness, they lack more detachment due to the control of their husbands. The author portrays in “The Yellow Wallpaper” that the husband babies his wife by using a metaphor to compare her to a goose. “Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose, and said he would go down to the cellar if I wished, and have it whitewashed into the bargain” (Lynch, 56). This disconnection of love is also shown in “Story of an Hour” when the author uses a different literary element to paint a picture. Imagery is a literary element that is used to give a reader a type of mental image. “Imagery helps the reader to visualize more realistically the authors writings” (Literary-Devices 1). Chopin uses this device by giving the reader a visualization of the way Mr. Mallards’ face shows no emotion of love towards his wife. “The faced that had never looked save with love upon her, fixed and gray and dead” (Chopin, 11). Chopin also uses imagery when Louise surprisingly shoes an emotion of grief towards her dead husband. “She knew that she would weep again when she saw the kind, tender hands folded in death” (Chopin, 11). The protagonist from “The Yellow Wallpaper” does the same by exclaiming “Dear John! He loves me dearly, and hates to have me sick.” (Lynch, 110). The reader can make an assumption that both the protagonist in these short stories are using the emotion of love to shy away from the emotional abuse they experience in their marriage.
Stetsons uses the symbolic theme of male dominance in her short story. The theme of a story is so important because it known as the “spine” of a story or main focus. In this time period, the husband was the chief of the marriage. The husband often used his power and control to separate their wives from having a life and their family. “Women had absolutely no rights during the 1800’s; even if they tried to make a life for themselves, they weren’t allowed, and the law only backed up what men did” (Barnesly, 1). Male dominance was crucial and men made every decision for their spouse. For example, “The Yellow Wallpaper” symbolizes the theme of male dominance when the main character asks her husband to visit her cousin. “But he said I wasn’t able to go, nor stand it after I got there; and I did not make a very good case for myself, for I was crying before I had finished” (Lynch, 111). Throughout the story, the author in “The Yellow Wallpaper” continues to illustrate the theme of male dominance when the protagonist wants to live in another bedroom but her husband “would not hear of