A Feminist Theme Comparison of ‘the Yellow Wallpaper’ & ‘Trifles’

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Joel Arpin Prof Karl Anderson English Com & Lit 102-05 March 3, 2013 A Feminist Theme Comparison of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ & ‘Trifles’ This exposition should convince the reader that there are clear underlying feminist themes connecting Trifles and The Yellow Wallpaper. The foremost common themes in these stories address the patriarchal dominance of an earlier -turn of the century- society and the demoralizing effect it has on the lives and emotional wellbeing of the women in the stories. The male characters are portrayed as domineering yet clueless authority figures who maintain their position certainly by virtue of their gender. Being a product of Victorian mores, the men are almost subconsciously dismissive of the female intellect, regarding it as childish and inferior. The women are casualties of a domestic prison, a prison for the mind, created by society and their husbands, who are victims themselves in their own way, of a Gilded Age mindset. The women have no voice and no authority. Their intellect and creativity is considered a frivolous obstacle and a distraction from their jobs as homemakers. There is irony in the endings of these stories in that the victims, the women, adjust to their lot and turn the tables on their oppressors. In Trifles, the women come to a realization that they must bond together against their clueless husbands to see justice done. In the Yellow Wallpaper the narrator frees herself from her jail and jailer and builds herself an alternate reality, free in her own mind from what is oppressing her in spite of her actual captivity. However different the authors tell their stories, both expose male superiority to be an illusion and its inevitable by-products of estrangement and loneliness to be very real. A feminist critic reading these two stories would immediately recognize the author’s attempts to portray the male

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