A Comparison and Contrast of the Yellow Wallpaper and A Rose for Emily

In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the relationship between an oppressive husband and his submissive wife pushes the protagonist from depression into insanity. “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner is the story about a young woman who is overwhelmingly influenced by her father, and she begins to deteriorate mentally after his death. Both stories have many similarities and differences. The two stories are about how society can influence the decay of one’s mental state. Both of these stories use a great deal of symbolism and imagery and have an ironic ending.

The woman in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” who is named Jane, speaks of her depression and how it is casually dismissed by her husband and brother who are both physicians. Her depression really begins to accelerate after the birth of her child, so her husband decides to place their baby in the care of another until Jane recovers.

Her husband takes her to an old house in the country and puts her in a room with dingy old yellow wallpaper that has begun to fall off the walls. Jane asks her husband to replace or remove the wallpaper, but he refuses. The yellow wallpaper begins to take on a role of its own. Jane’s husband, John, does not allow her to leave the house and have very few visitors. John is normally away at night, working in the city. Jane begins her obsession with the yellow wallpaper almost the instant that she is put in the room, but as the story progresses, her obsession leads to an aggressive mental deterioration. She begins to see “a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure that seems to skulk about behind that silly and conspicuous front design.” (page # ) She describes her illness as “not arranged on any laws of radiation, or alteration, or repetition, or symmetry, or anything else that I ever heard of.”

Jane begins to see a woman’s figure in the wallpaper. The woman “is all the time trying to climb through.” This could be interpreted as how Jane actually sees herself (as trying to climb through). The nursery at the house contains windows “barred for children,” (page # ) which can represent the suppression of Jane’s motherly duties. John does not wish for Jane to have any creative stimulus so he forbids her from writing, which she does anyway. Jane’s writing actually is probably what keeps her from going insane sooner. The yellow wallpaper hinders Jane’s recovery in that it confuses her as she attempts to uncover its meaning.

In “A Rose for Emily,” the author, William Faulkner uses the house in which the story takes place as a symbol of Emily Grierson’s own physical and mental deterioration. The Grierson house is at first described as “white, decorated with cupolas and spires and scrolled balconies in the heavily lightsome style of the seventies.” (page # The description implies that the house has not only been constructed that way for functionality but also to impress the townspeople. Emily’s father uses this display of extravagance to give an impression of wealth to onlookers. After Mr. Grierson’s death, Ms. Emily’s mental state begins to decline, as the house’s appearance declines as well. Ms. Emily’s highly regarded reputation also takes a fall when she begins making appearances through the town with Homer Barron, a Yankee.

After Homer leaves the town and Emily, she could not bare the humiliation and embarrassment and she begins her spiral into self-inflicted solitude and mental anguish. The townspeople do not want to accept that she is in an awful mental state, and they reject any negative thoughts toward her. Mrs. Emily continues to present and assert herself as an affluent member of society by refusing to pay her taxes. When officials were sent to her home to collect taxes, she reminded them of the time when the departed mayor, Colonel Sartoris “remitted her taxes.” Ms. Emily’s dwindling mental state comes to an end when she dies and the townspeople to go into her once beautiful but now dilapidated home, where they make the gruesome discovery they imagined all along. The two stories end with an element of irony.

In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Jane’s husband takes her to the country thereby isolating her of any worries and stresses. John thinks that by doing this, Jane will get better so she can go home and take care of her child, not to mention her husband. Throughout the story, it is obvious that Jane is regressing, instead of improving, but John chooses to ignore that fact and continue “treatment” in the same manner. By the end of the story, John faints after he realizes that his wife’s complete insanity has gone to the point of no return, and he could have probably stopped it from happening.

In “A Rose for Emily,” the story opens with the sense that Emily will remain successful, affluent, and well respected throughout the course of her life. However, the death of her father leaves Emily very lonely and disturbed. The town begins to see the house as an “eyesore among The town goes into the Grierson house to help out. That is when it is discovered that Emily Grierson murdered Homer Barron, probably with the arsenic she bought, and kept his lifeless body in her house for all these years. In “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Jane rapidly progresses from a depressed mental state insanity. In “A Rose for Emily,” the protagonist also eventually goes insane, but that is more of a self inflicted mental deterioration. Both of these stories use a great amount of symbolism and imagery to compete the story, and they both end with a great deal of irony.

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