Isolation in “a Rose for Emily” and “the Yellow Wallpaper”

“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman are 2 well composed narratives that involve both resemblances and differences. Both narratives were written in the late 1800’s early 1900’s and illustrate the age when women were viewed less important than guys. The protagonist in each story is a woman, who is restricted in singular due to the men in their lives.

The narrator in “A Rose for Emily” is the mutual voice of the townspeople of Jefferson, while Emily Grierson is the primary character in the story that undergoes a series of bad occasions.

The unnamed, female narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper” is also the main character whose journal we check out. This distinction in tense gives each story a different outlook on the circumstances at hand. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” we get the thoughts and actions of the unnamed storyteller as she sees it, while in “A Rose for Emily” we get Emily’s thoughts form discussion and her actions from the narrative of the townspeople. A comparison in between the lead character in “A Rose for Emily” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” enables readers to translate the primary character’s seclusion from their neighborhood and state of mind.

In each area of “A Rose for Emily”, the narrator goes back and forth in time informing stories of Miss Emily’s life. Emily’s dad was a controlling male who ran all prospect men of Emily’s (Faulkner 77). This triggered Emily to be a dissatisfied, middle-aged, single female who was the talk of the town. Miss Emily isolated herself from all people, other than having a male Negro housekeeper who ran all her errands and took care of her home. According to Floyd C.

Watkins’ “The Structure of ‘A Rose For Emily’ in Modern Language Notes, “The inviolability of Miss Emily’s seclusion is preserved in the central department, part three, which no outsider enters her home” (509 ). In “The Yellow Wallpaper” it is revealed at the beginning of the story that the unnamed female storyteller is “sick” or depressed, and therefore is taken far away from people she understands to rest and get better (Gilman 408). From Tulsa Research studies in Women’s Literature, Paula A.

Treichler’s “Escaping the Sentence: Diagnosis and Discourse in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper'” informs readers “The narrator is prohibited to engage in normal social conversation […] and prevent expressing unfavorable thoughts and expressions about her health problem” (61 ). Although both women were separated, Emily separated herself while the unnamed storyteller was forcefully isolated. In both short stories the main character is judged by the surrounding individuals: Emily as an arrogant, ill woman, and the unnamed storyteller as a “ill”, depressed woman. In “A Rose for Emily” the townspeople were very nosey and extremely judgmental about how people must live there life.

Watkins argues “The contrast in between Emily and the townspeople and in between her home and her environments is carried out by the intrusion of her home by the adherents of the new order in the town” (509 ). Likewise it is displayed at some point after Emily’s dad died when she went to the druggist and purchased arsenic to kill rats (Faulkner 78-79). “… The next day we [the townspeople] all said, ‘She will kill herself’; and we [the townspeople] stated it would be the best thing (Faulkner 79). In “The Yellow Wallpaper” the unnamed storyteller is judged by her family and friends.

In the introduction of the story the unnamed storyteller exposes that her husband, likewise a physician, belittles her illness and her general thoughts of life (Gilman 408). “If a physician of high standing, and one’s own partner, guarantees buddies and relatives that there is truly absolutely nothing the matter with one but short-lived nervous depression– a slight hysterical propensity– what is one to do?” (Gilman 408). The narrator is left in the “colonial estate” for the summertime, not seeing anyone other than her other half, John, John’s sibling, Jennie, who takes care of the narrator and the house, and some relative who concerned check out for a short while.

By the end of each story we realize that both Emily and the unnamed narrator are plainly ridiculous. After Emily’s death and funeral service, the nosey townspeople enter her house and break down a locked away room that had not been gone into in forty years (Faulkner 80). In the room they found the decaying body of Homer Barron, the man that she wished to marry (81 ). “The body had obviously once lain in the attitude of embrace, and now the long sleep that outlives love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him” (Faulkner 81).

A “long hair of iron-gray hair” was on the pillow beside him, indicating that Emily is the result of this disaster (Faulkner 81). Although the townspeople had always thought of Emily as crazy, this finally showed them right. Throughout “The Yellow Wallpaper” it is noted that the unnamed narrator is ill. After being secluded in the upstairs space, “the yellow wallpaper comes to occupy the narrator’s entire reality” affirming her loss of peace of mind and isolation from the world (Treichler 62). “There are things because wallpaper that nobody learns about but me. …] And it is like a woman stooping down and creeping about that pattern” (Gilman 413). The unnamed storyteller in “The Yellow Wallpaper” had taken apart all the wallpaper and locked herself in the room in order to get the lady out from behind the wallpaper (Gilman 417). It is translated that the lady behind the wallpaper is in fact the narrator’s shadow. The parallel making it possible for comparison and contrast in between the main characters in “A Rose for Emily” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” reveals separation, seclusion, and depression as an outcome of life situations.

While differences of circumstances exist in the compared narratives, similarities allow readers to observe occasions causing associations in between the two protagonists. According to reviews, seclusion by both characters is exposed as an entry into the narratives. In “The Yellow Wallpaper” review by Treischler, the confirmation of the unnamed narrator being isolated is verified mentioning “The narrator of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ has actually included her spouse to an isolated country estate …” (62 ).

The review of “A Rose for Emily” by Watkins verifies the isolation of Emily when he communicates “… she withdraws a growing number of until her own death again exposes her to the townspeople.” (509 ). The short stories “A Rose for Emily” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” have lead character as the main character that expose connections of separation enabling associations between the two characters. Work Pointed Out Faulkner, William. “A Rose for Emily.” Literature: An Intro to Reading and Composing. Fourth Compact Edition. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts.

Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008, 75-81. Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Literature: An Intro to Reading and Composing. Fourth Compact Edition. Ed. Edgar V. Roberts. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008, 408-418. Treichler, Paula A. “Escaping the Sentence: Medical Diagnosis and Discourse in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’.” Tulsa Researches in Women’s Literature. 3. 5 (1984 ): 61-77. JSTOR. Web. 11 March 2010. Watkins, Floyd C. “The Structure of ‘A Rose for Emily’.” Modern Language Notes. 69. 7 (1954 ): 508-510. JSTOR. Web. 16 February 2010.

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