Comparative Study on the Yellow Wallpaper and Young Goodman Brown

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Updated: Feb 20, 2019
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The book “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne is about a man (Goodman Brown) who leaves home to attend an unholy meeting at the heart of a forest, only to find that most of his pious friends are actually ardent devil worshippers. He remains wary of them when he goes back home till his dying moments.

The author is an American novelist and short story writer. Most of his literary works revolve in and around England, most of which features symbolism with a sense of anti-puritanism inspiration. On the other hand, the “The Yellow Wallpaper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman presents a woman (the narrator) who suffers mental illness having been locked away in a room by her husband (John) as a measure to alleviate her health.

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The narrator is presented as a stressful woman fighting for personal freedom. The author was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short of stories and a lecturer in social reforms. As a utopian feminist she was a figure to be modeled on by the future generations of feminism on the account of her unorthodox lifestyle and concepts. Most of her literary works revolve around the position of the womenfolk in a society.

The two books have used symbolism to introduce underlying themes. As such, this paper illuminates how symbolism has been used to illuminate the underlying theme of a society in the two books: Nathaniel uses the theme of society to show the sins and evils among humanities and Gilman uses it to show the limited roles of women and how invisible they are besides their male counterparts.

Throughout their literary works Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Nathaniel Hawthorne have used language and symbolism to develop the theme of society. A society is an aggregate of people that live together in an order community. To begin with symbolism comes out in the Yellow Wallpaper Book. In this regard, there are many instances of symbolism that have been used to bring on board the rather enslaved position of the women folk in the society who follows anything their husbands say with not so much of a choice as seen when she says – And what can one do?

In this regard, the narrator has been portrayed as the kind of gender (female) that is subservient to its male counterparts that it does not question how they handle issues closely related to them (the female gender) this becomes clear when she says So I take pains to control myself before him. This shows that women are expected to remain calm even when they have all reasons to act otherwise, in the narrator’s society.

Again, the narrator is misdiagnosed and locked away in a lonely house against her will this crystalizes when she says I don’t like our room a bit John would hear of it. This shows that women do not have a say in the society even with what directly affects them this furthers crystallizes when she says Then let us go downstairs there are such pretty rooms there, and John would not hear her out.

Furthermore, John’s sister, Jennie, has also been used as symbolism of the roles of the women folk in the society (servers of the wishes of the make folk) as seen when the narrator says she is a perfect and enthusiastic housekeeper and hopes for no better profession. This shows that in the narrator’s society, women are only cut out for domestic chores. True to this, the narrator says this about her house help. It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. This serves to show that women are best at the profession of housekeeping as it were Indeed the narrator is forced not to write as was her hobby she thus fears to write fearing her husband as seen when she says There comes John’s sister I must not let her find me writing.

At the bidding of her brother, Jennie remains locked away in the kitchen performing the normal housekeeping chores which she does without questioning the sanity of her brother. The two are locked away from the outside world and remain indoors, waiting for Johns next bidding. John and the narrator’s brother have been used as symbols to show the roles of the men in the society as seen when the narrator says John is a physician my brother is also a physician. This would mean that the narrator comes from a patriarchal society and being the feminist, she is, she exposes this the ordeals women face in such a society. (Gilman, Pg. 64-77, 2013).

Symbolism also comes out clearly in the book, The Young Goodman Brown. In the book, Goody Cloyse has been portrayed as the symbol of religion hypocrisy in the society. This is evident in the instance when she is portrayed as a staunch devil worshipper as seen when Brown says Goody Cloyse, that pious teacher of catechism who had received the devil’s promise to be queen of hell.

This surprises Brown who has known her for her pious personality, having been her catechism student at a local church. This scenario of symbolism serves to bring out the kind of a society where the most pious are the evilest Goody was a catechism teacher but nevertheless she had.

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Comparative Study on The Yellow Wallpaper And Young Goodman Brown. (2019, Feb 20). Retrieved from