There is a close link between the life of people and the art of the written word. In fact, many themes and motifs depicted in literature are taken from real life. Thus, the latter is often a subject of literature. Moreover, life can be regarded as a formless and raw material, which the art of the written world transforms into a creative and original form. In literature, the audience can usually find the portrayal of the writer’s experiences of life that he or she transmits in a specific artistic manner. Although the literature is an expression of writer’s attitudes, specifically, individual views on life, it represents the problems of different countries and nations. In this respect, violation of female rights depicted in The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour conveys not only views and attitudes of its authors, but the issue the entire society faces. Therefore, a tight connection between life and literature allows demonstrating vital problems that are important to the overall human experience, specifically the oppression of women’s rights.
Literature can be viewed as a foundation of life. It underlines vital issues of humankind, human tragedies, as well as comedies, provoking people to think. According to Clive Staples Lewis, literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become. Thus, the art of the written word makes the real world brighter because it provides the audience with an opportunity to look through the eyes of others. In this respect, literature can be defined as a looking glass into the thoughts and attitudes of other people. Moreover, literature has a vital role to the readers and the entire world. Indeed, literary works do not only show the audience specific characters, situations, and problems, they provide people with important lessons, which can act as examples for them. Thus, it is the choice of the reader whether to follow them or not. At the same time, literature helps people to build life experiences from both sad and happy stories. Additionally, the art of the written word enables people to develop thinking skills. Therefore, without literature, people risk degrading and declining.
While the literature has a direct connection with life, it is obvious that the former reveals the problems that exist in society. On this subject, violation of female rights, specifical oppression of their desires, as well as deprivation of opportunities, can be regarded as a topical issue. The two shorts stories of Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman together perfectly depict the particular social problem. Although The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour have been written in the 19th century, the issue they portray remains actual. Both literary works discuss gender equality, specifically its lack regarding women of all social classes and positions. Nowadays, violation of female rights continues to exist in many countries all over the world. Politicians, journalists, and activists constantly debate about this social issue. Unfortunately, 200 years passed since Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s stories were presented to the public, but nothing changed.
Although both men and women have equal social, political, religious, and cultural rights, they continue to be at risk of facing oppression, discrimination, and abuse. The law cannot stop violent acts committed against women at home including verbal, sexual, emotional, and physical abuse, marital rape, or even murders. Moreover, oppression of female rights based on gender, race or nationality is also quite a familiar manifestation of aggression towards women of the contemporary world. In this respect, sexuality can be regarded as one of the most common causes of female oppression. In many cases, the abuser is a friend, co-worker or a member of a family. As a result, women undergo not only physical but also a psychological abuse that complicates the process of returning to the real world. At the same time, many women become victims of verbal or physical abuse in public places. In fact, men view themselves physically and mentally stronger comparing to women and think that they can oppress them without a threat of being punished. Furthermore, many women face domestic violence where their husbands do not only oppress their needs and desires but also physically hurt their wives. The reasons for such behavior can be different, including the desire to show male dominance over women, to feel themselves real men or to demonstrate that they occupy a leading role in the house. While men are usually physically stronger than women are, it is not difficult for them to push, beat, or rape a victim. Therefore, gender-based discrimination against women restrains their rights and turns them into victims of their gender.
At the same time, the theme of violation of female rights is very important to the overall human experience. While a global culture of discrimination within society deprives men and women of equal rights, it is critical to change perceptions of current and new generations. Violence against women shows how vulnerable society is and underlines the fact that many reforms should be done in order to neutralize this problem. What is more important, not only the state or government has to make changes, but each person in the world has to change his or her attitudes towards others. If every person educated himself or herself and grew mentally, there would be no discrimination or oppression of human rights. In this respect, literature can be regarded as the best source for self-development and cultivation of worthy personality. Thereby, literary works are an excellent source for people to draw knowledge, life experiences, and lessons.
While literature is the best way to educate oneself, The Yellow Wallpaper and The Story of an Hour are the works to teach the readers an important lesson. The Yellow Wallpaper is a widely known feminist short story that depicts the oppression of women. In her literary work, the author represents the horrors of a rest cure, which has been a popular treatment among the male psychiatrists in the 19th century. In the short story, the protagonist is a nameless woman who has a postpartum depression caused by the birth of a baby. Gilman shows how the particular treatment deprives a woman of her desires, as well as isolates her from the social contacts and normal life. Moreover, the author underlines an important issue prevailing in the society of the 19th century that women have had to obey their husbands in every aspect of their life, bringing them miseries and sufferings. Thus, Gilman portrays the moral and physical suffering of her female character that she has undergone due to the influence of the rest cure.
In The Yellow Wallpaper, the protagonist is a victim of an unequal marriage, where a husband deprives her of rights and wishes. In fact, the man kills her unfulfilled desire for self-expression. Being subjected to the rest cure by the male physician who is also her husband, the female character becomes prey of complete inactivity and isolation from the outer world for a few weeks. The woman is forbidden to read, write, walk in the garden or engage in any other activities. Gilman said, “So I take phosphates or phosphates-whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to work until I am well again. Personally, I disagree with their ideas”. Although the character protests against such oppression of her rights, her thoughts and wishes do not interest her anyone. Being completely isolated from the world, communication, and social interactions, the character begins to sink deeper into her depression.
Moreover, The Yellow Wallpaper expands and complicates the theme of female oppression. Discrimination and violation of the narrator’s inherent rights lead to severe consequences. In this respect, the protagonist starts to lose her touch with the real world. The woman concentrates only on the yellow wallpaper in the room that symbolizes the internal anxiety of the character. When undergoing a particular treatment, the narrator is deprived of reality. As a result, her psychic instability increases. At the same time, Gilman also points at the role of the yellow wallpaper in the story. In fact, it is a manifestation of women’s social and economic dependence. Furthermore, being a creative and highly expressive person, now the character is not allowed to realize her imagination or creativity in any way. The narrator states that with her imaginative power and habit of story-making, a nervous weakness like mine is sure to lead to all manner of excited fancies and that I ought to use my will and good sense to check the tendency. Woman’s talent, as well as reason and feelings, suffer from the oppression imposed by her husband. Therefore, rest cure is a display of oppression and limitation of female values, rights, and ideas.
At the same time, The Story of an Hour also portrays a woman’s sufferings within marriage. The main character of the story, Louise, is deprived of her independence. Similarly to Gilman’s female character, she experiences oppression and prohibitions forced by her husband. When a woman hears about the death of her husband, deep inside she feels relief from his authority. Eventually, the character comprehends that she is now an independent woman. The particular realization excites her because from now she is the only ruler of her life. While Louise’s identity was oppressed by a marriage, the news about Brently’s death freed her from the heavy burden of duties. As ordinary women of the 19th century, Louise and Gilman’s protagonist are required to obey their husbands that can be regarded as a violation of female rights. In this respect, Louise becomes literary free from husband’s power saying “Free! Body and soul free!”.