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Woman writers in the late nineteenth century aim to highlight how society oppresses females and the effect this oppression has on females. Discuss with reference to your reading of the " Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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Pre 1900 prose literature coursework Woman writers in the late nineteenth century aim to highlight how society oppresses females and the effect this oppression has on females. Discuss with reference to your reading of the " Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and/or "The Awakening" by Kate Chopin. The suffragette movement at the beginning of the of the 20^th century is acclaimed for the freedom and equality of opportunity that it brought to women. The right of women to vote and the thrust of their activities and campaign was in reality a revolution against the place of women in society. It was a determined fight to give women control over their lives at a personal public and financial level. No longer would women accept that they were second class citizens in a patriarchal society dependent on men. To the average woman today the constants of life prior to this revelation are difficult to comprehend but interesting insights into the restrictive lives of women emerge in the study of pre 20^th century literature. It is notable that women writing at this time often did so secretly and felt obliged to use a male nom-de-plume to gain publication, Charlotte Bronte being a famous example. ...read more.


Charlotte Perkins Gilman, after giving birth to her child sunk into post- natal depression, she was assigned to days upon days of rest and to never write, touch a brush and to keep her life as domestic as possible. We can see her feelings coming out about that time in solitude in her short story. She was very much in the thick of nineteenth century discrimination which strongly shows in her writing. This nursery plays on the protagonists mind as we see straight from the beginning "The wallpaper, as I said before is torn off in spots". She describes the nursery in such detail that we have to wonder why. At first she detests the room by saying such things as " I am sitting by the window now, up in this atrocious nursery" then changes to such things as "I wasn't alone a bit", reflecting on the wallpaper in the nursery that she becomes so engrossed by. She personifies the wallpaper and contrasts it to her own life, she is trapped in the man run society and this wallpaper has a lady, longing to get out behind the bars in the wallpaper, "As she is all the time trying to climb through" The protagonist is a woman whose ideas and opinions are not taken seriously and so her personality must fit with the ideas of her husband. ...read more.


The oppressiveness of Victorian society and the strict code of behaviour expected from women but not men were reflected in her inability to live with the guilt brought about by her adultery. She sees no way out rather than through taking her own life to avoid her disgrace. Like the protagonist in "The Yellow Wallpaper" her children are not central to her life and her relationship with her husband unhappy. " They were part of her life. But they need not have thought that they could posses her body and soul". Edna's limited existence is reflected by the image of " A bird with a broken wing, fluttering, circling, disabled down, down to the water." For her only escape is to leave the life behind her so that her soul can ` wander in abyss of solitude'. It may be argued that women no longer live in the patriarchal society and are able to control their own financial, personal and career destinies. The more cynical observer might argue that there is much more to be achieved if true equality of opportunity is to be a reality. However both "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "The Awakening" present us with a stark image of socially acceptable control and oppression of women just a century ago and the tragedy of two women unable to free themselves from its effect. ...read more.

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