Feminism is an ideology aimed at establishing, defining and defending equal economic, political and social rights for women. The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour both deal with female isolationism. Both females from the stories desire the freedom to explore the world on their own. While one wished to break free from the shackles of marriage, the other sought for freedom from the confines of a man’s world. Two women from different stories share the same contrasts and similarities.
The two female protagonists had similar purposes; the narrator’s purpose was to save people from becoming crazy and Louis’ purpose was to show how women struggle in the confinements of marriage. Though they have similar purposes, Chopin’s story is told in third person and shows more of how women struggle through marriage. She also showed women that there is more to life if unmarried. The female protagonist of Chopin’s story felt trapped by her husband and only felt free when he was gone because she was able to detect the loophole in the restrictions women faced in marriage.
The irony of this story is that she died due to loss of joy rather than dying of joy when her newfound life was swiftly taken away the moment her “dead” husband walked through the door. While Gilman’s is told as a diary entry in first person, she shows more of her own personal struggle and what women had to go through if they were thought to be sick. The protagonist in Gilman’s story shows that the narrator’s husband would not let her live a normal life due to her condition. The narrator had to lose herself to understand herself.
She was finally able to break free of her marriage, her society and her mind but she had to sacrifice a lot. Louise Mallard is an intelligent, independent woman who understands the “right” way for women to behave, however her thoughts and feelings alone are anything but correct. When she found out from her sister that Brently, her husband, had died due to an accident, she cried dramatically rather than feeling numb. Louise’s reaction to her husband’s death shows that she is an emotional and demonstrative woman.
She did not mourn for his death for long as she soon felt enlightened of her newfound independence. Louise suffers from a heart problem, which could mean that she felt her marriage oppressed her. During the hour she thought Brently was dead, her heart beat strongly as she felt her new independence physically. She spreads her arms out, symbolically welcoming her new life. “Body and soul free! ” she says repeatedly to herself, a statement in which it shows how her newfound independence really is for her.
However, when Brently walks in, her heart trouble reappears and this trouble is so acute that it kills her. The irony is that she did not die of joy but of loss of joy. When her new life was swiftly taken away, the shock and disappointment killed her. With the narrator, she loses touch with the outer world but is able to come to a greater understanding of the inner reality of her life. The narrator is an imaginative, highly expressive woman who is suffering from nervous depression and of her marriage. As part of her cure, her husband forbids her to exercise her imagination in anyway.
In attempt to ignore her growing frustration, she focuses her imagination on neutral objects such as the house and the wallpaper. She becomes fixated on the wallpaper due to her negative feelings. As the narrator becomes more fascinated with the wallpaper, she becomes progressively more dissociated from her daily life. This dissociation began when she decided to keep a diary secretly as “a relief to her mind”. Her true thoughts were kept in that diary and she began to slowly slip into a fantasy world in which the nature of her situation is made clear in symbolic terms.
When the narrator finally identifies herself with “the woman trapped in the wallpaper”, she realizes that she herself is the one in need of rescue. In order for her to understand herself, she must lose herself; she sacrificed a lot and now she is free from the constraints of her marriage, her society and her own efforts to repress her mind. The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour both deal with female isolationism. Both female protagonists sought for the freedom from marriage and they were able to achieve it. However, one had to sacrifice a lot while the other ended up dying due to loss of joy.