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Comparison of "the Yellow Wallpaper" and "the Story of an Hour"

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Comparison of "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "The Story of an Hour"

"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin are both stories of women who have been oppressed by the roles they hold of wives in the nineteenth century. They have both suffered from emotional stress related to their relationships that have also manifested into physical conditions as well. Each of the women searched for freedom from their marriage while they were alone, and there is symbolism in the paths they found to freedom. In the end they both found their freedom; but it cost them everything they had.

Neither Louise Mallard in "The Story of an Hour" and John's wife in "The Yellow Wallpaper" were physically abused in these stories but they both sought freedom from the oppression they experienced in the marriages from their expected roles as housewives in the nineteenth century. Louise "was afflicted with a heart trouble," (Chopin 1) so her sister had to be careful how she told her the news of her husband John's death. In "The Yellow Wallpaper" John's wife struggles with "nervous troubles [that are] dreadfully depressing (Gilman 41)." Both of these women are smart women who are struggling with their feelings of oppression or even depression as a result of their roles as women, being expected to be subversive to their husbands. Their physical conditions are likely the physical manifestation of their emotional suffering from their oppression.

In "The Story of an Hour", the window is symbolizes Louise's freedom in what she expects her life to now offer, free of the roles and expectations of society for her as a housewife. She whispers that she is finally free, "Free! Body and soul free! (Chopin 16)." The window becomes her release from oppression after she has locked herself in her room by herself and stares out the window before deciding that she truly has a new lease on life and will be able to live how she chooses from now on. The room that she locked herself in symbolized her feelings of being trapped in her relationship and the window symbolized her newly found freedom from it and her soul was finally free.

In The Yellow Wallpaper, the wallpaper symbolizes John's wife's oppression in a way when she believes that she is seeing a woman trapped within the wallpaper, trying to find her own way out to freedom. In trying to free the woman that she believes is trapped in the wallpaper, she is also relating to her and trying to free herself from her life as it is controlled by her husband trying to cure her of her condition. She also relates to the woman in the wallpaper as she creeps around when she states "I always lock the door when I creep by daylight. I can't do it at night, for I know John would suspect something

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