The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin and The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins is quite similar, with the character being a captured woman who yearns for justice from her imposing husband, and the motif of the women findings pleasure within herself to flee from her authoritative husband and become autonomous. In both stories, the women were seen to be unequal to their husbands. The two stories were written at a time when women were perceived as fragile and weak and were in need of their husbands to safeguard them. These women were only allowed to perform household chores, while the husbands did the hard labor to fend for their families. The paper will compare and contrast the main characters from the two stories.
Comparison of the Main Characters in the Two Stories
In The Story Of An Hour, Mrs. Mallard’s excursion concerning the development of her realization commences from the time she is informed of her spouse’s demise (Alajlan and Faiza 126). Chopin depicts Mrs. Mallard as a female who is not physically beleaguered but mentally. Notwithstanding Mrs. Mallard’s tender age, she has heart complications; besides that the author explains her facial features as having a fair, calm face with lines that embody her strength and will. Chopin uses the characterization of Mrs. Mallard to emphasize on the significance of women having personal space from their oppressive husbands. When she is alone in her room, Mrs. Mallard stares out of the window and perceives the small elements aloof; the scent of the rain, clippings of the trees, and the cheeping of birds. While meditating, she suddenly starts to feel exhausted as she realizes that she cannot enjoy the freedom that the birds and trees enjoy without being restricted by anyone. It is written, “she felt it, creeping out of the sky, reaching toward her through the sounds, the scents and the color that engulfed the air.” (Chopin 2). This is the time that Mrs. Mallard realizes that she is being overpowered by her husband.
According to Mrs. Mallard’s family, her disease is a weakness to her. When she succumbs from the astonishment that Mr. Mallard is alive, the only conjecture that reaches to the male physician’s awareness is that she succumbed from a huge pleasure that could not be withstood by her heart (Alajlan and Faiza 127). Comparable to Chopin, is Gilman’s Yellow Wallpaper book, which discusses a story of a dejected woman who gradually degenerates to her destructive fate. Her name is Jane. She is controlled by her husband, named John. The latter is a physician. He believes his wife is sick and in dire requirement of a rest therapy, restricting her from continuing with her writing passion, and forgetting that she has postpartum depression. Jane also appears to be deserted, restricted of working and in constant fear of pursuing her passion. However, she exudes confidence by defying her husband’s command and resulting to writing when she is unnoticed.
Jane begins her path of self-actualization by accessing through the room that she was designed to repose in for numerous months. She sees the wallpaper and labels it as the wickedest paper she has ever seen in her lifetime (Alajlan and Faiza 128). The wallpaper is invokes her oblivion, and as time is consumed, Jane ultimately perceives her consideration through the enigmatic symbol inside the paper. Initially, the paper’s pungent smell and dull color repel her. Nevertheless, she begins seeing sequences across the wallpaper that is the moment when she becomes determined to follow the pattern to a justifiable conclusion. Her zeal is constantly read across the journey; at first, she is not cognizant that John is caging her, and as the time passes she becomes more determined about her fate. Just like Mrs. Mallard, Jane realizes that she is imprisoned by her commanding husband, when she stares closely at the wallpaper (Alajlan and Faiza 128). In both stories, the two main characters are oppressed and caged by their husbands. The subjugation makes them not to pursue their passion/destiny, but they reach to a point when the showcase their determination in trying to liberate themselves.
Contrast Between The Main Characters From The Yellow Wallpaper And The Story Of An Hour
After Jane conceives a child, her husband John who is a doctor diagnoses her with postpartum depression. Jane is forced into an isolated house, where her husband issues forth stern instructions that bars her from continuing with her passion of writing. Jane disagrees with the “rest cure” and decides to do the contrary when her husband is not around (Alkan 1232). By seeing the wallpaper, she regards herself to be ugly, sinful, and suicidal due to the uncaring state of isolation. Gilman’s Yellow Wallpaper book, see women as intellectually incompetent to pursue their passion and this results in them being imprisoned by their authoritative husbands.
Although both Jane and Mrs. Mallard suffer from psychological conditions, the former appears to be an imposed diagnosis by her husband. Also, the genesis of their mental conditions is determined differently. For, Mrs. Mallard, her emotions are compounded by the physical absence of her husband. At first, she expresses joy upon hearing the alleged death of her husband (Foote 87). However, deep down in her heart she realizes that a void has been created and it needs to be filled. Her husband’s unplanned resurgence ends the delusion as Mrs. Mallard is filled with momentous joy.
In Gilman’s Yellow Wallpaper book, there is conflict between the John and Jane, as the latter tries to weather the new norm of being isolated and caged. Jane is confined into the bedroom, and she is not allowed to do any mental activity, although the first diagnosis becomes unverified, Jane comes into the reality of becoming made. This is a sharp contrast, to Chopin’s story where Mrs. Mallard suffers from emotional condition due to the absence of her husband who is said to be allegedly dead. In Gilman’s Yellow Wallpaper book, the wallpaper is a sign of liberation for Jane from her husband who seems to be controlling her health and life. However, in Chopin’s book, the art of meditation that allows Mrs. Mallard to see the small things outside; the scent of the rain, the tops of the trees, and the chirping of birds becomes the genesis of her quest for freedom.
The characterization of Mrs. Mallard and Jane has unraveled numerous similarities and differences. Comparably, both characters suffer from a mental condition. They are also imprisoned by their authoritative husbands, and quest for freedom. They all began the journey to freedom after staring at an object or birds. In terms of differences, seeing how ugly the yellow wallpaper is considered as the start to her journey of freedom. Meditating while seeing the chirping birds and trees on an open window makes Mrs. Mallard realize that she needs freedom. In both stories, we have learned that the issue of male dominance and feminine freedom are key motifs that were predominant in the 19th century.
Alajlan, Lama Abdullah, and Faiza Aljohani. “The Awakening of Female Consciousness in Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour (1894) and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper (1892).” (2019). pp. 123-128.
Alkan, Halit. “A Liberal Feminist Approach to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper.” Ulakbilge Sosyal Bilimler Dergisi 9.65 (2021): 1229-1236.
Chopin, Kate. The story of an hour. Joe Books Ltd, 2018.
Foote, Jeremy. “Speed That Kills: The Role of Technology in Kate Chopin’s The Story Of An Hour.” The Explicator 71.2 (2013): 85-89.