American Literature 9 March 2013 The Struggle for Power in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” “Daddy,” and “Editha” Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s piece, “The Yellow Wallpaper” (written in 1890, published in 1892), is a semi-autobiographical piece that, although believed to be an outcome of her extreme postpartum depression, highlights the difficulties faced by ladies during the Women’s Motion. These problems are further illustrated by the likewise semi-autobiographical poem, based on Plath’s daddy and other half, “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath (composed in 1962, released in 1965).
These gender functions are then reversed in “Editha,” (composed in 1898, released in 1905) which has been stated to be William Dean Howells’s reaction to the Spanish-American War.
“The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath and “Editha” by William Dean Howells all illustrate the dispute in gender functions during the Women’s Movement in 19th and 20th Centuries. From the start, the storyteller in Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” enables males, particularly her other half, John, to be remarkable to her.
As a doctor, he buys her to stay in bed and discontinue anything stimulating, such as being creative or writing. Though she feels better when she composes, and feels it may be beneficial, she does not speak against John but composes in private: “Personally I disagree with their concepts. Personally, I think that congenial work, with excitement and modification, would do me excellent. However what is one to do?” By asking the end question, she essentially mentions that she is not her hubby’s equivalent and has no option but to listen, and is accepting of this.
She even follows John’s orders even when he is not present to implement them: “John states the really worst thing I can do is to think about my condition, and I confess it always makes me feel bad. So I will let it alone and speak about your home.” This reaction can be compared to what many individuals experience today with medical professionals. Although individuals usually understand what will make themselves feel better, they will usually follow the suggestions of a physician instead, just due to the fact that physicians are figures of authority. The narrator understands that composing and interacting socially would help and clearly wishes to recover rom her disease, but she allows her other half and sibling, who is also an appreciated physician, to control her treatment. The woman’s description of the wallpaper is symbolic of the advancement of her disease. The wallpaper, upon very first intro and description, totally highlights how the woman concerns her disease: “It is dull enough to confuse the eye in following, pronounced enough to constantly irritate and provoke research study, and when you follow the lame uncertain curves for a little range they unexpectedly devote suicide-plunge off at outrageous angles, destroy themselves in unprecedented contradictions. As Paula A. Triechler specifies in her paper, “Leaving the Sentence: Diagnosis and Discourse in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper,'” “Like all good metaphors, the yellow wallpaper is variously translated by readers to represent (among other things) the “pattern” which underlies sexual inequality, the external manifestation of neurasthenia, the narrator’s unconscious, the storyteller’s scenario within patriarchy” (3 ). This portrays not only how the female feels about herself and her disease, but also the result of her partner’s orders.
The “lame unsure curves” are most likely a recommendation to her other half’s treatment orders, and “suicide” might extremely well be the outcome if followed. The “unheard of contradictions” express the faultiness of John’s techniques. At one point she explains his contradictions: “he says no one but myself can assist me out of it, that I need to use my will and self-control and not let any silly fancies run away with me,” yet, he does not enable her to do as she wills. She explains writing as a relief, but due to the fact that John has advised her to stop writing, she lets her creativity kept up the lines of the wallpaper.
The more she allows her mind to roam, the more confident she ends up being, which is reflective in her description of the lady in the wallpaper. The initial description of this female is of her “stooping down and creeping about.” The woman in the wallpaper is a direct reflection of the narrator’s self-confidence and sensations of inferiority, and the change they undergo. At first, the female in the wall symbolizes the narrator’s fear of providing herself and her viewpoints, and being her spouse’s equivalent. She begins to display a structure confidence in herself, and a nearly entertained view of John’s orders.
When John tells her that she seems to be succeeding, in spite of the wallpaper, she has to stop herself from honestly chuckling. It is at this point, where she is building confidence in herself, that she starts to see the woman in the wallpaper more clearly. She states, “I believe that female gets out in the daytime! And I’ll inform you why– privately– I’ve seen her!” symbolizing her self-confidence starting to emerge. Finally, she permits herself to be completely positive; she allows her mind to completely check out the wallpaper. The lines, “then I removed all the paper I might reach standing on the flooring.
It sticks badly and the pattern just enjoys it,” symbolizes the destruction of that which limits her. One may argue that she has had a psychotic break, but the intent of these lines is to reveal the storyteller acquiring self-confidence. As Gilman says herself in a post sent to the October 1913 problem of The Forerunner regarding her treatment: “then, utilizing the residues of intelligence that remained […] I cast the kept in mind expert’s recommendations to the winds and went to work again– work […] in which is delight and growth and service, without which one is a pauper and a parasite– eventually recovering some measure of power. This is the same message as the last lines of the story; “I have actually gone out at last,” she states to John, “in spite of you and Jane. And I have actually pushed off the majority of the paper so you can’t put me back” meaning she can no longer be told what she must do and she is now in control, sneaking over the fainted John. Likewise, Sylvia Plath highlights the path she required to break totally free, from the memory of her father, in her poem “Daddy.” Plat compares the confinement her daddy’s memory has created to a shoe, that for thirty years, she was caught in, too scared to “attempt to breathe or Achoo. Throughout the poem, Plath utilizes similes and metaphors to provide a dramatic view on the relationship between herself and her dad. Plath aligns gypsies and Jewish people with the female figure, and she lines up German Nazis with both male figures, she employs these contrasts to draw ladies as victims and men as persecutors. Plath continues this description of confinement by saying she is a Jew in “Dachau, Auschwitz, Belsen.” She continuously explains her dad as black, and even tells her daddy: You stand at the chalkboard, daddy, In the photo I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot However no less a devil for that, no not Any less the black man who Bit my pretty red heart in two. She resents her dad for abandoning her, yet she still feels bound to his memory, a lot so that after burying him at the age of 10, she tried suicide at twenty attempting to “get back, back, back” to him (“Daddy” 59). Plath even more illustrate this confinement to his memory by describe she wed a guy who, basically, was her daddy but after 7, metaphorically, killed her other half hence freeing her of the memories of her daddy. As Guinevara A.
