Characterization of Women in 19th Century Literature
The short stories "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Gilman, "The Storm by Kate Chopin, and "Eveline" by James Joyce uses women characters as protagonists in their stories and depict their life in the 19th century society. The time period wherein these stories took place is important and vital to the essence and message that these writers want to extend to their readers. One important message that these writers want to extend to us readers is that in these three stories, women empowerment is apparent, and that women are gradually asserting their freedom of choice in a repressive society that they live in, which is actually male-dominated (patriarchal society). The thesis that this paper will discuss is that through the stories "The Yellow Wallpaper," "The Storm," and 'Eveline," women are portrayed to 'break free,' to empower themselves against a repressive and patriarchal 19th century society.
In the short story "Eveline," the primary dilemma that Eveline encounters in the story is her plan to leave her home to elope with a man named Frank to Buenos Aires. The story initially starts with Eveline reminiscing about her childhood and life at her hometown, memories that are both painful and good to her. Painful memories of her life include his father's sometimes-hostile treatment to her, most especially after her mother's death. It is apparent in the story that Eveline feels so much bitterness at her father because of the hardships and sufferings she experienced living with him after her mother dies. Meanwhile, Eveline's good memories of her mother is another reason why she is reluctant to leave her hometown; leaving her childhood home and town will be equal to leaving every good memories that she have of that place, and of her family as well. Eveline's reminiscing of good and bitter memories of her life in her hometown gives us an idea how life had been for Eveline and her mother. In general, we can illustrate Eveline's society as quite repressive of women, as illustrated with the hardships she and her mother had undergone under Eveline's father's abuse. For Eveline, leaving her home would mean the end of the abuses, the sufferings that she experienced with her father. However, her escape from hardship would also mean leaving the persons dearest to her, her father and her brother Harry.
It is remarkable that despite the good promise of life that Frank seem to present to Eveline, Eveline seemed to have a change of mind when she is leaving with Frank at the ship awaiting their new life in Buenos Aires. The latter part of the story is vital in the story, since this event represents Eveline's greatest 'turning point' in her life: she realized that the solution to all the sufferings and repression she received from her father and her community cannot be solved by leaving the problem unsolved. That is, by eloping with Frank to Buenos Aires, Eveline is leaving an unsolved problem that will haunt her and leave her unhappy for the rest of her life. Besides, it is evident that Eveline doesn't love Frank at all; she seemed only 'smitten' with Frank's liberty, with the good voyages and journeys he had experienced in life, which are things that Eveline had missed out and longed for while living her life in a 'cage' that is symbolized by the responsibility that she has on her father and her role as a repressed woman in her community. Thus, Eveline finally found resolve for herself, which is not to commit herself to another situation wherein she will suffer, and decided not to leave home and left Frank leaving for the ship to Buenos Aires, letting Frank leave for Buenos Aires alone, with Eveline's giving "him no sign of love or farewell or recognition." Finally, Eveline empowers herself by making the right choice.
The Storm" is also a story that talks about women empowerment through freedom to express repressed love and longing for one's true love. Calixta, the protagonist in the story, is a hardworking housewife, who experienced her 'life-changing' experience one day, when a storm has occurred in their place. The storm in the story signifies the 'turbulent' events that happened between Calixta and her old love, Alcee, and this is when both had experienced freedom for once in their lives and were able to release their…