Comparison and Contrast Essay
“The Yellow Wallpaper” vs. “The Story of an Hour”
“The Yellow Wallpaper”, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and “The Story of an Hour”, by Kate Chopin, are alike in that both of the women in the stories were controlled by their husbands which caused them to feel an intense desire for freedom. Both stories were also written from a feminist point of view. However, the women in the stories had different life changes and different responses to their own freedom as a result of that change.
In both stories the women’s husbands had direct control over their lives. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” the narrator’s husband controlled her both mentally and physically. He does not allow her to have any sort of mental or physical stimulation. She is virtually imprisoned in her bedroom, supposedly to allow her to rest and recover her health. She is forbidden to work and not even supposed to write. She does not even have a say in the location or decor of the room she is forced to spend almost even moment in. Furthermore, visitors are absolutely not allowed. She says, “It is so discouraging not to have any advice and companionship about my workbut he says he would as soon put fireworks in my pillow-case as to let me have those stimulating people about now”(Gilman 635). Mrs. Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” had to deal with the same sort of affliction. Her husband had control over her “body and soul”. She felt that he lived her life for her and did “not believe that anyone had the right to impose a private will on a fellow creature” (Chopin 13).
This control caused both women to long for freedom from their husbands’ oppressive behavior. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” it seems that the narrator wishes to
drive her husband away. She explains, “John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious. I am glad my case is not serious” (Gilman 634)! This quote shows that she is glad to see her husband away so that she may be left alone to do as she pleases without interference from her husband. She is frequently rebelling against her husband’s orders. She writes in her journal and tries to move her bed when there is no one around to see her. However, she always keeps an eye out for someone coming. The intense desire for freedom is even more obvious in “The Story of an Hour.” Mrs. Mallard’s craving for freedom is so strong that when she is given the news of her husband’s death, she relieved that “there would be no one to live for her during those coming years; she would live for herself” (Chopin 13). She yearns to live her own life without someone being there to dictate her every thought and action. She wants to live her own life and make her own decisions without being under the constant scrutiny of her husband.
Also, both “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “The Story of an Hour” were written from the feminist perspective. The husband’s control over their wives, and the wives intense desire for freedom from the men in their lives exhibit that the subject matter in both stories reveals feminist concerns. Through the narrator of “The Yellow Wallpaper” the author is able to express her feminine viewpoint concerning the
oppressive nature of the men in her life. This oppressive nature results in an inferiority complex being developed by the narrator. The narrator is unable to
express her opinion solely because it conflicts with the male point of view. A perfect example of this is presented in the beginning passages of the story, where the narrator’s disagreement with her husband and brother’s ideas for her treatment. She states, “Personally, I disagree with their ideas. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do?” This last sentence “But what is one to do?” exemplifies wonderfully her oppressed female stature in the society of her life (Gilman 633). This oppressive nature is also expressed in “The Story of an Hour.” The author shows how Mrs.