Women In The 21st Century Essay

1079 words - 4 pages

In October 2013, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Education, UNESCO, stated that millions of girls are still being denied an education. Why is it that women in the 21st century are still not given their basic human rights? The effects of oppression are seen in two very controversial short stories. In Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," and William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily", alienation caused from the dominant patriarchal society forces both protagonists into insanity. The narrator placed in solitary confinement by her husband, Emily Grierson’s overprotective father and both women’s obsession results in their madness.

"The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman revolves around a woman’s struggle within a patriarchal society. The story was taking place in the 1920s, where men considered themselves to be superior to women because of the role they played in the society; protector and provider of women. This male dominance led the narrator from “The Yellow Wallpaper” into loneliness and despair. The alienation is shown in terms of the setting, "The most beautiful place! It is quite alone, standing well back from the road, quite three miles from the village"(Gilman 89). The house that the couple rent for three months represents the woman’s physical imprisonment and foreshadows her upcoming madness. The nursery that John recommends his wife to stay in includes many confining elements, like bars on windows. The narrator’s preference of living in the downstairs room is undermined by John’s control over her. Moreover, John puts his wife into an environment with no communication, making her socially isolated. The protagonist is home alone most of the time while John is at work and she is not allowed to raise her own baby, which leaves her overwhelmed of her mental state. Her husband advises the rest cure even though she believes that”congenial work, with excitement and change" would improve her health (88). Her creativity and imagination leads her to discover a figure of a woman trapped behind bars in the yellow wallpaper, which reflects her life; the narrator is trying to overcome the powerful authority figures that have taken away her freedom. The reason this short story was written by Gilman was to reveal the way mental illness was handled in the 19th century, reinforcing that over thinking and no communication with people can drive an individual towards madness. The patriarchal society in the “The Yellow Wallpaper” did the same by alienating the protagonist physically and mentally.

William Faulkner's "A Rose for Emily", explains the acceptable responsibilities of women during the 19th century. Emily Grierson, a woman living in Jefferson, Mississippi, is a victim of the conventions of a male dominant society. The patriarchal figures surrounding her, her father and the townspeople, isolate her from the modern community. The narrator describes,"People in our town believed that the Griersons held...

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