The Awakening and The Yellow Wallpaper

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Kate Chopin's story The Awakening and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story The Yellow Wallpaper draw their power from two truths: First, each work stands as a political cry against injustice and at the socio/political genesis of the modern feminist movement. Second, each text is a gatekeeper of a new literary history. Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman seem to initiate a new phase in textual history where literary conventions are revised to serve an ideology representative of the "new" feminine presence. Two conventions in particular seem of central importance: "marriage" and "propriety". Donald Keesey, editor of the critical collection Contexts for Criticism, describes "convention" for us as,

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These women give birth to a recognizable set of feminist conventions based on the existing conventional lexicon. It is wrong to insist that a truly "female" voice can only be heard and respected in its independence and separation from the once "male" canon. It seems that the only chance for independence would come from the creation of a new language, concretely female and "Amazonian". It must be understood that it is no flaw of "feminist convention" to be seen in relation to male convention; in fact it is necessary, for what is the male without the female, or the female without the male? There was no "male" voice until a female movement emerged to pose opposition to it. The "male" voice which we now identify, before the feminist movement, had simply been the "canon", the sanctioned and the status quo. The relationship of the female to male voices gives strength to both, makes each more distinct and profound. The language they use is the same. This language's maleness derives from the ways in which "men" have insisted it be used. For example, "penis" as a signifier of power was surely an idea purported by a man. It would be silly to say that at the genesis of our English language,
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