Discuss the role of women in the short stories "Cat in the Rain" and "The Yellow Wallpaper."

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In both "The Yellow Wallpaper " and "Cat in the Rain," the role of women is to be patronized, neglected, and ignored. Both women are lonely and unhappy, a state of affairs which, in each case, is at least partly the fault of an unimaginative or uncaring husband. In...

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In both "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "Cat in the Rain," the role of women is to be patronized, neglected, and ignored. Both women are lonely and unhappy, a state of affairs which, in each case, is at least partly the fault of an unimaginative or uncaring husband. In "The Yellow Wallpaper," the narrator's husband, John, is apparently well-intentioned but does not listen to her or treat her as a rational being. He is a physician and assumes that he knows more about his wife's health and state of mind than she does herself. Her brother, also a physician, adopts the same stance. Revealingly, the narrator says:

John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage.

The result of John's dismissive attitude to his wife's emotional pain is that she actually becomes more irrational by the end of the story than he perceives her to be at the beginning.

"Cat in the Rain" describes a less extreme situation, but still one in which the husband fails to consider his wife's feelings. As in "The Yellow Wallpaper," the young couple are in an unfamiliar environment, this time the only two Americans in an Italian hotel. The young wife is obviously pining for a more stable situation in a permanent home. Her maternal concern for the cat suggests that she may also want children. When she expresses her desires, her husband tells her to shut up and get something to read. She is less isolated than the woman in "The Yellow Wallpaper," since at least the hotel owner listens to her and cares about what she wants. In the thirty-three years between the publication of the two stories, the position of women had improved considerably, meaning that the woman in "Cat in the Rain" is frustrated, but not driven to insanity, though she is still not accorded the dignity of a name, as John and George both are.

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