Term Paper: Message, Different Genres Literature

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[. . .] However, Millay's tone and voice is always strong and direct. This creates the sense that women are not as they appear. Even if a woman's appearance might suggest weakness or control by others, this does not mean that the person is not strong and in charge. This is one way that questions are immediately introduced, with the message to men being that women may not be what they seem to be or what you want them to be. There is a contradiction in this, as Hubbard (105) notes, where the speaker of the poem "submits to no one but herself." The poem also effectively uses the sonnet structure to make it point. One of the main features of the sonnet structure is the final two lines, which typically introduce a new idea that adds meaning to the remainder of the poem. As noted, the entire poem has Millay seeming to suggest that she accepts the male view of woman and accepts her place as a sexual being. In one way, it is confronting and challenging men, simply by stating so directly that she is well aware of her place. But it is not actually contradicting or stating a problem with this. The final two lines change this (Millay 895):

I find this frenzy insufficient reason

For conversation when we meet again.

In these lines, Millay adds to the poem by showing that it is not acceptable. This line also changes because Millay has now turned from recognizing herself as being judged to judging men. And finally, she is now giving a direct order to the male reader, saying that it is not acceptable. With this line understood, the beginning of the poem has new meaning, with it now representing not how things are, but how things should change. This shows how the form of the sonnet is used to represent the kind of change that Millay is trying to induce. Much like Glaspell, she wants men to gain a new view of women and reconsider how they see things. She wants to challenge people to look at things in a new way. The major difference is that she does it via a direct message to the reader, rather than a message delivered via the interpretation of characters and events.

The next work to be considered is Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper." In this work, Gilman uses the short story genre to express her opinions and make her statement about the role of women. The short story is narrated by a woman who is in the repressed role of women. The story follows the woman as she descends into madness and eventually returns from madness with an understanding of who she is and how she has spent her whole life repressed. Like Glaspell, the short story genre means that the story is told via the events that happen. However, the short story elements adds another element because it is able to get inside the narrator's head and show what the experience is like for her. The short story effectively uses the basic short story structure to make its point. This means that the story begins with a problem, follows the evolution of that problem through the middle portion of the story, and emerges with a conclusion that resolves the problem. Via this process, the main character undergoes a major change. One of the interesting things is that at the beginning, it is not really known what the problem is. The narrator notes that it has something to do with the house repeating that, "there is something queer about it" (Gilman 541). However, beyond this she does not have any clear idea of what is wrong. The middle portion of the story is essentially her exploration to find out what is wrong. It can be considered as a personal struggle, where she allows herself to find out who she is and what she needs. The problem Gilman faces is that she is trying to show women about a problem that will not be obvious to them. In short, she is trying to show how the roles of women have become so accepted by society that they are not even noticed. And without seeing the roles, there is no possibility of questioning them. This is similar to Glaspell's view of people accepting the rules of society simply because they are there. Gilman's solution to this problem is to have her character descend into madness. If madness is considering as a state of seeing an altered reality, this becomes a method by which the narrator can gain a view of herself that goes beyond her accepted views. She can be set free from in-built expectations and can see a broader picture. Even in this, the narrator still struggles to define the actual problem. However, she allows herself to let go and eventually realizes that she is trapped by her own role. The breakthrough occurs when she tears the wallpaper from the walls. After tearing down the wallpaper she says, "I've got out at last ... In spite of you and Jane. And I've pulled off most of the paper, so you can't put me back!" (Gilman 553). This is the narrator's turning point where she finally realizes that she has been trapped by her role in society. Tearing down the wallpaper is not a major event for her life and does not mean that she is actually changing the situation for herself. Instead, it represents that she has changed and can now see beyond what is accepted for woman and can see that was in a role. She may not have freed herself physically and she may remain in the role of woman. The difference is that she is freed intellectually and now has knowledge of her role. In this way, the story shows a transformation, where the narrator journeys from a point where she is blind to her role, to a point where she sees it clearly. It is this same transformation that Gilman wants her readers to experience. Another important related to the way the genre of the short story is used is that the genre is one where the reader journeys with the character. Unlike a play where a person is watching the characters, or a poem where the reader is seeing what the poet has to say them, in a short story the reader becomes the character. They are allowed inside their world and travel with them. Gilman makes good use of this by setting up the story where the reader does not initially know what is wrong with the narrator. The reader knows only as much as the narrator knows, which is that something does not feel right. This motivates the reader into wanting to find out what is wrong and makes them part of the journey. The narrator and the reader then travel together on a journey of discovery. This is also assisted by Gilman's use of a first-person narrator, which creates a strong link for the reader. In effect, the reader experiences what Gilman experiences, gains the understanding she gains, and changes as she changes. This makes the short story an enlightening experience, with enlightenment Gilman's key goal. In addition, the intense struggle of the narrator and the first-person narration creates strong empathy for the character. The effectiveness of this can be considered by comparing the result with Glaspell's "Trifles." In "Trifles," it was shown that women are placed in a role in society and how the rules of society are so ingrained that they are not questioned. While this shows the problems in society for women, this does not necessarily make the reader care. In fact, the women in "Trifles" seem to fare quite well. Minnie did suffer because of her husband, but she took control of the situation, and it seems that she will get away with her actions. In addition, while the play tells the viewer that Minnie suffered in her marriage, it does not make the suffering personal. "The Yellow Wallpaper" is different because it makes the suffering very personal. The reader experiences the narrator's madness and this makes the emotional impact on women clear. This adds a sense of motivation to want to change things, something that "Trifles" lacked. Gilman also effectively uses metaphor to express her point. The wallpaper itself is main metaphor. It represents how women are confined. This is made clear where the narrator refers to the women behind the wallpaper (Gilman 552):

The front pattern does move -- and no wonder! The woman behind shakes it. Sometimes I think there are a great many women behind, and sometimes only one, and she crawls around fast, and her crawling shakes it all over.

This refers to how all women are trapped behind the wallpaper where they cannot be seen. Wallpaper though is just a decorative covering. It can be torn down to reveal the truth. This is exactly… [END OF PREVIEW]

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