Compare and/or contrast "A Rose for Emily" and "The Yellow Wallpaper" and make an argument about the relationship between physical confinement and psychological confinement.
Perhaps, William Faulkner’s short story A Rose for Emily most appropriately documents the symbol of physical confinement and mental confinement. A Rose for Emily is a short story about an old lady who goes with the name Emily dueling in the town of Jefferson, a fictional location in the Southern United States. The story is heavily influenced with the typical Faulkner’s style of “streaming consciousness.” The story has a deep and coherent depiction of the failures of the moral system and the decay of the society as well as the lack of progressiveness on issues related with women. Similar in nature and themes is Charlotte Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. In the The Yellow Wallpaper, Gilman explores the life of a fictional women confined in a marriage where she has unfulfilled desire for self-expression and suppressed freedom of movement.
A Rose for Emily, has an element of timelessness that makes it comparable to the lifestyles of today despite its age (Du Fang, 2007). The story opens after the death of Emily. The third omniscient narrator, who lives in the town and is capable of telling us all the elements of the story including Emily’s lifestyle, family, and love-life, we are told the struggles of Emily and the possible cause of her death. The struggle of Emily in pursuit of pleasure is indicative of the societal struggle of acceptance and the reality that money and class influences human behavior in tremendous ways. Emily’s life is synonymous with the life of Jefferson City. Emily’s street that was once considered the best of the town has now deteriorated to become one of the dworst in the town. During Emily’s youthful ages, her family was respected and known by everyone in the city. However, as she grew older, her family lost respect. The town people see her as old school and incapable of adjusting the modernity of life. All the s respect that her father earned does not seem to affect the way she lives and her status in the society.
Like Emily, the Yellow Paper is a tragic and melancholic story of women denied freedom and subjected to mental destruction. The woman in the story is subordinated by a highly male dominated society that locks her progress both physically and psychologically. While the male members of the society can mean well, the lack of involvement of women in their own life can be daunting and harmful nonetheless. In Rose for Emily, the fictional city Jefferson City represents Emily’s lack of geographical mobility that is similar to Yellow wall paper in Yellow Wallpaper. Both symbols are the representation of men’s dominance in women’s life and its effect on the welfare and esteem of the women involved.
In conclusion, one can argue that the most interesting aspect of the two stories is the presentation of male characters in a manner that personifies and humanizes them. Both Gilman and Faulkner’s provide a contrast between men and women, not by anything else but by presenting the male chauvinistic mentally in the old western world. In the two stories, many of the male characters have failures. A good number of make characters in the two stories have faults, a good number also have outstanding moral courage. While the two writers use some of the main characters in the novel to illustrate the difference between women and men, they also focus on the central female characters to demonstrate the strength of character that is absent in some of the male characters. Gilman writes, “here are things in that paper which nobody knows but me, or ever will. Behind that outside pattern the dim shapes get clearer every day. It is always the same shape, only very numerous.” John refuses to take his wife out of the hospital even though she hates it. Emily is also falls in the same category because her father refuses to allow her to marry the man of her choice.