What similarities do the women in "Story of an Hour" and The "Yellow Wallpaper" have in common?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Both of these women are repressed in their marriages; the narrator in "The Yellow Wallpaper" is micro-managed by a well-meaning but overbearing husband.  He treats her like a child who is incapable of making decisions on her own; he disregards any opinions that she expresses; he makes fun of her whims and makes her feel guilty for any expression of unhappiness or complaint.  Louise Mallard's husband in "The Story of an Hour" doesn't seem to be so bad, although there is a hint that he had exercised authority over her; Louise thinks after his death that "there would be no powerful will bending hers in that blind persistence with which men and women believe they ahve a right to impose a private will upon a fellow-creature."  So, she did feel oppressed by him; Chopin even describes her as having a face "whose lines bespoke repression."

So, both women are repressed in their marriages, and not happy; however, they don't want to face up to their unhappiness.  The narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper" constantly makes excuses for her husband, chastises herself for not being happier, and makes resolutions to "do better".  Louise Mallard fights of the happiness after her husband's death:  "She was beginning to recognize this thing that was approaching to possess her, and she was striving to beat it back with her will."  She tries to fight off the realization that she will be much happier without her husband.

Both women are also afflicted; Louise with heart troubles, and the narrator of "The Yellow Wallpaper" with a "slight hysterical tendency" and nervousness, that eventually spirals out of control.  Both women are overwhelmed by their afflictions in the end, either through death or by mental incapability.  Both women also demonstrate the sad reality of unhappiness in marriage, and the impact that it can have in one's life-a rather taboo subject of the day and age.

I hope that helps!

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The Story of an Hour

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