Are there similarities between the short stories "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "The Story of an Hour?"

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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"The Yellow Wallpaper" is an 1892 short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman about a woman's postpartum depression and her response to her husband's ministrations.

"The Story of an Hour" is an 1894 short story by Kate Chopin about a woman who discovers that her husband has died, and her reaction to that news and the later news that he is alive after all.

The most significant similarity between the stories is the subjugation of woman to man. Both female protagonists are dominated by their husbands, although in different ways: Gilman's narrator is suffering from depression, and her husband, a doctor, is convinced that she needs to be isolated for her health; Chopin's protagonist is simply overwhelmed by her husband, who is unaware.

In both stories, the notion of freedom from the marriage is a greatly freeing concept for the women, who have never considered that they have options other than passive acceptance. In both stories, the protagonists deal with dominance in ways that leave them ultimately free; Gilman's narrator goes insane in the face of captivity, freeing her in her mind, while Chopin's protagonist dies upon learning that her husband is in fact alive, freeing her from his influence. Both women feel that they have no other recourse, and they are informed by the norms of the time as well as by their own doubts.

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