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Gillman and Hurston and the Treatment of Women

            Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Zora Neale Hurston both write about the foul treatment of women in their marriages during the Victorian Era in the 1890's and during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920's. The narrator, or the wife, in "The Yellow Wall-Paper," undergoes The Rest Cure recommended by her husband and is slowly reduced to an infant-like state of mind. In "The Gilded-Six Bits," a young newlywed African-American couple, Missie May and Joe, live in Chicago. Joe shows glimpses of some unfavorable treatment toward Missie. At one point, Missie May betrays Joe and sleeps with another man, but Joe never lets her forget it. Due to the time periods these two women were in, they had nowhere to go and were trapped. Women could not own a house let alone land a job in these times. Women have been subject to unfair treatment by men not only over 100 years ago, but are still treated unfairly today. .
             In "The Yellow Wall-Paper," Gilman tells the story of a woman's descent into madness as a result of The Rest Cure. More importantly, the story tells of the oppression of women and their role in society. The narrator represents women in a confining society. At this time, women were expected to carry children, keep the house, and basically do what they're told. Men are much more privileged since they can acquire an education, hold a job, and make the majority of the decisions. John, the husband and a physician, represents society. Like society, John controls and determines much of what his wife can or cannot do. John's nature can be accredited to the fact that he is a man and also a "physician of high standing" (205). He tells his wife that she is to take "phosphates or phosphites - whichever it is, and tonics, and journeys, and air, and exercise, and is absolutely forbidden to 'work'" until she is well again (205). Furthermore, John also tries to control how and what his wife should think, exemplifying society's suppression of women.

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