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Comparison of three nineteenth century short stories.

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Introduction

Comparison of three nineteenth century short stories In the nineteenth century attitudes were very different to how they are today, as reflected in the books and short stories written in this period. The three short stories I shall be focusing on are: * 'The Yellow Wallpaper'---Charlotte Perkins Gilman * 'Tony Kytes-The Arch Deceiver--- Thomas Hardy * 'The Stolen Bacillus'---H. G. Wells I have selected these three short stories, as they appear to have similarities in some aspects and differences in others; they also reveal much about how life was in the nineteenth century. 'The Yellow Wallpaper' is about a woman who moves out to the countryside to undergo a rest cure treatment for postnatal depression. It is the story of how she is treated by her husband and those around her. Mental illness in the nineteenth century was misunderstood. It was treated in the opposite way to how it is treated now. 'The Yellow Wallpaper' is narrated by the main character entirely in diary form, so it gives a very personal view of the story and the emotions involved. It starts by the narrator going straight into the story with no introduction or background knowledge given. The narrator and her husband are renting a country house to live in for the summer. It is shown in the first paragraph that the narrator thinks there is something strange about the setting by the way in which she describes it as "A colonial mansion, a hereditary estate, I would say a haunted house...- but that would be asking too much of fate!" She is obviously suspicious of the house, and even seems slightly paranoid. Her relationship with her husband John becomes clear very soon into the story. He is the dominating partner and takes it upon himself to look after her, believing that she is not able to look after herself and must be put in the responsibility of his, more capable hand 'He assures friends and family there is really nothing the matte with me'. ...read more.

Middle

He makes their lives seem very dull and as if they only have the aim of getting married and having a family. Thomas Hardy also tells us that in this time in history women are supported by men all through their lives. Their fathers are in control of them until they find a husband, who will be able to control them. This could be seen as a different attitude compared to today when many children are from single parent families who have no male influence in their lives. A similarity between Tony Kytes-The Arch Deceiver and 'The Yellow Wallpaper' is the way women are seen. Thomas Hardy treats women as very much second-class. He often makes them seem weak and stupid. Examples of this in 'Tony Kytes- The Arch Deceiver' are when Unity, Milly and Hannah cannot control the horses; 'She can't hold that horse in, you shouldn't have left the reins in her hands'. This could be seen as humorous in the nineteenth century as it is like a pantomime. Charlotte Perkins Gilman does not make women seem as they are weak, but still shows them to be second-class and as if their views do not matter. An example of this is when nobody wants to listen to the narrator when she puts forward ideas on how to treat her postnatal depression. 'Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change would do me good' When Tony Kytes sees his dad calling him he goes straight over to him. He confesses the situation he had got himself in to with Unity, Milly and Hannah in his wagon. In the nineteenth century the father's role was very important and they were like the law. Whenever your father told you to do something you would have to do it. Society at the time would be angry with Thomas Hardy for making Tony Kytes oppose his father, when he is advised to marry the only girl who did not invite herself to ride in Tony's wagon. ...read more.

Conclusion

The language in all three short stories could be seen as being old fashioned. Words are in the style of how they were in the nineteenth century. Examples of this in the three short stories are in ''The Yellow Wallpaper'' they call a doctor a physician. In 'Tony Kytes-The Arch Deceiver' there are many old nineteenth century words used including 'o the petticoats went off, and the breaches went on'. In 'The Stolen Bacillus' there are also several nineteenth century words used including ethnology. The most successful short story for telling me about the nineteenth century was 'Tony Kytes-The Arch Deceiver' Thomas Hardy had written about lots of different occurrences that took place in the nineteenth century and has had the courage to write about the true happenings. This short story would have also caused the most outrage in the nineteenth century as it tells the truth about such issues as women flirting with men and sons and daughters disobeying their fathers. Although people in the nineteenth century knew about these happenings they did not want to have to be reminded about them and read about them. The most successful short story to people in the nineteenth century was 'The Stolen Bacillus'. I think this would have sold the most copies in shops as it was about cholera, which many people would have been interested in. It was also not as controversial as the other two short stories as it didn't tackle issues that were as delicate. 'The Yellow Wallpaper' would have been seen as a very controversial short story in the nineteenth century. It was mainly centred on postnatal depression and mental illness. This topic was not widely talked about at this period in time as it was seen to be an embarrassment if you knew someone with a mental illness. Although I have referred to the three short stories as all being written in the nineteenth century, they were actually written in the 1890s. I think a better genre for the three short stories would be early twentieth century, as they would fit in that category more than the nineteenth century. ...read more.

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