Women in Society
In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Charlotte Perkins Gilman defines the role of women in society in several ways. She defines women as mothers and housewives that do simple jobs and live in the shadow of their husbands. In this time setting women were pretty much only allowed to stay at home and raise the children. She also shows how women are often looked at as fragile and weak. In Gilman’s story, she talks about a woman who is mentally ill, probably with postpartum depression; John, the woman’s husband says, “What is it little-girl? Don’t go walking about like that- you’ll get cold” (Gilman 85). He belittles her and makes her look weak and small by calling her a little girl and telling her she’ll get cold, like a father would tell his child. In Gilman’s story, the woman’s husband and brother are both physicians, but they forbid her to do any work because they think it will make her sickness worse. She wants to work because she feels it would help her get better, but the men won’t let her. It seems that men don’t want women to take credit for anything great and they don’t want their wives out doing more, or making more money than they are.
In “A Journey,” Edith Wharton also defines a women’s role in society as a mother, housewife, or something simple like being a teacher. In her story, Wharton says, “her days has been as bare as he whitewashed school-room where she forced innutritious facts upon reluctant children” (Wharton1). Wharton also talks about how women are given a role of perfection. Society seems to stress that women should be perfect and not make mistakes. They should always be well rehearsed and put together at all times. An example of this in the text is in “A Journey;” it says, “Her head grew confused, and she felt a sick fear of forgetting her part, of betraying herself by some unguarded word or look”(Wharton 6). This quote shows that women feel like they should never let their guard down and shouldn’t be unprepared.