The Yellow Wallpaper Questions and Answers
by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The Yellow Wallpaper book cover
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How does new historicism influence Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" and Chopin's "The Story of an Hour"?  

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Yes, we can begin to understand the historical context of "The Story of an Hour" when we recognize what Louise Mallard is feeling, having learned of the supposed death of her husband.  Though she knows that "he had never looked save with love upon her," she rejoices that she is now "free, free, free!"  Louise is not rejoicing in her husband's death; rather, she realizes—now that she is unmarried and independent—that the coming years "would belong to her alone."  Thus, it was not her husband that was the problem, but the institution of marriage in the final years of the nineteenth century.  She joyfully thinks that, in her future, "There would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they have a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature."  Marriage gave her husband the right to bend her will to his and to make legal and social decisions for her. This lack of independence, this repression of her spirit and will, has...

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