What is a good thesis statement for comparing and contrasing insanity between "A Rose for Emily" and "The Yellow Wallpaper?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In composing the thesis for an essay, especially a comparison/contrast one, the writer will want to peruse the outline she has made of similarities and differences and then generalize them into three points.

Perhaps, the best approach is to make the thesis, or general statement, reflect the causes of the insanity caused by the creation of fantasy in the two female characters' minds. With regard to both Emily of "A Rose for Emily" and the unnamed narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper," the oppressive environments are certainly contributors to the mental imbalance of the women. For instance, Faulkner's narrator's initial comment about Emily suggests that she has not come from a normal environment since after her father's death, she became for the townspeople "a fallen monument,....a tradition, a duty, and a care...." The narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" also is confined in her life in an unnatural environment: "colonial mansion, a hereditary estate,....a haunted house" where she, too, becomes a "care."

Likewise, their responses to these environments result from the repression that they suffer. This, then, is the unifying factor of the two stories although the reactions and mental deterioration of the two protagonists differs, of course.

So, in examining some of the other responses to questions you have asked on these two stories, here is an example of a thesis that may suit your comparison/contrast essay:

Oppressed under patriarchy, the protagonists of "A Rose for Emily" and "The Yellow Wallpaper" lose realistic perspective as their desires are repressed and they react in irrational ways that result in their own descent into insanity.

With the three points made in this thesis--environment of repressed desires, irrational responses and imaginings, and losing sanity--comparisons and contrasts can be made between the two different protagonists of Faulkner's and Gilman's stories.

carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

“A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman provide interesting protagonists.  The problems that these women face are both similar but also quite different. 

  • One approach to the essay might evaluate the emotional support or lack of it given the characters. 
  •  The characters themselves present two similar problems with different outcomes. 
  • The breakdowns of the characters in these stories were caused by loneliness, lack of support, and obsession.
  •  The obsession of both characters creates a setting for their downward spirals into emotional instability.
  • The people who knew and loved these women failed them in their treatment for their problems.
  •  Isolation brings both women to a point of no return.

These are ideas to consider when deciding exactly what the thesis will be. 

Probably the easiest one to use would be this statement:

Loneliness, isolation, and lack of attention forced the protagonists in these stories to sink into psychosis. 

This quotation supports the lack of attention paid to the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

John is away all day, and even some nights when his cases are serious.

I am glad that my case is not serious!

But these nervous troubles are dreadful depressing.

John does not know how much I suffer, and that satisfies him.

Of course, it is only nervousness. It does weigh on me so not to do my duty in any way!

The thesis concerning insanity has to approach the essay from what, why, and who. 

Read the study guide:
The Yellow Wallpaper

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