The story of an Hour is a short story representing a negative view of marriage and presenting that a woman is overjoyed since her husband has died. The Yellow Wallpaper is about a woman who has a mental illness but unable to be cured as the lack of belief from her husband. Both literatures are tragedy stories and related to low social status of female protagonists. They share the same themes in a quite similar way that female are lacking in freedom and facing confinement to their marriage. Both author give symbolic setting, mind set and actions in order to indicating how female suffer from these oppressions.
Both stories related to repression of the female protagonists. By giving symbolic meaning to the setting, the writers indicate that how women are oppressed by the marriage institution mentally and physically.
Mrs. Mallard's room and the house of John and his wife, aside from serving as the setting, represent the oppression of female. In "The Story of an Hour", affairs around Mrs. Mallard's desire for independence when she locks herself in her room. Bearing a burden of "the physical exhausting that haunted her body" (Chopin, para.4), she sits on a "comfortable, roomy armchair" (Chopin, para.4). It affords an opportunity for her to take a rest from her oppressive life. Mrs. Mallard has long been feeling lonely and unhappy for several years in her marriage. Accordingly, she wants to take a rest and enjoy a moment of relax. At the same time, the open window represents her hunger to get rid of her marriage. She can see new hope from the "spring life" (Chopin, para.5) and her brighter future reflecting from the "patches of blue sky". However, it is an internal conflict to her since she has to battle with the norms and morality of society. And the window is serving as a block restricting her to break the social institution. Apart from this, she is just looking out the window inside the room symbolizing that women do not have a right or ability to break through the social norms.
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Likewise, the narrator's house setting in "The Yellow wallpaper" can bring her into a confinement caused by her husband's belief. The yellow wallpaper is one of the most obvious symbols of the female protagonist's sanity physically and mentally. The yellow wallpaper is a prison blocking the narrator into a small room. She is fascinated by the yellow wallpaper preventing her from resting and trapped behind the pattern of it. She cannot leave the room even though she feels haunted to the house and keeps complaining to her husband but it is in vain because of lacking in her husband belief to her thought. Besides, all of her works and interests are forbidden by her husband due to her illness and imaginations. This reflects that woman in the wallpaper is a symbol of her own situation. She is forced by her husband to accept his belief and John never take his wife's thoughts seriously as he is always working outside (Gilman, section2, para22-23). As a result, the narrator's sickness become the worst extent and to be madness. Apart from this, the barred windows, bed frame and gate of the stairs all provide a physical confinement to the narrator (Gilman, section1, para.14). All of these not only confine her to the contact of outside world, but only restrict her emotional expression.
In spite of similar symbolic setting, the two short stories bring different expression of confinement of marriage to the female protagonist.
Moreover, both stories deal with morbid state of relationship by giving symbolic meaning to the illnesses, the writers express that female are victimized by the marriage institution and societal expectation.
Mrs. Mallard's heart trouble and John's wife's emotional depression are highlighting the indifference and imprisonment of women's marriage. "Heart" is a traditional symbol of sentiment or emotion such as broken heart as a meaning of sadness in a relationship. In "The Story of an Hour" Mrs. Mallard has physical heart troubles which symbolizes the sentimental heart problems since it relates to her marriage. She does not feel any freedom in her marriage unless her husband has been dead. Such oppression influences her heart which creates a great deal of stress inside of her. There are some important contexts reflect that she does not show sentiment and love to her husband. For instance, once her husband love, her face is described as "the face that had never looked save with love upon her."(Chopin, para. 11) Besides, "And yet she loved himâ”€sometimes. Often she did not" Obviously, she is unwilling to share her sentiments with her husband as she does not care about her emotion to her husband. Emotional words are not used to describe the feeling of Mrs. Mallard to her husband but describing something she is excited about such as her eagerness to a new life and freedom. This reflects that she is far more concern about herself new life once her husband is no present rather than the relationship with her husband.
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Similarly, the mental depression of the woman protagonist in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is important to the understanding of her tragedy caused by her ignorance husband. John and her brother believe that the main character is sick and she is treated as a patient of mental illness. John calls her "little girl" and "little goose" (Gilman, section1, para.56). This represents that the woman protagonist and John look like a patient and a doctor rather than a married couple. In fact, the woman protagonist just had a baby. Therefore her depression is most probably come from this event. However, not only she is trapped in a room, but he also not allows her to see her baby and do whatever work she wants. Finally, her emotional depression becomes the worst extent since she is fixated by the yellow wallpaper and the imprisonment. He treats her as a child, but he does not really listen to her seriously. This symbolizes that woman fall victim to the male-dominant society since her husband's demanding attitude, ignorance and lacking in belief to her wife. Additionally, the state of the woman protagonist's mental depression from slight extent to worst extent is represent to the traditional marriage institution's peril in that period of time as female are treated as too passive once comparing to the male. They seem to have no any right or ability to against the male.
Both similar symbolic meaning to the protagonist's illness represent different types of imprisonment faced by the female protagonist.
Furthermore, the writers give some symbolic meaning to the actions in both stories' female protagonists. They struggle to retain or regain their sanity and freedom in marriage institution and in an attempt to escape from the destiny and confinement in a male-dominant society even though they may fall victim to it.
In "The Story of an Hour" Mrs. Mallard herself serves as a symbolism presenting woman of her period of time that they are not contented to their destiny. Initially, she is sad with "wild abandonment". But instead, she feels dreadful when some knowledge coming to her and finally she changes her thoughts once she realizes that it is her freedom. She cannot stop the feeling of freedom and "she said it over and over under her breath: free, free, free!" (Chopin, para. 11). Besides, she understands that she does not to be sad as the marriage is an unhappy institution to her. Once she looks through the window and see the "patches of blue sky" (Chopin, para.6), her concept changed as she has no one to live for. At that moment she finds a new hope and full of energy to her future life describing that "There will 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, para.12). Woman in this period of time cannot find happiness in their marriage which is not because it is not found but because their freedom in marriage has been confined. In that time period, actually women have a strong eagerness for freedom inside their thoughts. However, they tend to be acting a passive role as they are inability to fight for their right and break through the social norms.
The woman protagonist in "The Yellow Wallpaper" attempts to escape from the imprisonment of a male-dominate society. There are two major actions in this story indicating that the narrator fighting with the confinement. Primarily, for example, she back to her work to write diary and notebook behind her husband's restriction as she are forbidden doing any works by her husband during the "cure of rest". This reflects that the narrator attempt to have a normal life and sense of reality. Apart from this, as for another symbolic action, she tears down the wallpaper to find a "woman" trapped behind the pattern which represents her struggling to regain her sanity since she is always bothered by the wallpaper. As a matter of fact, the wallpaper is also part of her restriction. By tearing it down, she frees herself from this restriction. Thus, female in this time period are eager to release from their confinement. It is the only way out to save them from exploitation of right.
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Despite similar symbolic acting and attempt, the female protagonist in both stories attempt to free themselves from the confinement either passively and actively.
In conclusion, "The Story of an Hour" and "The Yellow Wallpaper" shares the same themes, which are female facing confinement in marriage. In 19th century, part of women deal with these confinements passively since they are inability to break through the societal norms and expectation. They