Nance and Judith P. Jones describe in “On ‘Daddy,'” Plath achieves, through making use of relative sequential sequencing of youth memories, and on through the tried suicide “to the point at thirty when the lady tries to liberate herself from her picture of daddy, is a dramatization of the process of psychic purgation in the speaker” (par. 3). While “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “Daddy” are stories illustrating women breaking totally free, “Editha,” by William Dean Howells, is a story of a female who desires to overpower her betrothed and by doing so presses him into war.
Editha wants a hero in William Dean Howells’s “Editha” and will not stop brief of encouraging her betrothed to go off to war to accomplish this dream. In this short story gender distinctions are at play, however in reverse: Editha feels a patriotic duty to her nation even if that indicates going off to war, while George sees war as ridiculous. In addition, as Philip Furia from the University of Minnesota states in “Editha”: The Feminine View, Editha’s optimistic mind set is tainted by her “unconscious desire to deactivate her lover” (279 ).
This unconscious desire is shown by her enjoyment in concerns to the war, the possibility of George being impaired and her belief that he will be ideal if he gets. Upon hearing of the war statement Editha right away considers George and how wonderful it would be if he were a war hero. She feels it is a man’s patriotic responsibility to serve his nation, in war; however, she barely perceives the sacrifice of enlisting, in most cases that sacrifice being the employed’s life. Editha is concentrated on an image of excellence and how she will appear to others as the female betrothed to a brave solider.
She thinks he would be perfect and deserving of her love if he employs. George’s sensations about war are quiet opposite and he voices this when he asks “is it wonderful to break the peace of the world?” (“Editha” par. 9). He clearly finds war to be unneeded however this belief disappears after he goes drinking with pals. He then returns to Editha’s house, drunk, to boast about enlisting and his title of Captain. Editha is pleased with his enlistment, even after George tells her of his daddy, who lost an arm in the Civil War.
This story, rather of scaring her as George means, thrills Editha; she becomes fascination with the idea of George needing her 2 arms, which would provide her supremacy (Furia 280). Editha’s preoccupation with subduing George is evident in her reaction to him, drunkenly, recounting employing after which he kisses her in a way very “unlike him, that made her feel as if she had actually lost her old enthusiast and discovered a complete stranger in his place,” she discovers that “within her wilfulness she [has] been terrified by a sense of subtler force in him [sic] (“Editha” para. 4). After George has announced his enlistment, Editha is happy with his near-perfection, but this near-perfection is lost when George’s name is on the list of those killed. She reels not only from sorrow but from disbelief because her idealistic picture did not include this and, because of that, she can not comprehend how it might possibly be. Editha goes to check out Mrs. Gearson, as George had asked before deploying, it is then that Editha sobs; however, Editha weeps with relief since she feels in Mrs.
Gearson’s accusation, that women and ladies “think [the soldiers will] come marching back, in some way, simply as gay as they went, or if it’s an empty sleeve, or even an empty pantaloon, it’s all the more magnificence, and they’re so much the prouder of them, poor things!” she has been understood (“Editha” par. 118). These three pieces look into the theme of gender inequality which, during the time these pieces were composed, was being questioned and altered through the Women’s Motion.
These pieces supply three different views of gender dispute: other half versus the superior spouse in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” child versus daddy and later partner versus spouse in “Daddy,” and guy versus the lady who desires superiority in “Editha.” Works Cited “Daddy by Sylvia Plath.” Internal. org Poets. N. p., n. d. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. “Editha.” William Dean Howells’s Short Story. Readbookonline. net, n. d. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. Furia, Philip. “‘Editha’: The Womanly View.” American Literary Realism, 1870-1910 12. 2 (1979 ): 278-282. JSTOR. Web. 2 Mar. 2013. Gilman, Charlotte P. Gilman, Why I Wrote The Yellow Wallpaper.” The Department of History. The College of Staten Island/CUNY, 08 June 1999. Web. 01 Feb. 2013. Nance, Guinevara A., and Judith P. Jones. “On ‘Daddy'” Modern American Poetry. University of Illinois English Department, n. d. Web. 1 Mar. 2013. “The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.” Electronic Text Center. University of Virginia Library, n. d. Web. 01 Feb. 2013. Treichler, Paula A. “Leaving the Sentence: Medical Diagnosis and Discourse in ‘The Yellow Wallpaper'”Tulsa Research in Women’s Literature. 3. 1/2 (1984 ): 61-77. JSTOR. Web. 01 Feb. 2013.