Fear of Independence: Oppression of Women in the Nineteenth Century

In: English and Literature

Submitted By mc1968
Words 1863
Pages 8
Fear Of Independence:

Oppression of Women In The Nineteenth Century in “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin

and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

What lengths are women willing to go through to avoid being shunned by society; a society they, too, are apart of? Women in the ninetieth century are expected to be poised, courteous, managers of their homes and, most importantly, subordinate to their husbands as well as to society (Hartman). In both “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin (14) and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (118) the protagonists fear living life freely. Is their fear so strong and impossible to overcome that it drives one to insanity and the other to death? These women are expected to be healthy and strong. Unfortunately, due to their never-ending workload of being the perfect women society expects them to be, they are exhausted. Instead of society recognizing this, they are considered ill. Their illness is accepted because it is thought that their ailments are a result of being a woman, which explains to society why they are weak both physically and mentally. They are unlike the men of this time who do not suffer of such ailments! Even today when speaking to women who were raised by the women of the latter part of this era, stories are often told that a sign of a good woman is when her chimney is the first in the morning to start smoking and the last to be smothered. If you dare to question why, you may be met with a confused reaction. The response to your question might be, why would anyone ask why? It just is (Camaj). What do these women fear? Their reputation and good name in society mean more than any freedom that would come from divorce or separation. Even though they know their children would suffer the same realities, they will always choose to live without shame to…...

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