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Critical Analysis Paper
It is evident that the settings of the following three stories use the concept of gender inequality as a subject of main focus. "The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman “Sweat” by Zora Neal Hurston, and “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, all present similar situations in which of the lives of three separate female characters face the unfortunate events as a result of the pre existing dominance of male figures at the time.
In the Story “Sweat” we meet the character of Sykes, a manipulative and abusive husband who victimizes his wife Delia Jones, the main character. We are introduced to her suffering early in the story, when her husband’s character is described. “Two months after the wedding, he had given her the first brutal beating. (Sweat pg.2) At this point in the story we are now aware of the struggles that Delia faces. Life for Delia is comparable to that of the main character of the “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin; Mrs. Mallard and Jennie from “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Although they did not suffer physical abuse from their spouses, as Delia did, these women too suffered the consequences of male dominance.
We see the how all three women are devalued and prohibited from their natural freedom. Delia was devalued to the point of becoming the head financial provider, since her husband refuse to do so; working constantly in order to avoid further beatings from her husband. Jennie loses her right to choose her own medical treatment in regards to her deteriorating state mental state. Her medical treatment is managed and manipulated by her brother and husband who were both physicians at the time. (The Yellow Wallpaper pg. 313) Mrs. Mallard faces reality when being struck by the news of her husband’s death; it is such the excitement that she dies from thinking of the endless possibilities of her newly found freedom.
Not only are women seen as being inferior to men throughout these three stories, but we are able to acknowledge the frustrations that they all lived through being unable to live freely of choice. Delia is forced to live a life with a man who does not demonstrate affection or love. As a woman she urged to feel loved and cared for. Her situation became so tragic that she had given up hope in ever obtaining such joy. As described on (pg. 2) "Anything like flowers had long ago been drowned in the salty stream that had been pressed from her heart. Her tears, her sweat, her blood. “She longed to love and feel loved, but women were not able to choose this at the time, forcing her to live an unfulfilling life next to someone she learned to hate.
Mrs. Mallard’s life was not described in detail as much as the life of Delia or Jennie. But the desolation of the intimate moment we presence after her husband’s life, indicated that she too had been unhappy next to the man she married. “Free! Body and soul free!” (pg.116)
In the story of “The Yellow Wallpaper” we observe the unfolding of Jennie's mental instability, her loneliness and depression only worsen her mental state. We discover a fictional character that Jennie creates in her delusion. The character of a woman is described by the narrator and lives behind the yellow wallpaper of the walls that Jennie is confined to. This fictional female character is a representation of the isolation that Jennie is feeling due to her husband John’s idea that he knows best and is the only one who can cure her sickness. “John does not know how much I suffer.” “He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him.” (pg.314)
All three women strive for a freedom that has been depleted by the dominance of their husbands. Mrs Mallard was shocked at the news of her husband's death. She did not fear this fact, for she had finally found the freedom and the solidarity that she had so longed strived for. "When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath," "Free, free, free!" (pg.116) Jennie too found her freedom, but she found it in a different way, her epiphany came when she finally realized that the woman trapped behind the wallpaper was her. It was at this moment that she too found her freedom, the freedom from a manipulative and controlling husband, as well as the freedom of reaching complete separation from life. "I've got out at last." (pg.319) she proclaimed as the she the woman in the wallpaper disenraveled. Delia too found her freedom, she like Mrs. Mallard found her peace with her husband's death. She did not feel sorrow for his death, as Mrs. Mallard, her husband's death too brought forth a sense of serenity and liberty.
All three stories depict the tragic lives of women who were not able to defend their place as women due to the existing gender inequality of their time. We observe the frustrations of these women in the tragic situations they are faced with. It is evident that women were not seen as an important contribution in society. The isolation that women felt from this repression marked a misinterpretation of love. These three women were disillusioned with love to the point that they saw freedom as their happiness rather than live and love the person they had married. Women are now free to love and feel as they please; the depiction of these three stories only reminds us of the hardship that women suffered throughout such arrogant times.
Chopin, Kate. "The Story of an Hour." Kirszner, Laurie G. Lit. Belmont, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.
Hurstons Neale, Zora. "Sweat." New Mexico Junior College. English 213 WebCT. Class Handout.
Gilman Perkins, Charlotte. "The Yellow Wallpaper." Kirszner, Laurie G. Lit. Belmont, MA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.
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[Last Name] 4struck by the news of her husband’s death; it is such the excitement that she dies from thinking of the endless possibilities of her newly found freedom.
All three women strive for a freedom that has been depleted by the dominance of their husbands. Mrs Mallard was shocked at the news of her husband's death. She did not fear this fact, for she had finally found the freedom and the solidarity that she had so longed strived for. "When she abandoned herself a little whispered word escaped her slightly parted lips. She said it over and over under her breath," "Free, free, free!