Essay on Oppression in The Yellow Wallpaper, At the Cadian Ball, and The Storm

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Fighting Oppression in The Yellow Wallpaper, At the Cadian Ball, and The Storm

In their works, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Kate Chopin show that freedom was not universal in America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The three works, "The Yellow Wallpaper," "At the 'Cadian Ball," and "The Storm" expose the oppression of women by society. This works also illustrate that those women who were passive in the face of this oppression risk losing not only their identity, but their sanity as well.

Gilman's female narrator, who either chose not to fight this tradition or was unable to do so, loses her sanity at the hands of an oppressive male-dominated American society. The narrator feels certain that the
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To the narrator this is seen through the image of broken heads lolling as if they were at the end of a hangman's noose. The narrator thinks that if she is choked off long enough, that she too will end up with a "broken neck," like the women in the pattern. As it turns out, she isn't wrong, but her "broken neck" turns out to be a broken mind.

The wallpaper magnifies the problems the narrator is experiencing. The pattern in the wallpaper is not just an innocent pattern for a children's room as it is first introduced to the reader, but rather it has a mind-numbing quality that readily attracts the projections of the unbalanced mind.

The other characters in "The Yellow Wallpaper" actually notice that there is something unusual about the wallpaper. ". . . I've caught him several times looking at the paper! And Jennie too. I caught Jennie with her hand on it once."2 If the wallpaper is a metaphor for the way society suppresses women, then the reactions of John and Jennie represent the way many men and women of the time period dealt with this oppression. John represents the men in society who, while they mean women no harm, believe that woman are actually inferior to men and must be treated with some manner of delicacy so as not to harm them. When John looks at the wallpaper, he realizes something is strange about it, but he
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