“The Chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman are short stories which have a female lead character struggling through a suffocating marital relationship and living in a society that states that ladies can not exist beyond marriage. “The Chrysanthemums” composed by John Steinbeck is a story about a female worn and oppressed by a male controlled world. A world which breaks a lady’s will, strips away their mankind, and obscures who they truly are and what they actually desire out of life.
Eliza, a wife forgotten by her husband and the world, has discovered a bit of joy in her garden. It is here that she discovers solace and comfort. The flowers are her companions.
Similarly, in The Yellow Wallpaper, composed in the century prior to The Chrysanthemums, is also about the oppression of women in society by males. On the surface it was the story of a lady who has a child and suffered from depression.
Her husband, who is also her physician, recommended the “The Mitchell Treatment”. This was a standard treatment for all mental illness throughout this time which included seclusion and rest. The woman, the primary character, was positioned in an attic for a month of recovery. Her only companion was the peeling yellow wallpaper. In the end, both females find, inform as it might be, liberty. Though composed years apart, both Steinbeck and Gilman use signs and character advancement to establish a style of female injustice and survival.
The significant symbol in Steinbeck’s short story is the Chrysanthemum flower. Chrysanthemums are hearty flowers which need particular care, persistence, and tending. Like kids, they need to be taken care of daily, treated with fragile and mild hands. Within her garden paradise she hides herself, as a lady. Steinbeck explains her as a female that wears “a man’s black hat pulled low down over her eyes, clodhopper shoes, a figured print gown nearly entirely covered by a big corduroy apron …” (1 ). Eliza, who is childless, takes pride and convenience in her ability to grow these amazing flowers. They represent for her the kids she was never able to have. She is exceptionally protective of these flowers caring and feeding them like mom nursing her child.
She develops a “baby crib” of wire to make sure that” [n] o aphids, no sowbugs or snails or cutworms” exist. “Her terrier fingers [ruin] such insects before they [can] start” (1 ). Like pointy corners of tables and light sockets, Eliza safeguards her “kids” from the dangers of life. She looks after this flowers like she wants someone had looked after her– mild fingertips touching her own blooms. These flowers motivate the only intimate moments that happened between Eliza and her husband in the whole narrative. He partner drops in her garden and tells her how lovely her flowers are. She blushes and Steinbeck observes “on her face there [is] a little smugness”( 1 ). Eliza offers “birth” to these incredible animals which bring so much beauty to the world, and materials Eliza with her only taste of motherhood (Demott 3).
Similarly, Gilman utilizes the sign of yellow wallpaper. The Yellow Wall-Paper” is a little literary work of art. For almost fifty years it has been ignored, as has its author, among the most commanding feminists of her time. Now, with the brand-new growth of the feminist movement, Charlotte Perkins Gilman is being discovered, and “The Yellow Wall-Paper” needs to share in that rediscovery. The story of a lady’s psychological breakdown (Gilman 37). A significant symbol in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ is the wallpaper itself. The “Yellow wallpaper was a familiar character in realist fiction and was typically discovered to be horrible.” (Roth). The storyteller is upset and eventually repulsed by her only companion, the yellow patterned wallpaper.
The development of what the wallpaper symbolized parallels the mental state of the narrator. When the narrator initially calmed down to her month’s worth of rest in the attic of her home, it is the wall paper she disliked most. It was old, scruffy, and a filthy yellow color. She commented that the worse part of the wallpaper was the dull pattern.
She contemplated about the wallpaper: It is dull enough to puzzle the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke research study, and when you follow the lame unpredictable curves for a little distance they suddenly devote suicide– plunge off at outrageous angles, damage themselves in unusual contradictions. The color is repellent, nearly revolting; a smouldering unclean yellow, oddly faded by the slow-turning sunlight (Gilman 24).
The pattern became the focus of much of the narrator’s time. She tried on numerous celebrations to figure out what the pattern was with no success. “She is mad, of course, by this time, reduced to a paranoid schizophrenic who writes, “I’ve got out at last … in spite of you and Jane. And I’ve managed the majority of the paper, so you can’t put me back!” (36 ).”(Bak). After numerous days of trying she began to see a sub pattern which can only be seen at specific parts of the day depending upon the amount of light being filtered through the windows. She decided that the sub pattern is that of a woman who is sneaking along the flooring on her knees, not even having the ability to stand. She mentions “There is a frequent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck and two round eyes gaze at you upside down” (Gilman 25).
