The Yellow Wallpaper

Housewives and Breadwinners: Chopin and Gilman Take On Gender Roles 12th Grade

While their origins are still being debated, there is no arguing the fact that gender roles have been present around the world for decades. Whether they are considered beneficial or oppressive, gender roles have served as a basis for some of the most important literary works in history. Two examples are “The Story of an Hour,” a short story by Kate Chopin once featured in Vogue, and “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” which is Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s most popular work. “The Story of an Hour” and “The Yellow Wall-Paper” both provide insightful commentary on gender roles, especially those of women, in society during the late 1800s, such as which positions and behaviors are considered acceptable or desirable based on one’s gender, and demonstrate the harmful effects they can have, including mental instability and limited access to resources such as education.

Gender roles are social roles consisting of behaviors and attitudes that are considered acceptable, and oftentimes desirable, for people based on their sex. Gender roles vary among cultures, but are usually focused on the concepts of femininity and masculinity. Many of the “expectations” that are emphasized now were not present in the past. This is because gender roles change over...

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