“The Yellow Wallpaper” and “A Jury of Her Peers,” both written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Susan Glaspell, are contemporary short stories that depict the experiences of women in a patriarchal society. These two writers seem to have produced much more evolved stories than previous authors. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “A Jury of Her Peers,” the tales include rich examples of subordination of women in marriage and subjugation of women themes, respectively.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” is told in the first person, explaining the author’s life and “rest-cure” state of loneliness. On the onset of the story, the author seems to be in a depression or going through one caused by the male counterpart. As the story proceeds, she eventually loses her mind and sets in insanity. In Susan’s “A Jury of Her Peers”, it deals with a similar theme as had been stated in the introduction section of this paper (Glaspell 3). Female submission can be seen in this case as she brings the differences between females and males in regards to their roles in the marriage and larger society. The varying roles of female and males in these two stories symbolize and express the widespread trends in the society in which they both lived. It is imperative to note that the idea of male dominance in bringing out the subordination and subjugation of women is clearly expressed by both authors.
Gilman in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” uses a tale of psychological horror to speak of the position held by women in marriages. She indeed points out a similar notion pointed out by Susan of the practices being carried out by the respective classes (Gilman 10). Being mentally disturbed, it was expected that the author would be taken to a proper house considering her condition. That does not happen as the woman is seen to be taken to a seemingly reclusive house so as to recuperate. The shabby little house as stated in the story, was where the narrator would spend last years. The narrator uses the word “lonesome” six times in this story and three of these words are spent in describing the physical condition of the house. She points that “It looked very lonesome this cold March morning. It had always been a lonesome- looking place.” The narrator is seen to have no say in this decision making even in the smallest contribution in her life. The narrator is forced to retreat into obsessive fantasy since it was the only way of exercising and controlling mind’s ability. Also in “A Jury of Her Peers,” both women and men are described as having distinctly different roles in regards to their gender. The story also depicts the varying opportunities that are available to both in regards to the division of labor in the house and in the society at large.
As much as “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “A Jury of Her Peers” by Gilman and Susan respectively depict differences of a woman who is mentally disturbed and the other accused of murdering her husband, they both have a common apex (Gilman 15). They show how women in those times were treated and also how they were expected to carry themselves. The stories speak of oppression experienced by women in the male-dominated houses. It is evident that in both stories men control or at least try controlling their women not taking to account their will and thus influencing their lives.
Although the two stories use different references in expressing the subordination and subjugation of women they indeed focus on the very feminist perspective that is seen to be eroded. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the author directly shows how narrator feelings with respect to her husband and also with respect to other men in her life. Gilman describes how the women felt in her time and how the men had a voice and controlled by his family (Gilman 28). In order to show how women in her time had been influenced by this, in her story, Mrs. Wright murders her husband. She does that in order to attain equality and freedom. The author favors women in this story because she sees the lack of freedom for women in the society. On the other hand, men were the bad characters in the story because Glaspell wants to show the readers that men should not have all the control. In “A Jury of Her Peers”, Susan clearly illustrates the existing conflicts between men and women and how there existed favoritism amongst them (Glaspell 11). She further illustrates the highly stereotypical role if given the avenue, can crop up oppression of women. She also points out how harmful it can also be for their men’s counterpart.
The subjugation and subordination of women in these two stories are not necessarily confined to only the social and economic aspects. As a matter of fact, for Gilman, the then conventional middle-class marriage had its rigid variations between the “active” role of the male and the “domestic” role of the female. She points out how the above condition ensured women kept their second cadre citizens. In her story, it reveals how the gender division affected the women as it kept them in a state of ignorance that prevented them from fully developing their roles in the society (Gilman 43). For instance, John’s assumed how superior he was in as far as wisdom and maturity were concerned. This made him dominate and misjudge his wife thinking that he was helping her. In Susan’s story, the male characters had social expectations as far as women were concerned. They presented a form of personalized oppression. They belittled women for their choice of interest and weaknesses. For instance, Mr. Peters is identified mocking his wife over her fear of traveling. They were to travel to the house where the murder had been committed.
In asserting the authors’ shared purpose, “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “A Jury of Her Peers” by Susan Glaspell clearly reflects on the domination of women by their men in marriages and society in general (Glaspell 14). In ancient years roles played by both genders have evolved as compared to this recent times. Women solely confined around the house chores in cooking and also catering for the children. Their men in most of the families covered in the story regarded to be winners in each house household they belonged to.
In conclusion, it is seen how men devalue their women in these two stories. Female submission has been taken for hoax as, in turn, they get less and fewer avenues to exercise their will to contribute in matters pertaining to marriage and society as a whole. The cases presented in the stories bring the differences between female and males in regards to their roles in the marriage and larger society. Thus pointing how men devalue their women.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The yellow wall-paper. Penguin UK, (2015): 1-55.
Glaspell, Susan, and Edward Joseph Harrington O’Brien. A jury of her peers. University of Virginia Library, (2005): 1-19.