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For years, women have been viewed as the weaker sex. They've had to fight for their basic rights and achieving them hasn't been an easy task. Traditionally, the society sets higher expectations for women. Everything, from the way a woman walks, talks, dresses, sits is judged and most often reprimanded. In literature, some very interesting characters have been based on the type of strained relationship the society and men have with women. There are three short stories that talk about this "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin, "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and "Girl" by Jamaica Kincaid.
These short stories talk about how women were treated in the 19th and 20th century. There are many similarities found among the three stories that this essay will focus on.
Firstly, the three short stories share a common theme of women being treated as a second-class citizen. Living within a social system that is heavily dominated by males, Mrs. Mallard has her spouse's will foisted on her.
In "Girl," the daughter is constantly berated over her behavior, sexuality and her ability to complete domestic tasks. Her mother's domination over her leads the daughter in having no individual identity or freedom whereas, in "The Yellow Wallpaper," the protagonist's mental health is not taken seriously and she isn't allowed to write which is the only creative outlet available. Her husband confines her to the nursery room and prohibits any kind of social interaction.
A second common theme that seems to occur in all three literary selections, is that women are portrayed as frail beings that can easily fall apart.
They are described as weak and dependent on men with a number of limitations set. In case of, "The Yellow Wallpaper," the narrator appears to be on the edge of a nervous breakdown because of which she is brought into a country home.
She is also unable to control her mental "fantasies," and her gloomy future is indicated in the way she views the yellow wallpaper in the upper story of the house where she is restricted to recover: "It is a dull yet lurid orange in some place, a sickly sulphur tint in other" (Mays 528). The protagonist starts to imagine things in the yellow wallpaper and because of the repressive circumstances becomes neurotic. Likewise, in "Girl," it is illustrated that women have expectations to fulfill. Those expectations consist of rules to follow and conform to what society and tradition say.
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