Male chauvinism and patriarchy have been s that have undermined the right and freedom of women for centuries. In as much as the rights and freedom of women are advocated for and the institution of patriarchy eliminated, it is good to know that the battle is far from over as there are media reports of modern world women oppression. The implication of patriarchy and undermining of women rights is well demonstrated in the short stories “the hour by Kate Chopin” and “the Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.” The basic phenomenon of understanding the need for observation of the rights of women is to answer the question of the capabilities of women. Understanding what women are capable of would indicate that a woman can achieve as a man can do; thus the mentality of women being mentally inferior would be eliminated.
The Hour and the Yellow Wallpaper
The stories the hour and the yellow wallpaper were both published in the early nineteenth century and help in depicting the position of women in the society. In the era when these stories are set, women are treated as second citizens in the society and any action taken by women for self-development had to be with the approval of a man. In both the stories, women are the main characters with both suffering dissociation from the society, a move orchestrated by their husbands.
In the story “the hour,” Louise Mallard, who has a heart condition gets a report from a friend of the family that the husband is dead from an accident. The family friend (Richard) relies on the sister of Louise (Josephine) to disclose the news of the death as they hope Louise would break down upon hearing the news (Chopin, P. 114). Nevertheless, Louise reacts in a jovial manner and chants freedom to herself several times, thus feels as if she has gained a new life. Suddenly the husband walks in and a shocked Louise dies from a heart attack, with the doctor declaring that she died of “joy.” The character in “the yellow wallpaper” attempts to heal from a postpartum depression. Her husband who is a physician constricts her in a single room (Charlotte, P. 72). The husband does not allow her to perform any duty that makes her dissociate from the world. The restrictions and constriction ultimately make the character go insane.
In both the stories, the women who are the characters of the stories feel intense desire for freedom by their husbands. On the other hand, the husbands feel their actions are for the benefit of the women who are thought to be inferior in decision-making and execution of mentally demanding tasks. Both women have a feeling that their husbands have direct control over their lives including body and soul. As evident through the narration of the “the hour” Louise feels no one should live his or her life for the other, and everyone should be allowed to make decisions on how to live. Both stories thus show the nature with which women are oppressed and undermined in the society. Both written from a feminist perspective, the fate of the characters in both stories appear to be the same as they all collapse at the weight of oppression.
However, the stories contrast in the nature with which the characters are treated and controlled by their husbands. In the story the hour, Louise feels her husband controls both her physical and spiritual freedom while in the story the yellow wallpaper, the husband of the character controls her physical and mental freedom.
Chopin, Kate. The Story of an Hour: Short Story. Toronto, Ontario: Harper Perennial Classics, 2014.
Gilman, Charlotte P, and Dale M. Bauer. The Yellow Wallpaper. Boston: Bedford Books, 2008.