Kate Chopin's Short Stories
Exploring Feminist Identities: Empowerment Through Duality
Female writers constantly try to negotiate their identities in a society that exalts male opinion. That the protagonists of Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Chopin’s “A Pair of Silk Stockings” are married women places both discourses within a patriarchal, institutional framework. Immediately, a critique of marriage arises, and we are forced to examine how women are oppressed, either by patriarchy or by stereotypes placed on them as mothers and nurturers. It is evident that both stories serve to highlight the plight of women, though it remains arguable whether a solution is proposed. Gilman’s nameless protagonist goes mad, while Chopin’s “Little Mrs. Sommers” dreads going back to the boring routine of a housewife. The conclusions, as such, do not seem to empower women, but suggests a futility of fighting against patriarchy. Even if the madness of Gilman’s nameless protagonist is seen as a form of transcendental sanity as suggested by some critics, how empowering is it for females to be represented as mad? Besides, her transcendence - if it is interpreted as such – is temporary, for she might be placed in an asylum for further treatment. Consumerism too, is only a temporary relief for Mrs. Sommers’ mundane existence, for her...
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