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Power, Gender and the Battle of the Sexes - Essay Example

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In the stories examined, two women fight the Battle of the Sexes to achieve power. One, Sarah Penn in “The Revolt of the Mother,” in stoic New England manner chooses direct confrontation…
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Power, Gender and the Battle of the Sexes
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Download file to see previous pages “I'm goin' to talk plain” (Freeman 6) she tells her adversary, her [husband], who in nineteenth century manner rules the household. The other, the “narrator ” in “The Yellow Wallpaper,” lapses into a self-destructive pattern of intense analysis of the wallpaper in the room in which she is virtually imprisoned by her controlling husband. These two battles, fought in different manners, ultimately achieve the power sought by the women over their dominating husbands.
The gender roles in the Penn household are all traditional. While Sarah accepts her role as homemaker, she is angry on a personal level that her husband, Adoniran, has not kept his promise that “when we was promised me faithful [to build her a house], choosing instead to build a new barn” (Freeman 6). Her quest for power is not over-arching, but more determination to get something she believes she deserves. The use of spite as well as plain talk to achieve her goal is revealed as she allows Sammy, her son, to go off early to school despite her husband’s complaint that he needs him “to help me unload that wood" (Freeman 5).
In “The Yellow Wallpaper” we see on the part of the narrator a passive aggressive thrust for power over her controlling physician husband, who dismisses his wife’s need for creative outlet and her pleas that her nervous condition is getting worse. Against his orders she writes of her frustration because she “must say what I feel and think in some way” (Gilman 7). He ‘hardly lets me stir without special direction”(Gilman 2)....
To Sarah it seems the men have the best of it while the women remain wanting. Nanny, her daughter, insists she is embarrassed to have her wedding in the old house. Sarah watches her husband on his four wheel cart which he rides like a “chariot.” As a soldier in battle she sees his going off to purchase a new horse as her opportunity to achieve “the new roads of life...and she made [makes] up her mind to her course of action” (Gilbert 9). He will listen to her, or else. The narrator, unlike Sarah, is not the resolute soldier in her battle to gain control over her life. “ I tried to have a real earnest reasonable talk with him [John] the other day...I did not make out a very good case for myself, for I was crying before I had finished” (Gilbert 8). Their battle is waged on more subtle ground. While Sarah’s husband is cognizant of Sarah’s resentment over the house, he chooses life as usual in the hopes, one might assume, as a way around her demands for the new house. When the narrator finally finds courage to confront her situation, “...he [John] sat up straight and looked at me with such a stern, reproachful look that I could not say another word” (Gilbert 9). In frustration and desperation the narrator regresses into the horrific symbols of herself as women trapped within the wallpaper. She moans, “Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind [the wallpaper], and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over. .. in the very shady spots she just takes hold of the bars and shakes them hard. And she is all the time trying to climb through. But nobody could climb through that pattern -- it strangles so...” (Gilman 13) Since the battle is being ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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