Victims of Male Dominance in a Rose

9 September 2016

The trails and tribulations of life can cause a person to go down a road they could have never imagined. Some people are able to rise above the issues that come their way and while others become consumed by their problems. In a male dominated society, the issues of women are often pushed to the side and they are left to deal with them alone. Therefore, some women become abused by their thoughts and problems due to the fact that they do not have the ability to tackle them alone.

It becomes an internal and external battle for the scorned woman to please herself, husband (or father) and the society at the same time. In the short stories, “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner and “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gillman, readers become aquatinted with two women from different walks of life that become victims of their circumstances and develop undiagnosed mental illnesses due to male dominance, leading to their unfortunate downfall. Both of these female main characters appear to want to love the men that held the most power in their lives, but couldn’t fight the weight of this male dominance.

Victims of Male Dominance in a Rose Essay Example

In a desperate attempt to balance their feelings of love and hate for these significant men, their apparent failure causes an undeniable breakdown. In William Faulkner’s, “A Rose For Emily”, family meant everything to Emily. Nobody was more important in Emily’s life than her father. Coming from a prominent and wealthy family from the South, Emily’s family was glorified in her neighborhood. From an early age, Emily had been pressured to uphold the “hereditary obligation” (p. 391) of her aristocratic family name. For many young women, their father is the first man they love.

Therefore, his opinions and views is what counts the most to them. If your father doesn’t like a person, then his daughter should feel the same way; it was that simple. Girls want to believe that their father always has their best interest at heart, which cause them to give him full control over their lives. Isolation and restriction from social activities leave these girls yearning for some sort companionship outside of their fathers.

Therefore, woman began to lose their individual identity and began to live in order to please their fathers. Certain traditions and values are instilled by their athers and even if girls don’t agree, they are forced upon them. No man was good enough for Emily in the eyes of her father, which is why she never married. For Emily, her father’s way of life was the only life that she knew. Readers never see a direct interaction between Emily and her father, however his dominance becomes clear as Emily’s “slender figure in white in the background, her father a spraddled silhouette in the foreground” (p. 393). This image of an overbearing man with a whip in his hand standing over a pure young woman is the best description of their relationship.

Unfortunately, when her father passed away Emily did not know how to live life alone as a woman without his guidance, or dominance for lack of a better word. Despite her father’s apparent oppressiveness, there is a clear decline in Emily’s behavior following his death. With modern times arising and things changing around Emily, she remained the same. She still viewed herself as high society heiress who should be esteemed by the townspeople. Thus, “Poor Emily’s” inability to feel or evoke emotion took control of her mind, body and soul.

Emily was now dark and physically “she looked bloated, like a body long submerged in motionless water” (p. 392). Nothing could bring her to terms with her father’s death, going as far as leaving his corpse in their home until it was dragged out by the townspeople. She was damaged goods forever. When women depend on men for everything, they see no future in their own lives once they are gone. It became apparent to readers that Emily had no clue what it meant to be independent. Even the simple idea that her black slave did every little thing she needed.

Emily went on to seek companionship and used Homer as bait to fill the void of her father’s death. She knew Homer was homosexual and still flaunted him throughout town like an accessory in trying to convince both herself and the townspeople she could move on from her father’s death. However, her relationship may have got into deep with Homer and she had to kill him to make sure he didn’t leave her side as her father did. After Emily kills Homer, “a window that has been dark was lightened and Miss Emily sat in it, the light behind her” (p. 395).

This image shows Emily has now become her father in a way and took dominance in her life by murdering someone else, which causes an internal self satisfaction. She keeps the corpse of Homer almost as the resemblance of a trophy for her work. Emily was wealthy woman who appeared to have it all however, she never accomplished close to anything in her life except for taking the life of Homer. The lost of her father signified the lost of herself, in an attempt to find herself emerged a dark character who became mentally and physically consumed by her pain that she was left to fight alone.

In Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s, “The Yellow Wallpaper”, the narrator immediately reveals the strain in her relationship with her husband. She describes her husband John as having “no patience with faith, an intense horror of superstition, and scoffs openly at any talk of things not to be felt and seen and put down in figures” (p. 355). When women typically describe the man they marry there is sort of an admiration within their description, even in the parts about their husband they don’t really like. However, for the narrator her description is that more of a controlling father rather then that of a husband.

John’s behavior appears he isn’t suitable to be in a marriage, however the narrator took the vow of marriage serious and wasn’t willing to leave John’s side. Outside of the fact she wasn’t willing to leave, she couldn’t leave, her life was dependent upon John. The narrator has a immature personality, therefore she does not see much fault in her husband’s neglect and oppression. The fact that John is a physician is the primary reason why she holds his word to such high esteem because there is a stigma of doctors knowing everything.

In addition, the narrator’s brother was also a physician who also adds the oppression of her by male dominance. The narrator’s inability to stand against her male dominated life becomes more unfortunate when she reveals she copes with her feelings through drugs and strict scheduling of how she lives daily. She evokes a sense of guiltiness because she felt she wasn’t able to please John. She “sometimes fancied that in [her] condition if [she] had less opposition and more society and stimulus–but John said the very worst thing [she] can do is to think about my condition, and confesses it always makes [her] feel bad” (p. 55). Her notion that she wouldn’t question any of John’s method proves she has no mind of her own.

The narrator’s depression of being confined to the same room causes her to become more obsessed with the yellow wallpaper that covers the room. She is unable to accept or simply clueless to her hate for her husband, which causes her mind to become smothered by this hate. She begins to see women behind bars on the yellow wallpaper “all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern — it strangles so; I think that is why it has so many heads” (p. 63). Therefore the pattern on the yellow wallpaper presents a symbol of the caged life of the narrator. The several heads represent all the things she wished to do outside of this room such as having guests over their house and being able to be a writer. However, John’s power has forced her pain into creating a mirror from this wallpaper. When a person keep their feelings smashed internally and don’t seek ways to express them there will be an inevitable snap within them as we see in the narrator at the end of the story.

Although it may appear the narrator has had a break from her husband at the end of the story with the ripping down of all the yellow wallpaper, she has actually lost her mind and presented an undiagnosed mental illness. She no longer even refers to John as her husband toward in the end, and although she physically and mentally stood in her path, she “had to creep over him every time” (p. 365). Although she has broken from the control of John, she is now being controlled by the mental illness forced upon her through his dominance, which truly means he will always be the one in control of her.

With feminists movements and women holding several positions of power in today’s world, many people hate to admit that we still live in a male dominated society. Females are seen as domestic figures who should stay in the house, raise the children, cook and clean while the husband goes out to be the bread winner. Unfortunately, for many women they give in to this view of society and allows their husband to control them being that he is the source of living.

While for other women, the fight until their husband understand their is equality within their relationships. Whether it is breaking away from your controlling father or divorcing your oppressive husband, women are no longer putting up with men’s 19th century ideas of living. The two main characters of these short stories served as great examples of men’s dominance leading to the downfall of women. Therefore the modern day woman, should use these as motivation to strive for independence and learning to stand on their own two feet.

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