Classics English Literature






The Story of an Hour and The Yellow Wallpaper

        The “Story of an Hour” is about a man who is said to be dead but he is mistaken. His wife hears about the news and she is delighted because she will be free. Before the hour is over, the husband comes home and the woman is shocked to death. It is believed that she dies due to sadness because she will not be free as she wished. Medics also said that she died because she was so happy to see the husband alive and well.

The narrative of “The Yellow Wallpaper” talks of a man called John who goes on holiday with his wife. He thinks that the wife has neurasthenia and he takes her to a room where she is to rest and not even write anything. All she does is stare at the wallpaper and try to analyze it. When she is almost through with the therapy, she is able to decode the message of a woman behind bars. It enlightens her and upraises her (Chopin, 2000).

“The Story of an Hour” and “The Yellow Wallpaper” has two women characters with similarities. In the past centuries, women had an inferior role in the society. Both women have had hard times in the societies they lived in. For example, in “The Story of an Hour” Louise is happy because of the death of her husband because she knew she would be free from oppression but she dies due to sadness when she realizes that the husband is not actually dead. In the “Yellow Paper” story, John forbids his wife from her creativity and writing hobby in the name of being in a therapy of treating her. The wife goes ahead trying to decode what is on the yellow paper, since she cannot write.

Both stories reveal that the women have been subjected to domestic spheres. They have been restricted from exploring far places because it is believed that women should only be within the domestic environment. For example, in the “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the woman in the wallpaper is in an environment of a feminine domestic sphere also, John’s wife is subjected in a prison-like nursery (Dickens, 1997). The nursery is a symbol of oppression and a reminder to John’s wife about her house chores. Louise is also happy when her husband dies because she will be free and will not have to be within the domestic environment always.

Both women in the two stories reveal a character of submission because they have been staying in marriages that have been so oppressive such that they both develop medical conditions (Pearson publishing, 2000). Louise is said to develop the heart condition from the stress of living in a marriage that is male-dominated. John’s wife is said to suffer from neurasthenia, a condition of getting hysterical. This is because of the suppression from the husband who does not want her to exercise her talent of creativity.

There are also differences in these two female characters. John’s wife, who features in the “The Yellow Wallpaper”, tries to show a characteristic of creativity (Gilmans and Taylor, 1994). This is when she decides to decode the meaning of the picture on the wallpaper since she was prevented from writing, which is her hobby. Louise, who is in “The Story of an Hour’, shows no way of creativity that would enable her untangle herself from the oppressive marriage. In addition, she even dies on hearing that the husband did not die.

John’s wife makes an attempt of improving herself from the entangled environment. This is shown from the symbol of creeping from her hallucination about the woman in the wallpaper who in the nursery where she is kept for treatment. On the other hand, Louise makes no efforts of trying to uplift her lifestyle. In fact, she gets so shocked and sad when she realizes her husband is not dead. The two stories depict how women in the past centuries were oppressed hence they ended up suffering depression and other heart and mental disorders. Today women have taken up better roles in the society and equality has been practiced.


The two are short stories that depict relationships between spouses in the earlier centuries. They could also be reflecting some marriages in the current century. In the story of “The Yellow Wallpaper”, there seems to be a conflict of interest and a problem of communication between John and his wife. Similarly in “The Story of an Hour”, Louise seems to be unhappily married which is shown when she becomes excited after her husband is said to be dead because she will be free (Chopin, 2000). This vividly shows that she dreads her marriage and she is not happy about how her husband treats her. On the other hand, John’s wife is unable to express to her husband what she wants because her husband is really insisting that she is unwell and she needs to be treated. According to his wife, she does not consider herself ill but all she needs is some change and excitement (Gilman, 1999). John is a doctor whose line of thinking is medical but his wife is creative and imaginative. Therefore, it creates conflict because John subjects his wife to a treatment that makes her consider it as being in a prison. The marriages in the two stories would only work if there were proper communication between the spouses.




Works Cited

Chopin Cate. The Story of an Hour Tale Blazers. Logan, IA: Perfection Learning, 2000. Print.

Dickens Charles. Hard Times: For These Times. Hudson Street, New York: Signet Classic, 1997. Print.

Gilman Charlotte Perkins. The Yellow Wallpaper 5th Avenue, New York: Orchises Press, 1990. Print.

Gilmans Charlotte Perkins and Black Alexander. The Yellow Wallpaper and Other Written Stories. Pittburgh, PA: Modern Library, 2000. Print.

Gilman Charlotte Perkins and Taylor Chucks. The YellowWallpaper -The Wallpaper Replies. Windsor, UK: Slough Press, 1994. Print. 

Pearson Custom Publishing. The Mercury Reader: Chicago, IL: A Custom Publication, 2000. Print.

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