Comparing I Stand Here Ironing and Prisoner on the Hell Planet

Categories: I Stand Here Ironing
About this essay

Tillie Olsen’s story “I Stand Here Ironing” describes the ambivalence of a working woman, who is considered to be poor, about the future of her eldest daughter and her skills for parenting. This story is all about the metaphor of a mother ironing the dress of her daughter as she mentally attempts to “iron” or mend out her troubled connection with her daughter, and this is achieved through a stream-of-consciousness monologue (Davey, 2001).

“Prisoner on the Hell Planet: A Case History.

” Is Art Spiegleman’s comic book that is within the comic book Maus. The book gives the account on the horrific detail that is achieved through the use of pictures, and also the failed effort of Art to get over with the painful loss of his mother due to suicide. The book also represents a part of Artie’s mind, and this is seen through the way he is able to expresses his personal feelings of loneliness, anger, doubt, fear, and also blame.

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He does this through the form of a dark, gloomy, depressing cartoon (Witek, 1989).

Comparing and Contrasting the Two Stories

The narrator in “I Stand Here Ironing” is a middle-aged mother of five, and this is equivalent to the age of Olsen the time she wrote the story. In this story, the woman has been described as a workingclass mother who is supposed to hold down her job and also be in a position to take care for her children at home at the same time. She goes through the cares of life a lone as the father of children had left her long time ago.

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There are many cases where Olsen’s predicament as a young mother have been mirrored, for instance she says, “Her father left me before she was a year old” (Davey, 2001). This story was indicated by the upcoming women’s movement of the early 1960s being an example of the difficulty situations that most of the women were going through at that time. The story is also a representation of the self-doubt that most of the mothers suffer when they are aware that their children are not being given all the attention they deserve. Within the story, it is proved that love or longing is not enough, and Olsen believes that everything that happens must always be weighed against all the forces that are beyond a person’s control. Throughout the story, the aspects of economic state are seen to be the main forces behind the inspiration that Olsen receives, in line with becoming an active mother in left-wing labor causes at a significant young age. There is an unromantic portrait of motherhood that Olsen keeps on using, “I Stand Here Ironing,” which is believed to be the most frequently anthologized of all the Olsen’s stories. Therefore, this is a story that is more inclined to economical aspects than political understanding (Davey, 2001).

“Prisoner on the Hell Planet: A Case History,” is a recount of Artie’s own unfinished or the failed effort to effectively work through the traumatic loss of his mother. The loss extends to his own melancholic and masochistic propensities to personally accept the existing dysfunction of his family and the depression that his mother has. To make it worse is the degree to which his writing put up with the mark of all loses experienced, and this is taken to be a type of working-through in its own right and position. Form the overall cover of the story, it is found out that the existing subtitle “A Case History” is an aspect that mocks the overall case history in psychoanalysis, a state that a patient is “cured” of the continual return of the traumatic past experiences through the rigorous process of the therapeutic intervention (Witek, 1989).

Within the two stories, “Prisoner from the Hell Planet,” and “I Stand Here Ironing” there is non easy closure. In both stories, they are marked with the suffering individual, and “Prisoner from the Hell Planet,” the victim remains captive in the prison, of which he enters himself through his own masochistic melancholia, he creates a jail cell of his own upset self, and the impact is that the person is not able to understand the resultant unconscious connection to the melancholia of his mother, and also the unconscious recognition with the dented father. While in the “I Stand Here Ironing” story, a young woman is found crushing about the upkeep of her children and the commitment in her job, and she found herself going through this messed life alone after the father of her children had a pardoned her.


There is a significant difference in the two stories where by in the “Prisoner on the Hell Planet,” there is a multiple use of pictures. For instance, there is a picture of Artie and his mother at Trojan Lake in 1958, which turns out to be ten years before his mother killed herself. The use of pictures in the story brings a more personal touch to the audience while reading the comic strip, of which is an abstract memory that Artie has of his mother’s suicide, and not just some cartoon. “Prisoner on the Hell Planet,” also uses a lot of strips as compared to “I Stand Here Ironing” story, and there are two frames in one of the strips that portrays Artie explanation that his mother killed herself, she did not leave any note, and the circumstances that Artie’s father found her in the bathtub (Witek, 1989).

When considering the techniques used in the representation of the stories, much of the power of both stories, “I Stand Here Ironing” and “Prisoner on the Hell Planet,” originates from the way in which the stories are told. Narrative technique has been used in both stories to bring out a clear picture of what is expected at the end of each story. In the “I Stand Here Ironing” story, the events that take place within the exact duration of the narrative are taken to be the narrator’s ironing and Emily’s entrance. The remaining narrative elements within the story are events remembered. In this case, the event where a mother irons is an indication of trying to bring together the different moments that transformed her daughter to a young woman she now is. Therefore, the narrator applies the extended interior monologue within the story, which seems to be particularly suited to a story that is primarily all about the resultant psychology of motherhood (Davey, 2001).

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Comparing I Stand Here Ironing and Prisoner on the Hell Planet. (2022, Apr 20). Retrieved from

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