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PATRIARCHY

Theroleofwomenintheeyesofsocietythroughouthistoryhasalwaysbeenoneof
inferioritytomen.SexismtowardswomenduringtheRomanticandRealistperiodswasvery
common.InthenovelTheScarletLetter,NathanielHawthorneillustratesthesocialidealsand
practicesthatwomenwereexpectedtofollowinthe17thand18thcenturiesandtheconsequences
ofneglectingtofollowthem.IntherealisticshortstoryTheYellowWallpaper,Charlotte
PerkinsGilmanalsoillustratestheroleofwomeninsocietywiththeprotagonistofthestory
unwillinglyrelyingonherhusbandtofulfillallofherneeds.Bothofthesestories,althoughset
indifferenttimeperiods,conveyalmosttheexactsamemessage.
InTheScarletLetter,NathanielHawthorneintroducesHesterPrynne.Hesterisforcedto
wearascarletA,asavisualsymbolofhersinanddisobedience.Herpunishmentallows
authorityfigurestokeepcontroloverHesterandherfellowPuritansbyusingherasanexample
ofwhathappenstothosewhosin.Atherwhohadoncebeeninnocent,asthefigure,the
body,therealityofsin(67).Thescarletlettereventuallyconsumesherandthemembersofher
societyonlyseeherasawalkingAratherthanahumanbeing.Hesterrepeatedlyquestionsher
existenceandwhyGodischoosingtopunishherinsuchapeculiarwayratherthanjustkilling
herforhersins.Hersomethingsupportstheideathatsocietyforceswomentoremainsilent,
conform,andobey.EventhoughHesterchosetobreaktheconservativepracticesthather
communityhadputinplace,theirharshtreatmentofherandherchildtrulyposeaquestionof
whetherorHesteristheonewhoshouldbepunished,andwhatsocietalstandardsareinplacefor
hypocrisy.ThroughoutthebookHesteristreatedasanoutcastinhercommunity.Inallher
intercoursewithsociety,however,therewasnothingthatmadeherfeelasifshebelongedtoit

(70).Oneinterestingpointthatbecomesrelevantwhilereadingthisnovelisthegrowthof
Hestersconscious.Throughherisolation,shebeginstonoticethe(mis)treatmentofwomenin
hercolony.Asthebookprogresses,herobservationgrows,andthescarletletterovertakesher
lifeshebecomesseeminglystronger.HersilentrebellionsseemtobeHawthorneswayof
stressingtheunequalrolesofthesexesinsociety.Theportrayalofwomeninotherpiecesof
darkromanticliteratureisnotthatdifferentfromHawthornesportrayalofwomen,specifically
Hester,inTheScarletLetter.
InTheYellowWallpaper,CharlottePerkinsGilmanalsoillustratestheroleofwomen
insocietywiththemaincharacterofthestoryunwillinglyrelyingonherhusbandtofulfillallof
herneeds.Womenoftenrelyonmentofulfilltheirneeds,andthisoccursinmanytypesof
literature.TheYellowWallpaper,isnoexception.Thenhetookmeinhisarmsandcalled
meblessedlittlegoose,andsaidhewouldgodowntothecellar,ifIwished,andhaveit
whitewashedinthebargain(3).Thisevidencesupportstheideathattheprotagonistrelieson
herhusbandforeverythingbyprovidingtwoexamples.Hephysicallycarrieshertoherbed,and
hesuggestsrenovationstokeepherquiet.Anotheraspectofgenderrolesandgenderrelationsin
TheYellowWallpaper,isthewaythatherhusbandaddressesher.Whatisitlittlegirl(6).
Blessedlittlegoose(3).Bothexamplesalongwithsupportingevidenceoftuckingherin,
carryingher,andforcinghertosleepinthenurseryprovethatherhusbandtreatshermorelikea
childthananequalcounterpart.

Intheromanticnovel,TheScarletLetter,andtherealistshortstory,TheYellowWallpaper,
HawthorneandGilmanbothportraysimilarpictures;asocietywherewomenareseenaslesser
orinferiortomen,andtheconstantstrugglethattheyfacewithintheirsocietiestobetreated
equally.Onemajorpointinbothstoriesisthefighttofindtheirselves.InTheScarletLetter,the
protagoniststrugglestofindherselfinthemidstofherveryinfluencingandcruelsociety.In
TheYellowWallpaper,theprotagoniststrugglestofindherselfundertheoverbearinghand
andeyeofherhusband.
Inthenovel TheScarletLetter,NathanielHawthorneillustratesthesocialidealsand
practicesthatwomenwereexpectedtofollowinthe17thand18thcenturiesandtheconsequences
ofneglectingtofollowthem.IntherealisticshortstoryTheYellowWallpaper,Charlotte
PerkinsGilmanalsoillustratestheroleofwomeninsocietywiththeprotagonistofthestory
unwillinglyrelyingonherhusbandtofulfillallofherneeds.Eventhoughthesetwostorieswere
set in times almost 200 years apart, they both tell similar tales, women that are trying to
overcometheirburdensandadversityinapatriarchalsocietythatforcesthemtosubmitand
obey.