The Powerful Male Authority Essay

1702 words - 7 pages

Where is the man who has the power and skill to stem the torrent of a women's will?- UnknownOn the pages of the short stories "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "Hills Like White Elephants" the control and power that men had over women is reflected in the conflicts women of these stories face. The male - female connection has evolved with the demands of time. Presently, in North America, women dominate corporate towers and universities, and are ever present in political fields. We exist in a society that values the rights and accomplishments of the woman, and woman have become nearly equal to their counterpart - the man. However, it was not long ago when women were regarded as children and had no ...view middle of the document...

Surely a room of such putrid surrounding would not cure a disorder of hysterical tendency, but provoke and worsen the disorder? Support that John cares only for his satisfaction and not his wife's is when he solely states that his wife is "to take care of [her]self for his sake" (7). John does not need his wife to get better so she can be over with suffering, he needs her to recover so she can cook for him again, and tend for his children. If John cared for his wife as an equal human counterpart he would invest more time and understanding of his wife's mental state. John's control and lack of interest in his wife's brittle state causes her to degenerate and destroy any chance she had at getting better. Subsequently, Jig, the "girl" (146) in "Hills Like White Elephants", also seems to lack the ability to make decisions without the influence from her "American" (146) lover. The main conflict in this story is Jig's decision about an abortion. Once again, the female figure becomes inferior to the superior knowledge of the male figure. A decision that will affect the female's emotional and physical state far worse than any man's well - being is ultimately influenced by the male in this situation. The American's assurance that if Jig has an abortion it will only be to "just [ ] let the air in" (147) is an unambiguous example showing that male has no concern for the emotional aftermath a female feels previous to an abortion. To the American, an abortion is just another step in the road to life, just another door to open. The reader is left with an uncertainty to whether or not Jig will have an abortion - this uncertainty is exactly what Jig feels. Through the story Jig's tone about feeling "fine [and having] nothing wrong with [her]" (150) influences the reader to understand that Jig believes the baby is not an unwanted white elephant, but something Jig truly wants to keep. Although, the presence of an over - powering male manipulator that is encouraging an abortion has Jig confused at what she really wants. If Jig were to endure the decision of an abortion without male influence she would not have confusion in her way - she would be able to see her path to her own decision. Like the American, John in "The Yellow Wallpaper" clouds his wife's perception of what is the best for her interests - she is stuck in a room she despises, but she believes that John's diagnoses for her is best because he is a "physician" (1). Both Gilman's John and Hemingway's American have used their power to choose the fate of two passive women.Something that is also universal in both short stories is how males treat females like children - children are substandard to adults as women are inferior to men. It is also apparent that they way men treat women as children is reflected in the women's mannerism and they begin to operate like children. Jane suffers her hysteria in a "nursery at the top of the house" (2). The windows are "barred for little children" (3), and ironically...

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