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Breaking the Bonds of Oppression in Susan Glaspell’s A Jury of Her Peers

Breaking the Bonds of Oppression in A Jury of Her Peers

Susan Glaspell’s “A Jury of Her Peers” is a view into the lives of farmer’s wives in the Midwest at the turn of the century. These women live in a male dominated world, where the men consider them incompetent and frivolous. The only identity they have is that associated with their husbands. They stay at the farmhouse to complete their repetitive and exhausting chores. The wives have little or no contact with the other people because of the distances between farms. Glaspell uses her female characters to rebel against the inequalities that women face and to prove that women are competent and when pushed too far –strike back. The male dominant society that is condescending, controlling, denies individuality, demands submission, and is abusive toward women, is a society that punishes and deprives itself. It is a society that is harmful and hurtful, not only to the women, but to the men as well.

Typical of the male dominant frame of mind, the men’s view of the women in “A Jury of Her Peers” is condescending from start to finish. Putting a slight twist on Shakespeare’s famous metaphor, “The world is a stage”, the men are the puppeteers, and the women “merely” puppets, evidences the men’s beliefs (Act II, scene 7, lines 143-144). The men believe they are superior and more intelligent than the women are. The feeling of superiority is evident in Mr. Hale’s comment, “women are used to worrying over trifles” (Glaspell 186). Similarly, these feelings of superiority are shown in the county attorney’s musings over whether the women would “know a clue if they came upon it” (Glaspell 187). Glaspell uses this emotion to create the irony in the story. She shows how …

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Oppression of Women in Chopin’s Story of an Hour and Gilman’s Yellow Wallpaper

Oppression of Women in Chopin’s Story of an Hour and Gilman’s Yellow Wallpaper

“The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman share the same view of the subordinate position of women in the late 1800’s. Both stories demonstrate the devastating effects on the mind and body that result from an intelligent person living with and accepting the imposed will of another. This essay will attempt to make their themes apparent by examining a brief summery of their stories and relating them to their personal histories. It will reveal this theme further through analysis of setting, visual and conceptual symbolism, and by exploring the relationships between the characters in each story.

In the “Story of an Hour”, we are told that Louise has a bad heart condition. A friend of the family has discovered that there was a bad accident at her husband?s job and he is on the deceased list. Louise?s sister carefully tells her this distressing news; however, instead of falling apart, Louise finds herself feeling as if she has a new lease on life because she will finally be able to live for herself. Suddenly, her husband walks in the door, and shocked, Louise drops dead of a heart attack. The physician says it was from “a joy that kills” (341-342).

In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the main character is attempting to heal from a nervous disorder. Her physician prescribes the “rest cure” which allows her to do nothing: no housekeeping, no writing, and no visiting with family or friends. She cannot even play with her baby. Her husband insists that she stay in a room upstairs and she eventually goes insane.

Both Chopin and Gilman borrow from real events in their lives when writing these stories. Kat…

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…V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacobs. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc. Simon Schuster/ A Viacom Company, 1998. 542-553.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. “Why I Wrote ?The Yellow Wallpaper?” Ed. Catherine Lavender; The College of Staten Island of the City University of New York, Fall Semester, Oct. 1997. (25 Jan 1999)

McChristie, Pat. “Women Need to Work” Copyright: 1998. Cyberwoman (30 Jan 1999)

Wyatt, Neal “Biography of Kate Chopin” English 384: Women Writers. Ed. Ann M. Woodlief Copyright: 1998, Virginia Commonwealth University. (26 Jan. 1999)

“Why are Women Leaving Marriage in Droves?” Marriage. Copyright: 1998. Cyberwoman (30 Jan 1999)

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