This lady was sent to prison by the primary pattern and wanted just to leave her cage. The primary pattern became clear to the narrator. She believed the primary pattern were heads of those females who attempted to get away but were caught in between the bars. It was clear that as the month passed the mental state of the storyteller ended up being progressively unsteady. The wallpaper and it’s pattern likewise represented the societal chains (treatment, family, and marriage) which have actually imprisoned her for so long. The yellow wallpaper has actually become synonymous with the domestic bars which trapped females in their inferior functions as spouses and mother in the 1800s.
Through using both signs, Steinbeck and Gilman track the internal dispute of their particular protagonists. In Steinbeck’s short story, it is the Chrysanthemum which are indirectly responsible for Eliza awakening. The chrysanthemums produce a circumstance in which Eliza meets a man which promotes and re-ignites her female sensuality, that has been long forgotten. Steinbeck describes Eliza removed of her female side and like her home, that she was “hard-swept and hard-polished” (1 ). Henry fails to notice and considers approved the feminine qualities which Eliza gives the relationship. His love for her did not exist anymore.
The couple lives like complete strangers. Eliza, submissive and faithful, does not addresses her discontent with her husband and their relationship stays empty. He says, to her about her chrysanthemums, “I want you ‘d work out in the orchard and raise some apples that huge” (1 ). She is resentful and unhappy which triggers her to conceal in her garden. One afternoon while she is attending to her flowers she fulfills a traveling salesperson who stops and appreciates her flowers. Steinbeck explains the complete stranger in the list below way:
Elisa saw that he was a huge man. Although his hair and beard were graying, he did not look old. His worn black fit was wrinkled and found with grease. The laughter had actually disappeared from his face and eyes the moment his laughing voice stopped. His eyes were dark, and they had plenty of the brooding that gets in the eyes of teamsters and of sailors. The calloused hands he rested on the wire fence were broken, and every crack was a black line. He removed his battered hat. (1 )
When he flirts with her indirectly, she melts. She is thirsty for the attention a guy offers to a lady. The complete stranger visually touches the flowers, commenting that the flowers were like delicate “fast puff [s] of colored smoke,”( 243) and she can feels his fingers like they were on her skin. Chrysanthemums represent Eliza long last sensuality and her requirement to be satisfied physically and mentally. Eliza rapidly responds and” [tears] off the battered hat and [shakes] out her dark pretty hair”( 1 ). The cold Elisa suddenly ends up being the image of perfect femininity soft and flowing, contrasting versus the strong male.
She is attracted to him and uses him the only gift she can, a singe red chrysanthemum– a symbol of her spiritual femininity. Through this stimulation, Eliza is inspired to again get in touch with her body and soul (Wilson 34). After a dinner eaten in silence with a man who does not like her, Eliza is forced to endure the car journey home. Weeping, and staring out the window she sees her bloody red chrysanthemums tossed on the side of the roadway, and she feels her soul pass away once again.
Gilman utilizes her symbol of the yellow wallpaper in the same way, her lead character is very first put behind bars and then awakened by the wallpaper. Gilman actively asserts through her usage of significance and the psychological wear and tear of the narration that females, at the turn of the century, suffering from mental illness were maltreated. Her hubby, who is also her physician, recommended the “The Mitchell Treatment” (Hume).
This was a standard treatment for all mental disorders throughout this time which included isolation and rest. The woman, the main character, was put in an attic for a month of recovery. Her only buddy was the peeling yellow wallpaper. Gradually the unnamed narrator slipped into deep depressive psychosis. It is not until she shirked off the treatment and the undetectable societal chains that she ends up being well once again.
The theme of injustice is overwhelmingly present in both narratives. Eliza’s present of the chrysanthemum represents the physical interaction in between a guy and a lady. After the stranger leaves, with quicken breath, she practically drifts into her house and draws herself a hot bath. She finds her “little block of pumice” and literally scrubs her body– “legs and thighs, loins and chest and arms, until her skin was scratched and red”( 1 ). She urgently cleans, symbolically bringing blood back into her lifeless body and soul. She dresses gradually finding her best lingerie and gown. She applies makeup and prepares to go out on a “date” with her other half.
She patiently awaits for her hubby to come in from the fields. She hopes her partner will feel romantically toward her again. She hopes that he provide her with the exact same sensuous stimulation that those few short minutes with the stranger. Regrettably, her hopes are not satisfied. When Henry lastly sees his better half, he delicately comments “You look strong enough to break a calf over your knee, happy enough to consume it like a watermelon” (1 ). Eliza regrets her partner’s lack of beauty, as if he is purposefully trying to crush her soul. She gradually loses the lady that she had found hours before. After a dinner consumed in silence with a male who does not enjoy her, Eliza is forced to endure the car journey house. Weeping, and gazing out the window she sees her bloody red chrysanthemums tossed on the side of the road, and she feels her soul die as soon as again.
