America in the late nineteenth century was full of women poets who hungered for freedom of different sorts. Through journalism they were able to express their personal life issues or be the voice for the other women of America. Two phenomenal authors that we’ve studied were Emily Dickinson and Charlotte Gilman. Dickinson’s untitled poems & Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper both expressed their lack of freedom and provident injustices. While both Dickinson and Gilman were secluded from the outside world, Gilman is forcibly confined while Dickinson is confined involuntarily.
Both writings basically have the same theme, but their messages are presented differently. In Gilman’s short story The Yellow Wallpaper, she tackles women’s lack of freedom directly. This story shows the role women played in the 19th century. Men were of more value than women. The woman’s job was to be submissive to the husband. Although this unintended act was harmful to the women in this time, it also gave them power. Gilman’s story was from firsthand experience but she was also a voice to the women in that time as well.
The choice that the main character’s husband chose to make in Gilman’s writing gives the reader a clear definition of marriage life as well as male power. He doesn’t give her a choice he does what he thinks is best. “There comes John, and I must put this away—he hates to have me write a word. ” (509). John, her husband, intends to keep her comfortable and her mind not stressed. Although his intentions are good, this one example shows the reader the mindset of men and the role of women in this century.
Gilman was known to have a “mental illness”. However, her writings expressed the current social conduct perfectly. Her confinement contributed to the theme of this story allowing the reader to clearly visualize the women of this century pain, agony, and desire for equal rights. Emily Dickinson wrote with great passion. All of her poems were centered on the same central focus. In several of her pomes she expressed the inequalities of women. Just like Gilman, Dickinson was secluded. However, Dickinson’s seclusion was by choice.
This choice she made was so uncommon. Nevertheless, this choice made her to become one of the best poets of her time. Dickinson was well educated. Her seclusion gave her the ability to have a deeper passion for her writing. To the reader it may sound strange as to how she could know so much about the outside world and the issues the women faced. Somehow, she was able to view the outside world and express her knowledge and understanding thru writing. Gilman and Dickinson both were powerful voices of their time.
They wrote during a time when women were undergoing a drastic change (as to power) in America. Although Gilman began to write poetry ten to fifteen years later after Dickinson, their work had several similarities. Their passion for writing, desire for change and freedom, and seclusion made them to similar writers. Unlike Gilman, Dickinson chose to live in seclusion. There is a parallel in Gilman’s forced confinement and Dickinson’s self-imposed confinement. However, both authors have the same purpose in writing.