Compare and Contrast the Ways in Which the Theme of Entrapment Is Presented in ‘the Awakening’ and ‘the Yellow Wallpaper.’ How Relevant Is This Theme to the Writers’ Concerns at the End of the Nineteenth Century?

Compare and contrast the ways in which the theme of entrapment is presented in ‘The Awakening’ and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper.’ How relevant is this theme to the writers’ concerns at the end of the nineteenth century?

‘The Awakening’ by Kate Chopin and ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ by Charlotte Perkins Gilman both explore the entrapment of women at the end of the nineteenth century. Both stories describe a struggle for freedom of two women who are living under patriarchal rule and aren’t allowed to be themselves because of society at the time.

In the Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator is suffering from post natal depression. However her husband, John, and her brother who are both physicians, don’t believe that she is ill, infact John describes her as having a “temporary nervous depression – a slight hysterical tendency.” The term ‘hysteria’ originally was coined by Sigmund Freud, he explained it as an ‘intense, unconscious memory being converted into a physical symptom such as paralysis or blindness.’ These hysterical symptoms would have resulted from a repressed painful memory for example, a traumatic event or a psychological conflict, such as unwelcome sexual thoughts. However in this novel, the narrator is actually suffering from post partum depression after giving birth to her son. The narrator is forced to take the ‘rest cure,’ which included being banned from reading and writing, isolation from family and friends and being confined to a bed for several weeks. In the spring of 1887, Charlotte Perkins Gilman herself had to take the rest cure, which was developed and administered by Dr.Silas Weir Mitchell after the birth of her daughter.   She was told to ‘live as domestic life as possible’ and ‘never to touch a pen or pencil again’ for as long as she lived. Gilman obeyed these directions for three months, however by doing this she ‘came so near the borderline of utter mental ruin’ that she decided to ignore Dr. Weir Mitchell’s advice and went back to normal life when she...