The Controlled Woman Comparing Female Freedom and Male Domination in Two Short Stories Essay

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Female Freedom in the 19th Century: Two Short Stories

The short story entitled the “Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman both approach the subject of female sanity and wellness from different angles. Both stories suggest that society and those closest to the woman have really no idea about the inner life of the female, nor what is best for her mental health and overall well being. The incorrect assumptions of those around them are precisely what contribute to the ultimate tragedies and unraveling of mental states present within each story.

Chopin’s famous “Story of an Hour” demonstrates the ill-conceived presumption that so many of the era project on to the heart and mind of a woman. We are told of Mrs. Mallard’s fragility in the opening of the story. As a result of this fragility, “Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband's death” (Chopin). The news, everyone believes, will break her, and possibly kill her, and she plays along with their expectations, giving them the show of emotions that they are expecting. “She wept at once, with sudden, wild abandonment, in her sister's arms. When the storm of grief had spent itself, she went away to her room alone” (Chopin). Everyone around her presumes to know what’s going on with her internally, but they actually have no idea. This is a theme common in both stories: the inner life of the woman is something that is completely different from what is presumed by those around her.

When Mrs. Mallard is alone, we find out that she craves freedom—freedom from her marriage, freedom from the domination of her husband, freedom from all of it.

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She does not mourn the death of her husband, as much as she craves her own liberty, and celebrates her presumed liberty. Her freedom and autonomy are so precious to her that the mere sight of her husband, alive and well is enough to make her heart stop. No doubt many of the people around her had assumed that she was would be scared to live on her own, without the safety, protection and guidance from a husband. However, Mrs. Mallard’s reaction implies that her husband was controlling and domineering and that she didn’t have much freedom within the confines of their relationship. This is supported by the text: “There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature” (Chopin). Hence, one can conclude that for her marriage was like a form of prison cell. Only through the death of her husband, could she get a taste of freedom.



Freedom is a theme inherent….....

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Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. ""The Story of an Hour"." VCU - Central Authentication Service - Login, 1894, archive.vcu.edu/english/engweb/webtexts/hour/.

Gillman, Charlotte P. "The Yellow Wallpaper." National Library of Medicine, The Literature of Prescription, www.nlm.nih.gov/theliteratureofprescription/exhibitionAssets/digitalDocs/The-Yellow-Wall-Paper.pdf. Accessed 12 Sept. 2018.

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https://www.aceyourpaper.com/essays/controlled-woman-comparing-female-freedom-male-domination-in-short-stories-essay