Brinder G. Green
World Literature 2
April, 11th 2006
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, â€œThe Yellow Wallpaperâ€ (1892) and Alifa Rifaat, â€œMy World of the Unknownâ€ (1973).
The authors, Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Alifa Rifaat, are both females in periods where women played a significantly subordinate role compared to their male counterparts, despite the fact that they lived in two very different societies on opposite sides of the world. Their short stories are considered to be invaluable works of literature, based loosely on their personal experiences as both women reluctantly entered into marriages as was expected by the norms of their respective societies. ...view middle of the document...
In â€œThe Yellow Wallpaperâ€ the narrator relates her frustration with the way in which the men in her family treat her. She is constantly rejected by the opinions of her husband. He disregards her opinion of the queer nature of the house and even laughs at her when she questions the reasons for the cheap rent and prolonged vacancy of it. She simply wants a bit of excitement in her life by being able to write and to have visitors, but John, her husband, disagrees and insists that the cure to her troubles is a large amount of rest and forbids her to work. When she compares her opinions to that of her husbandâ€™s, she repeatedly asks â€œWhat is one to do?â€ (Davis, 941). She even entertains the idea that he may be the reason she isnâ€™t getting well. The lack of happiness and satisfaction in their individual lives leaves both narrators to search for some fulfillment within their mysterious homes where they spend the majority of their time.
â€œThe Yellow Wallpaperâ€ and â€œMy World of the Unknownâ€ both employ elements of the Gothic novel. Such novels are characterized by mystery, fantasy, and terror, and are typically based in some strange mansion, or dark dungeon. Almost all the activities in both stories occur inside of the dwelling house and the obsessions of the main character of each story originate from the very structure of each house. In â€œThe Yellow Wallpaperâ€ the narrator describes the house as being haunted and strange from the beginning of her tale. She wonders about the activities of the previous occupants of the mansion since the windows are barred, her bed is nailed to a terribly scratched floor. In light of her developing madness, it almost seems like the house is actually a kind of asylum. The narrator in â€œMy World of the Unknownâ€ actually dreamt about the house she was apparently destined to reside in. She is strangely drawn to this house and disregards the fact that people in the community believed that it was haunted by spirits. It is from the narratorâ€™s bedroom wall that the storyâ€™s must puzzling character, the woman in the wallpaper, emerges in â€œThe Yellow Wallpaperâ€. The cracks in the walls of the house in â€œMy World of the Unknownâ€ also serve as a portal through which the djinn, a mystical being of Arabic folklore that took the form of a snake in this story, travels between the Earth and her magical dimension. The houses therefore, serve an important role in the womenâ€™s quest for liberation as they are the link to the beings that ultimately distract the narrators from their dreary wifely existences and consequently drive them to madness.
The narrators in the stories have...