Oppression in Women
16 April 2017
In “A Rose for Emily” written by William Faulkner (pictured below) and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, we encounter two women who are experiencing similar problems. Emily is drawn away and faces depression and the fear of losing tradition while, the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is struggling with post-partum depression and a know it all husband. Both women are now having to deal with the troubles brought on to them by the male roles in their lives. While for one it is working to her “advantage,” the other is mentally going crazy in her new vacation home. Through the study of the character’s relationships and mental illness in both stories and the use of the setting, we see how oppressed women become due to the way men treat them.
Throughout the entire story of “A Rose for Emily,” we encounter many reasons how Emily’s father has shaped Emily to become the person she became. “We remembered all the young men her father had driven away, and we know that with nothing left she would have to cling to that which have robbed her” (Faulkner 32). Emily’s father was super protective of his daughter as we can see from the prior sentence. It is seen as though that became Emily’s greatest down- fall. She was so use to her father doing everything and being around for her always that when he passed, it took her three days to admit and face the fact that he was really gone. This ultimately gave us an insight into how messed up she really was. Her other male relationship included that with Homer. As we see it doesn’t end well. Emily is the opposite from the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper in the sense that she controls the man after her father in her life. She even poisoned him with arsenic.
In comparison to Emily, the woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper” also suffered due to the fact of how her relationship was with a man. In her case her husband. In both stories the men had control of them. Not in a way as slavery but as in they oversaw the household. In the woman’s case her husband and brother are doctors who diagnosed her with post-partum depression or “temporary nervous depression” and “knew exactly what she needed to get better.” The woman was ordered to take “phosphates or phosphites-whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to “work”” (Gilman 305). We can clearly see she is seen as under her husband because she doesn’t even know what kind of medication she was told to take. The funny thing is her husband didn’t even believe she was sick. The woman ultimately blames her husband for why she doesn’t get better, “(I would not say it to a living soul, of course, but this dead paper a great relief to my mind)- PERHAPS that is one reason I do not get well faster” (Gilman 305). She knows the situation she is in is maybe not because of her husband but it is only getting worse because of how he has instructed everyone to treat her. He even sent his sister to come watch over her and make sure she wasn’t doing literally anything. But the woman doesn’t fall far behind Emily in the sense of being stronger than the man because although she was going insane her husband was more weak minded than her and couldn’t handle much. “Now why should that man have fainted? But he did, and right across my path by the wall, so that I had to creep over him every time” (Gilman 315). He faints at the sight of seeing her and the fact that she creeps over him every time gives us the reassurance that she was stronger than him all along. In comparison in both stories the women end up insane due to the fact of one male relationship they had and how men think that they need to be sheltered.
Both woman battled mental illnesses. Each one a different type but ultimately a mental illness. Emily didn’t want to let go of the past and face the future and that drove her to do crazy things. And the woman was fighting post-partum depression which drove her to go crazy. Emily’s condition which was not clearly stated was evident from the very beginning. She believed that she did not have to pay taxes and that by stating that it would all go away. We also get a sense of her illness when her father died and the towns people would go pay their condolences and “Miss Emily met them at the door, dressed as usual and with no trace of grief on her face.” (Faulkner 32). For three days, she did this and claimed her father was not dead. This wasn’t the only instant where her illness was prevalent. We also experienced her craziness at the end when “We noticed that in the second pillow was the indentation of a head” (Faulkner 36). Here the towns people find her grey hair on the pillow telling them she slept with her lover’s corpses.
Although the woman from “The Yellow Wallpaper” suffered from post-partum depression (definition below) she too went crazy. Her husband believed that his method was curing her but it was only feeding her illness. She believes that she came out of that wallpaper. “I wonder if they all come out of that wall-paper as I did” (Gilman 315). The story and illness all seem so unreal but it was based off Gilman’s actual illness. In the research paper below we see exactly everything she went through and how she feels that the “do nothing method” not only didn’t work but drove both her and the woman in the story to crazy.
Postpartum depression occurs in women soon after giving birth. Symptoms include sadness and hopelessness. Counseling…www.webmd.com
The settings in both stories show a different side of the characters. The woman is living in “The most beautiful place!” (Gilman 305). She is quite fond of her home which is surprising since that is ultimately where she loses her mind. “It makes me think of English places that you read about, for there are hedges and walls and gates that lock, and lots of separate little homes for the gardeners and people” (Gilman 305). At first thought you wouldn’t think this is a place where one could ultimately go crazy but we see otherwise especially in the room with the hideous yellow wall paper and the bed that was nailed to the floor meant for a crazy person to stay there. In “A Rose for Emily she lives in the exact house one would think a crazy person would live. “It was a big, squarish frame house that had once been white, decorated with cupolas…” (Faulkner 30). Although both houses are different the setting of both play an important role in proving the mental illnesses of both women.
Back in the day women were seen as less of a person compared to men. These stories were written years apart but even as time went on things never changed. Woman were always seen as less even up to this point in time. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, author of “The Yellow Wallpaper” was a big believer that women and their minds were just as great as men if not better. In both stories the women suffered from mental illnesses if not brought on, made worse by men. Studying their relationships, illnesses, and settings we can see the differences and similarities of both characters.