Identity In The Birthmark And The Yellow Wallpaper

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Madness and identity are the two themes that we have been focusing on during the semester when reading various texts. These two themes of madness and identity are connected in multiple ways, due to the fact in one affecting the other. Madness can best be described as when someone thoughts or actions are considered “insane” or “crazy”. Identity can best be described as who one is as a person also known as individuality. When one has an internal struggle with themselves concerning either one of these themes that we have been focusing on, the opposing theme is most likely going to set in soon. In “The Birthmark” and “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the themes of madness and identity are present throughout both texts. What truly causes these struggles are…show more content…
The time and setting of the stories along with gender roles plays a large role in the plots of the story. Both stories take place before the late 20th century, when women’s rights became a huge topic amongst people around the world. When looking at Georgianna in “The Birthmark”, she clearly is submissive to her husband Aylmer. She allowed Aylmer to put her life at risk even though Georgianna didn’t have any problem with the birthmark on her cheek. When dissecting the narrator in “The Yellow Wallpaper”, she admits that her husband is controlling and clearly states her dislike of his actions, but doesn’t do anything about it. Why do both women let their husband tell them what to do, no matter what negative effects will be a product of the decision that their husband made? A big part of their submissiveness has to do with gender roles during the time that the stories were written. All women before the late 20th century were expected to be submissive to their husband no matter what. They were asked to do things with their husband’s best interest in mind. The tasks the husbands asked of the women can be compared to that of slavery. “Daily life for women in the early 1800s in Britain was that of many obligations and few choices. Some even compare the conditions of women in this time to a form of slavery” (Smith). Women weren’t given much of a…show more content…
In “The Birthmark”, Georgianna is pushed to her mental limits when trying to satisfy her perfectionist of a husband, Aylmer. In “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the narrator is driven to the edge of madness, by her also submitting to the wants of her husband. What do these two characters have in common? Both characters were pushed to madness, which developed over time. Madness was a common conception amongst women before the 20th century. “As guardian of the home and family, women were believed to be more emotional, dependent, and gentle by nature. This perception of femininity led to the popular conclusion that women were more susceptible to disease and illness, and was a basis for the diagnosis of insanity in many female patients during the 19th century.” (The Hysterical Female). Women were seen as the guardian of the home and the family. They were the rock that the family leaned on for guidance and support. As a product of these duties, women were more susceptible to more stress and other mental strains. Even though there is no scientific data to back up the thought that women were more emotional, dependent, and gentle, most men thought that women were more likely to develop mental illnesses and diseases. A common diagnosis that is seen amongst women during the 14th-19th century was the disease known as hysteria. “On the basis of Victorian
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