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A Feminist in Action in The Yellow Wallpaper

“The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, depicts a woman in isolation, struggling to cope with mental illness, which has been diagnosed by her husband, a physician. Going beyond this surface level, the reader sees the narrator as a developing feminist, struggling with the societal values of the time. As a woman writer in the late nineteenth century, Gilman herself felt the adverse effects of the male-centric society, and consequently, placed many allusions to her own personal struggles as a feminist in her writing. Throughout the story, the narrator undergoes a psychological journey that correlates with the advancement of her mental condition. The restrictions which society places on her as a woman have a worsening effect on her until illness progresses into hysteria. The narrator makes comments and observations that demonstrate her will to overcome the oppression of the male dominant society. The conflict between her views and those of the society can be seen in the way she interacts physically, mentally, and emotionally with the three most prominent aspects of her life: her husband, John, the yellow wallpaper in her room, and her illness, “temporary nervous depression.” In the end, her illness becomes a method of coping with the injustices forced upon her as a woman. As the reader delves into the narrative, a progression can be seen from the normality the narrator displays early in the passage, to the insanity she demonstrates near the conclusion.

As the story begins, the narrator’s compliance with her role as a submissive woman is easily seen. She states, “John laughs at me, but one expects that in marriage” (Gilman 577). These words clearly illustrate the male’s position of power in a marriage t…

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…, Gilman acknowledges the fact that much work is needed to overcome the years of injustice. Through the concluding scenes where the narrator goes into her mental illness rebellion, Gilman encourages women to do what they can to stand up for themselves.

Works Cited

Mahin, Michael J. The Awakening and The Yellow Wallpaper: “An Intertextual Comparison of the “Conventional” Connotations of Marriage and Propriety.” Domestic Goddesses (1999). Web. 29 June 2015.

Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar. “A Feminist Reading of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’.” The Story and Its Writer. Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2011. Print.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Web. 27 June 2015.

Confronting Death in Richard Wilbur’s The Pardon

Confronting Death in Richard Wilbur’s The Pardon

Death is the issue at the heart of Richard Wilbur’s poem “The Pardon.” This is apparent from the opening line, “My dog lay dead five days without a grave.” What is not immediately apparent, however, is that this is not simply a poem about a young boy’s sadness over the loss of his dog. What Wilbur discusses in this piece is much more profound, cutting through the superficialities of death and confronting fears and doubts that all of us experience at different points in our lives. This is a poem about atonement, about facing the mistakes of the past and confronting them directly. More specifically, it is about reconciling ourselves with death and everything that life’s deepest tragedies entail. The adult narrator of the poem is haunted by his past, unable to cope with feelings and emotions that he had as a youth. He even seems to have attempted to repress a portion of his life. However, as a result of a chillingly realistic dream, he is at last forced to face what he thought was buried for good. The realization that comes because of this, the realization that death is not something to run from, is the true meaning of the poem and the crux of what Wilbur is trying to say to the reader.

“The Pardon” can be divided into three distinct parts. The first sub-section is made up of stanzas one and two, which detail a tragic event that occurred in the life of the narrator when he was ten years old: the death of his dog. It is in these first eight lines that the narrator tries to give the reader an understanding of what he felt when this happened. He uses very descriptive words and phrases, providing vivid imagery of the various sights, smells, and sounds that he experienced. H…

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…ightful look into death and the fears and doubts that it induces within all of us. The narrator of the poem is a man who has never been able to confront death, beginning with the loss of his dog at the age of ten. He has chosen to avoid it his entire life, rather than attempting to understand it. It is finally as an adult that a vivid dream causes him to finally face his fears: he sees his dog rising out of its grave and begins to ask it for forgiveness. The dog in the dream can be seen as a representation of his trepidation. Once he is able to confront it and ask for its pardon, he can finally begin to cope with the idea of death.

Works Cited

Jarrell, Randall. “Fifty Years of American Poetry.” The Third Book of Criticism. NY: Farrar, Straus

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