Brinder G. Green
World Literature 2
April, 11th 2006
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892) and Alifa Rifaat, “My World of the Unknown” (1973).
The authors, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Alifa Rifaat, are both females in periods where women played a significantly subordinate role compared to their male counterparts, despite the fact that they lived in two very different societies on opposite sides of the world. Their short stories are considered to be invaluable works of literature, based loosely on their personal experiences as both women reluctantly entered into marriages as was expected by the norms of their respective societies. In the conventional family, the husband was expected to be the strong authoritative bread winner, while the wife’s sole duties were in service to her husband and children; the family’s wellness and happiness were expected to be sufficient to fulfill her entire existence.
The two stories are based in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when women were allowed to exercise very little power and freedom, leaving them feeling empty, oppressed, and of questionable mental stability. The women, both nameless, are the narrators of their stories and each take up residence in a mysterious house along with their husbands and children. Their desire for freedom lead them to seek liberation in the form of the development of a relationship with a mysterious female other that literally originates from the walls of their respective houses.
In “My World of the Unknown” it is apparent that the narrator’s husband is too preoccupied with his work to devote much attention to his wife. In the beginning of the story she says, “When entering the world of my love, and being summoned and yielding to its call, no one would be aware of what was happening to me” (Davis, 1131). Her obsession with her new lover apparently goes unnoticed since she is of such little significance to the people around her....