Restictions and Confinement Essay

Submitted By rolandondubs
Words: 1577
Pages: 7

Roland Burns
English 102
March 16th, 2013
Restrictions and Confinement
Charlotte Bronte once said, “Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags.” Failing to stimulate the mind can have adverse effects, and in Steinbeck and Gilman’s short stories the authors illustrate the consequences of wasting away. Both Characters are repressed by the standards modern society inflicts upon them, which ultimately causes them to seek an escape, for freedom. In both “The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the authors use setting to illustrate the restricted role women have in society, resulting in the female protagonist’s confinement. Oftentimes, as exampled by Steinbeck and Gilman’s stories the lives of women were largely controlled by men. In today’s contemporary 21st century American society it’s easy for people to take for granted the equality that they enjoy today. It’s hard to imagine that one hundred years ago woman had not attained suffrage, and essential rights like education, employment and solidarity were not afforded to them. Ever since civilization began most women were subject to their husband’s decisions, following them where ever they went, despite their own dreams and aspirations. To suffocate their will, deny them creativity and prevent them from controlling their lives was barbaric. Over time, ignoring these essential stimulations will take its toll and cause anyone to feel trapped. To ease their mind, no matter how reckless it may seem, desperate people looking for a way out of the situation, will do almost anything to get the recognition or appreciation they deserve. Starting with Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums” the protagonist Elisa Allen lives on an isolated ranch in the Salinas Valley with her husband, she wants to show him that she can handle more responsibility but settles with planting flowers in her garden instead. Elisa is a strong, intelligent, passionate woman whose interest in the business side of the ranch goes unnoticed by her husband. She gets very confident about her prowess as a gardener when it’s suggested that she use her talent on something more important. “I wish you’d work out in the orchard and raise some apples that big” (Steinbeck 12). The prospect of doing more around the ranch excited her and she was up for the challenge claiming she had “planters’ hands”- a natural ability to put anything in the ground and make it grow. Her excitement quickly fades after it’s clear that his comment was just a playful remark not intended as a suggestion of future responsibility but as a friendly compliment. “Well, it sure works with flowers” (Steinbeck 13) It’s almost condescending for him to suggest that if he has no intention of allowing her the opportunity, it hadn’t occurred to him that she would be well suited for the job because she’s a women and it is his responsibility to provide for her no matter her suitability. Also, because Elisa is trapped in an unfulfilling marriage, she desperately tries to free herself from the banality of everyday life as a rancher’s wife. She’s 35 years old and has no children, it seems like the relationship with her husband is lacking intimacy. She can’t leave him because divorce is not an option, that’s not how these situations were handled. Women were supposed to be soft spoken and subservient to all of her husband’s needs, that and taking care of the home was her role in society. She is startled at first when the tinker arrives on her property and