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Influence of Emerson’s Self-Reliance on Gilman’s Yellow Wall-Paper

Influence of Emerson’s Self-Reliance on Gilman’s Yellow Wall-Paper

The great writer Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string” (p. 1033). How surprised he would be to find out that a half century later this type of idea would culminate in a growing restlessness among American women unsatisfied with their lives and with their roles in society – a society dominated by men with little or no place for women outside the home. One of these female writers who helped lead the battle for domestic and social reform was Charlotte Perkins Gilman. One of her more particularly forceful works is “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” meant to highlight the submissive and highly undervalued role women play in marriages at the time. Through this work, Gilman expressed her inner frustrations with the servitude women had to endure in their marriages during that time period, and she advocated her own brand of Emersonian non-conformity for women. By taking such a profoundly dismal outlook on married life, Gilman hoped to inspire other women to seek new roles not only in the domestic, but also public, arena. “The Yellow Wall-Paper” represents to a large degree what the feminist movement of the late 19th century was about, and by analyzing both the story and context of its creation, it becomes apparent the type of interpretation Gilman made of Emerson’s work “Self-Reliance.”

Although “The Yellow Wall-Paper” focuses on a wife’s sudden decline into madness, the story brings forth a very important issue – that of women’s roles not only in domestic life, but in society as well. It becomes abundantly apparent even from the first few lines of the story that the wife’s views concern her place in the marr…

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…” written nearly half a century earlier, but wished to apply it to women in order to achieve a similar greatness through liberation. Evidently, both authors have achieved their goals and have become literary founders of a new American image created during the 19th century, but transcending the boundaries of time even today.

Works Cited and Consulted

Boller, Paul. American Transcendentalism. New York: Capricorn Books, 1974.

Emerson, Ralph. Self-Reliance. Ed. George McMichael. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1985.

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper. New York: Feminist Press, 1973.

——. The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: An Autobiography. New York: D. Appleton-Century, 1935.

Kasmer, Lisa. “Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’: A Symptomatic Reading.” Literature and Psychology. 36, (1990): 1-15.

The Tragedy of Human Nature in Shakespeare’s Othello

The Tragedy of Human Nature in Othello

In the tragedy Othello, Shakespeare creates a mood that challenges the way a person sees his or her self and the world. Subjects like racism, sexism, love, hate, jealously, pride, and trickery are thoroughly developed in the play of Othello to enable the audience to view the characters and also themselves. The Shakespearean tragedy of Othello was written in a time of great racial tensions in England. According to Eldred Jones, in 1600 just three years before Othello was written, Queen Elizabeth proclaimed an Edict for the Transportation of all “negars and blackmoores” out of the country (“Othello- An Interpretation” Critical Essays 39). It is in this atmosphere that Shakespeare began the masterpiece of Othello, a drama about a noble black Arab general, Othello, who falls in love with and marries, Desdemona, a young white daughter of a senator. From the above knowledge one may conclude that Shakespeare wrote Othello to express that all people, of all ethnicity, are basically the same in human nature. Shakespeare borrowed the idea of Othello from an Italian love story by Giraldi Cinthio. However, Shakespeare focuses more on the differences in color and age between Othello and Desdemona than Cinthio. Shakespeare does this to escalate Othello’s isolation from the rest of Venetian society and to display Othello’s vulnerability due to his color. In the tragedy not only is Othello susceptible to weaknesses but so is every major character . The tragedy reminds humans that even one’s good nature can be taken advantage of for the worse. The drama Othello expresses, through relationships and emotional attitudes, a theme that all humans are vulnerable to destruction even if they are in positions of power and glory.

All the relationships in the play are used to demonstrate the vulnerability of people when involved personally with other people. Each of the relationships in Othello portrays insecurities in each person, except Iago. In fact, all of the relationships with one character, Iago, are focused around him and his devilish plot for the demise of Othello. However, most of the relationships in Othello bring about unintentional frustrations and vulnerabilities. The marriages in Othello are the most important relationships in conferring vulnerability because they bring out the best hopes and attitudes, and the worst fears and emotions in each character.

Shakespeare, in designing Othello’s marriage to Desdemona, shows that although one can truly love a person, the need for human control can destroy any relationship causing heartbreak and turmoil.

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