Gilman’s narrator is also mistreated by her other half and society in basic. John, her husband, a “smart” man of medicine, inflicts a loutish and gender-biased “remedy” on her– and this tale, as Gilman claims, exposes such boorish barbarism. However, Gilman’s mad storyteller reveals not only the ills of the rest cure treatment and a repressive domestic culture filled with Johns and Jennies, but also her hatred for a domestic (and maternal) function she has no desire to presume. “The Yellow Wall-Paper” not only rejects, as Gilman meant, the gender-biased rest remedy of the nineteenth-century, however likewise indicts, less effectively, gender-biased meanings of mental disorder.
Wives during this time were “‘freed’ from the requirement of contributing to society outside the house, most likely because marital relationship befit her for motherhood and motherhood needed all of her energies.”(O’Donnell). In spite of her triumphant unmasking of medical (mainly male) gender predisposition in this tale, Gilman’s storyteller falls apart so totally in the end that she tends, regrettably, to strengthen the typical nineteenth-century gender stereotype of the emotionally and physically frail nineteenth-century woman.
Steinbeck through the use of chrysanthemums asserts that ladies are oppressed and sent to prison by world that was built for men. Through elaborate detail, wit, and symbolism Steinbeck breathes life into the story of a female totally controlled by her hubby, and suffocated by world. She experiences brief awakening throughout a short interaction with a complete stranger. Steinbeck utilizes chrysanthemums evoke the feeling of renewal, renewal, autonomy, and womanhood. Eliza entirely broken down and she falls apart “sobbing weakly-like an old lady”(X).
Her spouse takes her given and does not see that she is lady with needs and desires. Not only does her partner overlook her but so does the world. The stranger which seemed to admire all of Eliza’s qualities represents the world. Simply as that guy tossed away Eliza’s stunning flowers due to the fact that they were unnecessary. Steinbeck’s point is that is exactly the male controlled world views and treats ladies. Society is overbearing to females, allowing them not to “bloom”, keeping women submissive and docile. Eliza is not valued by the world due to the fact that she is female. She indicated just to exist for her partner and family. Eliza attempts to be a female in world where her womanly charms are ignored by her husband and the world in general.
To endure she ignores who she genuinely is and finds happiness in her garden. When she is briefly re-awakening, she attempts once again to discover her real self. However, her hubby and the world will not let her and she must once again, for the last time, reduce who she is and what she desires. Through using comparable literary gadgets the style of female oppression and liberation is explored in a different way in “The Chrysanthemums” and “The Yellow Wallpaper.” The injustice of ladies in a male dominated world has plagued society for centuries. The stories of women are frequently left unknown and considered unimportant. To fully explore this theme both authors use significance and cautious character advancement.
The primary sign discovered in The Yellow Wallpaper is that of the rotting yellow wallpaper that is in the attic where the storyteller is sent out for isolation. It’s decay parallels the decay of the narrator. In addition, Gilman details this decrease and checks out the inner operations of the narrator through the character development leading up to the narrator’s choice that she did wish to live.
Likewise, Steinbeck utilizes the symbol of the Chrysanthemum to represent Eliza’s life, seclusion, freedom, and emotional death. There is just a little set of literary tools offered to authors, of any genre, through which styles like injustice can be taken a look at. It is through the distinct manipulation of these tools, and the intense proficiency of fantastic American authors that such a diverse approach to survival can be cut off, showed, and shared.
Works Pointed out
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DeMott, Robert. Steinbeck’s Typewriter: Essays on His Art. Revised ed. Troy, NY: Whitston Publishing, 1997.
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wall-Paper. Revised ed. New York: Feminist Press, 1996.
Hume, Beverly A. “Managing Insanity in Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper”.” Studies in American Fiction 30.1 (2002 ): 3+.
O’Donnell, Margaret G. “A Reply to “Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Reassessing Her Significance for Feminism and Social Economics.” Evaluation of Social Economy 54.3 (1996 ): 337+.
Roth, Marty. “Gilman’s Arabesque Wallpaper.” Mosaic (Winnipeg) 34.4 (2001 ): 145+.
Steinbeck, John. “The Chrysanthemums.” Literature: An Intro to Reading and Writing. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Fourth Compact ed. New York: Prentice Hall, 2007.
Wilson, Edmund. The Boys in the Back Room: Notes on California Novelists. San Francisco: Colt Press, 1941. Questia.