No Name Woman and The Yellow Wallpaper, Literary Essay Sample

Published: 2022-03-22
No Name Woman and The Yellow Wallpaper, Literary Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Women Literature The Yellow Wallpaper
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1038 words
9 min read

The "No Name Woman" by Maxine Hong Kingston is basically about a young woman who gets pregnant before marriage and has to face the consequences of her action. The story is not clear regarding falsehood and the truth; this makes it difficult to decrypt the right information about the woman. The author demonstrates the challenges that Chinese American immigrants face in trying to assimilate (No Name Woman 1). The author also illustrates a debate on the difference between personal experience and authenticity. Focusing on the aunt's story only makes it easy to miss the narrative's underlying message on the Chinese society and its harmful impact on women. The story is a frame narrative because, in addition to describing the aunt's journey, it is also the author's diary and helps in resolving her mixed emotions.

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According to the story, men were the heads of their households and made up the entire leadership structure of the society. Children, predominantly sons, were expected to respect their parents' orders and behave in a manner similar to their fathers. The female children were seen as a shame to families, especially in cases where there were no sons. This culture led to the abandoning of the daughters to avoid shame. Within the confines of this culture, virtue would flow down the command chain if the family was following the tradition guidelines. The women's main duties were giving birth and raising the children, cleaning, cooking, as well as being of service to their spouses. They were not allowed to seek divorce or even own land (Woman Warrior 5). They were seen as gentle, fragile and delicate beings without thoughts and opinions. In the author's view, this disrespect of the women is a great weakness of the culture.

Throughout the story, the author diligently works to uncover the story of her aunt. This is a story that her parents have always kept a secret and hidden from her. Through publishing the same secret that continually perturbs her, she is distancing herself from her culture. Kingston chooses to side with her aunt and terms her story as oppression and not a betrayal. According to the author, her aunt was yet another victim of this culture. In the story, the aunt serves as a symbol of women oppression in the society. According to Kingston, the aunt was a victim of lust by men, and she thus feels responsible to represent and speak on her behalf (Woman Warrior 6). In the narrative, Kingston metaphorically brings her aunt back to life by choosing to side with her and speak against the unfair treatment she received.

On its surface, "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Gilman is about a woman who becomes insane as a result of isolation and a postpartum depression. However, a more critical look at the characterization of the protagonist reveals that the story is about identity thus making it a frame narrative. The imaginary woman projection by the protagonist, which at first is just her shadow against the wallpaper's pattern bars fragments her identity (Gilman 1). It internalizes the conflict she goes through and at last leads to the full breakdown of her identity's boundaries, as well as that of her projected shadow. Often alone and not allowed to leave the room, coupled with the lack of any activity to occupy her time makes her delusional.

Her husband describes her heart as "little," a description that is a reflection of her small body size. He also says that she is as sick as she pleases reflecting the behavior portrayed by children attempting to escape chores they despise (Jing 468). The temporary nervous depression diagnosis by her husband was what many said to describe women who were suspected to attempt to escape sexual duties and house chores (Gilman 6). The misdiagnosis and the childlike treatment is what caused her segregation, a situation that in turn drives her insane. The story might be mistaken to be merely about isolation and post-partum driving the protagonist insane. However, the narration has much more than just describing her problems in isolation. It can be described as her illusion of the shadow against the wallpaper's pattern bars driving her insane and finally into believing that she has traded places with the so-called women in the wallpaper. The fact that the story's content is revolving around something extremely sinister makes it beautifully disturbing, and yet the plot and the general writing are so fascinating.

The two narratives are similar on so many fronts considering that they both address the mistreatment of women in society. In the "No Name Woman," frame narrative is used as both a diary to try and resolve the author's mixed emotions, as well as a way to describe her aunt's journey and mistreatment she faced. "The Yellow Wallpaper" story, on the other hand, uses frame narration to describe the protagonist's identity issues and to describe how loneliness and the post-partum drives her insane (Gilman 9). The "The Yellow Wallpaper" uses the story of the protagonist and the manner in which her husband treats her to address the challenges that women face in the society (Jing 468). In the "No Name Woman" story, Kingston distances herself from the culture that mistreated her aunt. Though dead, the aunt is metaphorically brought back to life through Kingston opinion regarding what she went through.

Work Cited

Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. The yellow wallpaper. Project Gutenberg, 1994. 1-10.

Jing, H. E. "Same Plight, Different Struggle: A Comparison of Female Protagonists in Hamlet and "The Yellow Wallpaper"." Journal of Literature and Art Studies 6.5 (2016): 468-472.

Kingston, Maxine Hong. No name woman. ABC, 1981. 1-8.

Kingston, Maxine Hong. The Woman Warrior. Spark Publishing, 2014. 1-9.

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