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Free Yellow Wallpaper Essays: Women’s Subordination

Women’s Subordination in The Yellow Wallpaper

“The Yellow Wallpaper,” written in 1892 by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, is a chilling study of insanity. It is a bitter story of a young woman driven to insanity by a “loving” husband-doctor, who imposes Mitchell’s “rest cure.”1 This short story vividly reflects a woman in torment.

This story starts out with a hysterical woman who is overprotected by her “loving” husband John. She is taken to a summer home to recover from a nervous condition. She is told to rest and sleep; she is not even allowed to write. “I must put this away,–he hates to have me write a word.” This shows how controlling John is over her as both husband and doctor. She is “absolutely forbidden to “work” until” she’s “well again.” Here, John seems to be more of a father than a husband. Like the husband in Ibsen’s A Doll House, John is being the dominant person in the marriage: a sign of typical middle-class.

Although the narrator feels desperate, John tells her that there is “no reason” for how she feels; she must dismiss those “silly fantasies.” In other words, John treats her like a child and gives her reason to doubt herself. “Of course it is only nervousness,” she decides. She tries to rest, to do as she is told, like a child, but suffers because John does not believe that she is ill. This makes her feel inadequate and unsure of her own sanity.

He “does not know how much I really suffer. He knows there is no reason to suffer, and that satisfies him.” She feels that she should be “a good girl” and appreciate the protective love John offers to her. “He takes all care from me, and I feel so basely ungrateful not to value it more. . . . He took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose. . . . He said I was his darling and his comfort and all he had, and that I must take care of myself for his sake, and keep well.” In telling her to keep well, John just expresses more doubt about her having any real illness.

She tries to discuss her feelings, but this brings only a “stern reproachful look” and she goes back to bed. “Really dear you are better,” John says over and over.

Structure in Oedipus Rex

Structure in Oedipus Rex

M. H. Abrams says that “almost all literary theorists since Aristotle have emphasized the importance of structure, conceived in diverse ways, in analyzing a work of literature” (300).

The matter of the structure of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex is a subject of varying interpretation among literary critics, as this essay will reveal.

In “A Great Translator’s Reflections on Oedipus the King,” Gilbert Murray, professor at Oxford University in England, cites structure as one of the reasons why he chose Oedipus Rex as a work of translation:

On the whole, I can only say that the work of translation has made me feel even more strongly than before the extraordinary grip and reality of the dialogue, the deftness of the construction, and . . . the unbroken crescendo of tragedy from the opening to the close (105). . . . But Sophocles worked by blurring his structural outlines just as he blurs the ends of his verses. In him the traditional divisions are all made less distinct, all worked over the direction of greater naturalness. . . .This was a very great gain. . . .(107)

Murray’s appreciation of the “crescendo of tragedy” in Oedipus Rex is echoed in the sentiments of another critic: In Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge, Charles Segal says that the protagonist fares well in the first series of tests, but declines towards his catastrophe in the second series:

The first three tests are, respectively, Oedipus’ meetings with Creon, Teiresias, and then Creon again. In each case he is pursuing the killer as someone whom he assumes is other than himself. . . . The second series begins with Jocasta and continues with the Corinthian messeng…

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…Terms, 7th ed. New York: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1999.

Murray, Gilbert. “A Great Translator’s Reflections on Oedipus the King.” In Readings on Sophocles, edited by Don Nardo. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 1997.

Owen, E. T. “Drama in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus.” In Twentieth Century Interpretations of Oedipus Rex, edited by Michael J. O’Brien. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Segal, Charles. Oedipus Tyrannus: Tragic Heroism and the Limits of Knowledge. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.

Sophocles. Oedipus Rex. Transl. by F. Storr. no pag. new?tag=public

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