Gender Functions in The Yellow Wallpaper and Huckleberry Finn
July 25, 2013 American Literature II The Interpretation of Gender in Late 19th Century American Literature In the late 19th Century, America experienced it’s most “gilded period,” so to speak, in non-traditional women’s literature including brand-new questions into of gender freedom and equality. A typical component of several of the works from this time duration focused on themes of the Cult of Real Womanhood and non-traditional parent-child relationships. The stories also play down some gruesome social inequalities obvious in this era, or at least bring the double requirements to the surface.
Two of the best examples of this are Mark Twain’s, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Charlotte Gilman’s, The Yellow Wallpaper. We get varying views of the female/parent figure in the literature, and it’s intriguing to see the widespread gender inequalities and circumstances of social inferiority. In The Yellow Wallpaper, we get a peek of the social inability of females as there was an odd dynamic in the relationship with John, the hubby. He addressed his spouse as if he was talking with a very young, ignorant child.
This is most apparent when Gilman writes, “Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose,” (Gilman, 794). She even begins to suit the childish function, as you can see when she says, “I weep at nothing, and sob the majority of the time.” (Gilman, 796). John’s actions were an effect to her distressed mental state, but still struck a particular interest in her condition. In this circumstance the parent-child dynamic is not tailored towards a real household, however to the other half, and very demeaning in his approach.
She is left almost no liberties to recuperate from her condition, which was most likely due to post-partum anxiety as we understand it today. In The Experiences of Huckleberry Finn, Twain seems to recommend that Huck wasn’t delighted with the life he was living with the Widow Douglas. She was a single mother figure, and Huck truly desired for a daddy figure and a freer method to live life. The widow was extremely strict and did not have any charisma for Huck to latch onto. This is evident when Huck says,
The Widow Douglas, she took me for her kid, and permitted she would sivilize me; but it was rough living in your home all the time, considering how depressing regular and decent the widow was in all her methods; and so when I could not stand it no longer, I lit out. (Twain, 131). His biological daddy eventually took Huck in, it was a bad circumstance for him, however was still better than his time with the Widow Douglas. When Huck lastly decides to flee, he meets Jim who is a far better role model, in spite of being from a different ethnic background at the height of racial discrimination.
Jim really looks after Huck, and you can see this most plainly when Jim does not let Huck see his father on the boat, and refuses to tell him who it was. Jim informs Huck, “It’s a dead male. Yes, certainly; naked, too. He’s ben shot in de back. I reck ‘n he’s ben two er 3 days. Come in, Huck, however doan’ look at his face– it’s too gashly.” (Twain, 161). Huckleberry also cares for Jim, as you can see when he deals with to buy Jim’s liberty. This seems to be a caring relationship that both Jim and Huck desired, and it was definitely better than Huck’s genuine father scenario and the expectant Widow Douglas.
Thinking about these works were written at a similar time, it’s really intriguing to compare how the moms and dad figures exist. When you observe John and his partner in the Yellow Wallpaper, the relationship appeared one of caretaker and baby. She frequently delays not to ask questions, as he is much better and knows better. This is evident when Gilman rights, “It is so hard to talk with John about my case, because he is so smart, and because he enjoys me so.” (Gilman, 797). It practically seems as if he pities her, and she requires him since she’s unable to look after or fend for herself.
In Twain’s work you acquire a totally various picture. Jim and Huckleberry have a very good relationship, one that almost resembles a healthy father-son relationship. The Widow Douglas and her embodiment of the Cult of Real Womanhood was distasteful for Huckleberry. Unlike The Yellow Wallpaper, the child reciprocates care for the parent in Twain’s work, and this is clear when Huck and Tom consent to totally free Jim. Twain composes, “I’m low down; and’m agong to steal hm, and I desire you to keep mum and not let on. Will you?’ His eye illuminated, and he says: ‘I’ll help you steal him'” (Twain, 269).
The difference may lie in the “child’s” desire to have a parenting figure, and Huck had more desire than the wife in the Gilman work. The Yellow Wallpaper revealed a various relationship, one that wasn’t as reasonable to the liberty that women must anticipate. The wife was plainly mentally unsteady, and treatment was being forced upon her by her spouse. At no other time in the story was it more apparent when John stated, “The repairs are refrained from doing at home, and I can not possibly leave town just now. Naturally if you were in any threat, I might and would, but you really are much better, dear, whether you can see it or not.
I am a medical professional, dear, and I understand.” (Gilman, 798). She didn’t wish to be secured a room with no stimuli, however her spouse believed it to be the very best strategy. Throughout the work John is discussing his better half’s head, treating her like a kid, and doing what he thinks to be best without ever consulting her. This was a genuine contrast in contrast to the Twain story, as the parent-child relationship in the Gilman work was not entirely consensual. John forced treatment upon his other half, doing what he believed to best, and eventually he didn’t assist and pushed her even more into insanity.
Eventually one of the most significant distinctions in the 2 works was the willingness of the kid figure to parented. Huckleberry was yearning for the relationship he never ever might have had with his dad, while the Storyteller in the Gilman work had no desire to be dealt with as a child. This is probably why the two works reveal such various discussions of the relationship. John genuinely took care of his other half, but it didn’t have the very same impact on the reader as the Twain story. When comparing the two works you see connections to the author’s realities also.
You can see Gilman’s situation plainly as she experienced a breakdown extremely comparable to the Narrator’s in the story. She was accompanying the same treatment of no stimulation or socializing as the Storyteller, however eventually decided that the only way she would improve is with writing and mental stimulation. In the Twain work it is more of a stretch, but Twain lost his daddy at a young age, and Huck’s relationship with Jim could show the teen relationship Twain himself missed out on with his dad. In the Gilman work, you can not assist however wonder if she holds some sort of animosity towards her spouse.
The narrator is experiencing a psychological break-down similar to what Gilman herself experienced, and she makes a point to demonstrate how dissatisfied with the treatment the narrator is. Gilman herself wrote on about how dissatisfied she was with the lack of stimulus, just as the storyteller did, and frequently snuck around to write, just as the narrator did. She was very comparable to her storyteller, and perhaps the tone of the daddy figure in the story resembles an experience Gilman herself experienced while she was getting treatment. In both works we’re presented relationships that are untraditional.
Moms and dad figures are looking after children figures, when in truth there is no basis for the relationship. In Twain, it was a favorable relationship with Jim, as both members of the relationship cared for each other and wished to assist and be helped, yet the done not like Widow Douglas interferes with a healthy parent-child relationship. This remains in contrast to the Gilman work, where the narrator didn’t particularly request for aid, and even seemed to resent it. She required mental help, but her spouse patronize her nearly the whole time, and it seemed as though assistance and treatment was being required onto her.
Overall the 2 works share similar things in respect to having an untraditional relationship, however the determination of the child figure is what makes all the difference. Huckleberry wanted to have a parent after the rigorous Widow Douglas gives him up, while the storyteller in the Yellow Wallpaper didn’t restore any of her health with aid pushed upon her. Referral: Crane, Stephen, and Gilman, Mary. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 8th ed. Vol. C. New York: Norton, 2012. Print.