Female Oppression By Emily Dickinson And Charlotte Perkins Gilman

1729 WordsFeb 11, 20157 Pages
Throughout the history of American Literature there has been a common theme of male oppression. Especially towards the end of the 19th century, before the first wave of feminism, women were faced with an unshakeable social prison. Husband, home and children were the only life they knew, many encouraged not to work. That being said, many female writers at the time, including Emily Dickinson and Charlotte Perkins Gilman, were determined to examine the mind behind the American woman, through the lens of mental illness and personal experience. This essay will compare the work of Dickinson and Gilman using the perspective of male oppression leading to mental illness. The goal being to determine which author represented the more authentic “American” woman to the modern reader, despite the crushing weight of patriarchal expectation and mental instability. The complexity and capability of the American female, even as a societal construct, transcends oppression and the patriarchy of the time. The first hurdle in comparing the works of Dickinson and Gilman is examining the superficial features of womanhood in their pieces. In Emily Dickinson’s “764” or, as it is also known: “My Life had stood- a Loaded Gun”, the main superficial features of womanhood are somewhat rudimentary and predictable. Women are merely tools, to be used by men but destined to remain useless otherwise. They are left and forgotten “In Corners-“ (Dickinson 1211) without a man to take them up and “identif[y]”

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