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Sinclair Ross, The Painted Door Vs. Charlotte Perkins Gilman's The Yellow Wallpaper: A Study Of The Theme Of Imprisonment

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Imprisonment Contrasting between Ann and CharlotteImprisonment can affect people in many ways. A person can prevail and conquer it. They may find ways to grow and use it to their advantage. A person can also succumb to destruction due to their imprisonment. They may find no way out, and give up. In the two short stories we have read, The Painted Door by Sinclair Ross and The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Ann and Charlotte were faced with physical, social and emotional imprisonment. In The Painted Door, Ann’s imprisonment was by the storm, the lack of her husband understanding her and her guilt. In The Yellow Wall-Paper, Charlotte’s imprisonment was by her husband’s control, the feeling of her husband not believing her and her obsession with the yellow wall paper. In these two short stories, the imprisonment of the character was affected by the actions of the people and environment around them. Different things affected Ann and Charlotte’s physical imprisonment. Ann was physically trapped by the location of the farm and by the storm.

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In The Painted Door, Ann describes the location of the farm as ” long white miles of prairie landscape that seemed a region strangely alien to life. Even the distant farmsteads she could see served only to intensify a sense of isolationism.” (P.289 lines 9 – 11). Later on, we find out that Ann is also facing being trapped by the storm as a ” mane of snow sprung up, so dense and high this time that all the sheds and stables were obscured. Then others followed, whirling fiercely out of hand ” (P.294 lines 5-7) As Ann becomes worried with the storm she tries to console herself with the idea that John will return, and Steven will come by to help her. As the evening continues, Ann decides to face her fear and go out into the storm to look after the stable. As she enters the storm, she realizes how weak she is. “The wind struck from all sides, blustering and furious. It was as if the storm had discovered her, as if all its forces were concentrated upon her extinction.” (P.296 lines 6-8) Ann’s physical imprisonment was due to her environment. Charlotte, however, is trapped by her husbands need to control her behavior to help her get well. Her feels that for her to get better, she must “take phosphates and tonics, and journeys, and air and exercise, and am absolutely forbidden to ‘work’ until I am well again”. (P.106 paragraph 12) She describes his attentions as being “very careful and loving, and hardly lets me stir without special direction. I have a schedule prescription for each hour in the day; he takes all care from me” (P.107 paragraphs 11 and 12).

Charlotte believes that “congenial work, with excitement and change”, (P106 paragraph 14) would help her to get better, yet her husband believes that it would make her worse. Her husband affected Charlotte’s physical imprisonment. Ann and Charlotte both faced physical imprisonment, however, their imprisonments were due to different causes. Their husbands socially trapped both of the women. In Charlotte’s case, her husband tried to control Charlotte to help her get well. He made Charlotte become secretive towards him “I did write for awhile in spite of them; but it does exhaust me a good deal – having to be so sly about it, or meat with heavy opposition.” (P.106 paragraph 16). ” I cry at nothing, and cry most of the time. Of course I don’t when John is here, or anybody else, but when I am alone.” (P.111 paragraphs 2-3) When Charlotte tells John that she feels her condition is not improving, John begs of her to “never for one instant let that idea enter your mind! There is nothing so dangerous, so fascinating, to a temperament like yours.” (P.113 paragraph 14) John believes that he is helping her, and does not believe that she is getting worse. In The Painted Door, Ann’s husband John is not there for her when she needs him. We are introduced to this idea in the beginning, after John decides to go to his father’s. Ann told him “You said yourself we could expect a storm. It isn’t right to leave me here alone.

Surely I’m as important as your father.” (P.288 lines12-14) John feels an obligation to his father, but he does not realize that while he is helping his father he is also pushing Ann away. John and Ann never talk which, causes her to feel alone. “John never talks he doesn’t understand.” (P.291 17-18) John feels that the only way to make Ann happy is to provide her with material possessions. ” He never saw their lives objectively. To him it was not what he actually accomplished by means of the sacrifice that mattered, but the sacrifice itself, the gesture – something done for her sake.” (P.282 lines10-13) Charlotte’s husband socially imprisoned her by wanting to protect her from the world whereas Ann’s husband socially imprisoned her by not understanding what she needed.

The emotional imprisonment of Charlotte and Ann led to their emotional ruin. In Ann’s case, her emotional ruin was caused by her guilt. After she dreams about seeing John, she begins to feel guilty about what she did. To calm down she tells herself that “In such a storm he would never try. They were safe, alone. No one would ever know. It was only fear, morbid and irrational; only the sense of guilt that even her newfound and challenged womanhood could not entirely quell.” (P.302 lines 4-7) Nevertheless, she later realizes that “hadn’t there been other storms, other blizzards? And through the worst of them hadn’t he always reached her?” (P.303 lines 4-6) It is her guilt that causes her to feel that “for tonight, slowly and contritely through the day and years to come, she would make amends.” (P.304 line 1) After they have found his body, she knows that she made a mistake. “…then as if to herself said simply ‘If you knew him, though – John would try’. ” (P.304 lines17-18) She knew that she should never have guessed as to if he would come, and realizes that she must live with what she has done.

Charlotte’s emotional imprisonment begins when she becomes obsessed with the wall-paper. “I am feeling ever so much better! I don’t sleep much at night, for it is so interesting to watch developments; but I sleep a good deal in the daytime.” (P.115 paragraph 8) She also feels that she wall-paper is not affecting her. “I don’t wonder he acts so, sleeping under this paper for three months. It only interests me, but I feel sure John and Jennie are secretly affected by it.” (P.117 paragraphs 14-15) Charlotte becomes so obsessed with the wall-paper that she creeps around the room to take it off the walls. When John comes into the room, she tells him that she’s got out in “spite of you and Jennie, and I’ve pulled off most of the paper ” (P.119 paragraph 17) Charlottes obsession with the wall-paper leads to her emotional imprisonment. She believes that the wall-paper is not affecting her, and by doing so, she leads to her mental destruction. Ann’s emotional imprisonment is caused by her guilt about what she has done. Charlotte does not believe she has done anything wrong. Imprisonment can be attributed to many factors. It can be physical, social or emotional. Everybody responds differently to imprisonment.

In the two short stories read, the imprisonment of the character was affected by the actions of the people and environment around them. In The Painted Door, Ann is imprisoned by the storm, the lack of her husbands understanding, and her guilt about what she has done. In The Yellow Wall-Paper Charlotte is imprisoned by her husbands need to control her behavior, the knowledge of her husband not believing her and her obsession with the yellow wall-paper. Imprisonment can either help you to succeed, or cause you to fail.

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