The Journey For Freedom


The Journey For Freedom Essay, Research Paper

There can be such a thing as caring too much for someone, especially when they are ill. No matter what the situations is, when someone tries to control the lives of those who are not well, how can they expect them to get better if they don t really understand what the problem is? This is the common theme between The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin. Each of these stories deals with the suppression of two separate women, Louise and Charlotte, who must overcome their controlling husbands and begin their search for individual freedom.

We must first come to understand the situations each of the main characters are in. Louise Mallard in A Story of an Hour suffers from a heart condition that has afflicted her. Her husband tried to make sure that she was not exposed to anything that would affect her condition. Knowing that Mrs. Mallard was afflicted with a heart trouble, great care was taken to break to her as gently as possible the news of her husband s death. (19) Louise was restrained in the house and only let out when properly supervised. When news of her husband s possible death came, the family and their doctor tried to break the news to her as gently as they could. Little did they know that the death of her husband would be the beginning of her new life. Charlotte in The Yellow Wallpaper must deal with the same type of situation but with a different set of obstacles. Charlotte has even less freedom and a larger hunger for such freedom. Her husband, John, keeps her under strict watch and doesn t let her do anything that would cause her harm. She is confined in her room with the yellow wallpaper to keep her away from any excitement. John keeps a daily schedule for her, controlling every minute of her day. I have a schedule prescription for each hour of the day; he takes all care from me, and so I feel basely ungrateful not to value it more. (246) John wants to control every aspect of her life, including taking away the ability to write. We must also understand that it was typical of a 19th century man to keep tight control of his wife. They would have all the power they wanted and the wives are expected to obey them. But these two women wouldn t let their husbands get control of them for long. Both of them would change themselves.

Both Louise and Charlotte had their hearts set on something that would become a representation for their lives. Louise became infatuated with the yellow dress and the stories that her husband told her about his trips around the world. Since Louise can t go outside of the house it is her dream to do so one day. When her husband had supposedly passed on, she had the chance to live out the dream that she thought of every minute of every day. But her freedom wouldn t last long. Charlotte had the yellow wallpaper, which would become a metaphor for her. She began to see a woman in the wallpaper that was trapped behind it trying to get out, just like her husband traps her inside the room. Charlotte began to rip all the wallpaper off in order to free the woman who was trapped. You know the place is doing you good, he said, and really, dear, I don t care to renovate the house just for three month s rental. (247) Charlotte had begged her husband to remove the paper because it gave her an odd feeling. He didn t want to give into her demands because if he gave into one of her wishes then he could begin to lose his control over her.

Irony is another major player in each of these ladies lives. The most common ironic theme between both of the stories was the control their husbands over the wives. The husbands believed that they were doing the right thing by having their wives do nothing but rest all day but it turns out to be the worst thing for their wives. Both Louise and Charlotte would eventually fall into deep depressions then mental exhaustion or worse. Louise had her heart condition. Her husband, Brently, believed that she shouldn t do anything and just rest with no stress or strain. Louise constantly asked Brently to let her get out of the house and let her visit all of the places he talked about. Louise knew that she could get better but only if she could break the control from her husband. Irony came into Louise s life when she had heard the news of her husband s death. She was drinking in a very elixir of live though that open window. (20) She realized that she could now be free, free, free. (20) His reign of control was over. She could do the things she wanted without him saying otherwise. There would be no powerful will bending her in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow creature. (20) Louise had her hour of freedom, the birth of her new life for the future, until her husband returned home, alive and unharmed. It was more than she could take. With her newfound freedom, there is no way she could let anyone take that away from her. She had died of a heart attack because she would rather be dead and free than be back in the hands of her over controlling husband.

Charlotte would have to deal with her own husband s control over her in her own way. For Charlotte it was much harder to be free because John had much more control over her. Charlotte knew as Louise knew, if she could just get out of their controlled situations that was set for them she could entertain the possibility of getting better. Personally, I believe that congenial work, with excitement and change, would do me good. But what is one to do? (245) Charlotte was well aware of what was right for her but unfortunately no one would listen to her and she couldn t do anything because that was the way women were oppressed in society at that time. She wanted to visit her relatives but John wouldn t hear of it. Visiting them would just bring more stress to her. Charlotte began her descent into madness and her journey to freedom. She went against John s wishes and tore the wallpaper off releasing herself from her prison. She had found the courage to confront her husband and stand up to him. I’ve got out at last, said I, in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve pulled off most of the paper, so you can’t put me back! (256) She not only fought the struggle of her male dominance in that society but also of herself. She had been a result of a society that puts woman in the lowest segment, but she triumphs over her husband as well as herself.

Louise and Charlotte could be seen as having committed different forms of suicide. Louise had given her life up because she couldn t tolerate to live in her dominated life again after tasting freedom. Charlotte had given up her sanity in order to gain her independence over her husband. Both stories show a great deal about the repression that women face in the days of late 1800’s as well showing how the male dominated society worked and how sometimes women suffer because of it. Thankfully as time has gone on, women have gained their freedom and individuality that all women should have had from the beginning.

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