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Yellow Wall Paper, Beast In The Jungle, And My Contraband

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Most of the literary works we have discussed in class are so distinctive from each other, yet so similar. In "The Yellow Wallpaper" and "The Beast in the Jungle" we see how symbols are used to portray and dramatize the theme of the story. We also learned how women were treated, or "expected" to act, in works such as "The Yellow Wallpaper", "The Beast in the Jungle", and "My Contraband", which then leads to the subject of miscegenation. We also see miscegenation used in most of Chesnutt's works and in "Desiree's baby" by Chopin.

The wallpaper in "The Yellow Wallpaper" was a symbol of imprisonment, restraint, and control. As described by the narrator, the wallpaper "became bars" imprisoning the "woman" in the wallpaper. The narrator herself (Jane?) was constrained by her husband, John, whom did not allow her to pursue a career as a writer and persuaded her to instead rest. The wallpaper symbolizes social restrictions women, especially the narrator, encountered at the time period the story was written. The wallpaper not only is representative of those restrictions the narrator faced, but also the restrictions the author, Gilman, faced herself as a woman also wanting to be a writer. The narrator "peeled off all the paper [she] could reach standing on the floor" , believing that this would free her and the women whose life was trapped by the wallpaper. The ripping of the wallpaper by the narrator symbolizes her freeing herself of those social limits imposed on her, making her feel as though she had also freed many other women whose life where also being controlled, just as Gilman did herself.

While Jane's life was being controlled by her husband, John Marcher's life, from "The Beast in the Jungle", was being restrained by something not human. John Marcher's life was being troubled by "the thing" , something that was to occur to him, an event. I believe that John himself was the "beast", and the "jungle" was the condition in which he lived (without a definite direction). Although it was discussed in class that the "beast" was John's mind and the "jungle" was his life, I don't completely agree with that interpretation. I interpreted it as John being the "beast" himself, not only his mind; the "jungle" was the social environment in which he resided. When I think of a beast, I think of a lonely animal, which is self-centered and preys on others. I felt that what made him more of a "beast" was the way he "preyed" on May Bartram, by having her stay by his side to witness "the thing", although she was not reluctant. It is this subject, May's kindness, which brings us to the next theme, women's treatment.

Women were regarded as comforting, caring, and were sometimes restricted socially, making them socially inferior to men. The women were seen as homemakers whereas men were seen as "bread winners". Women had rights, but their choices were limited. A working woman was not seen as appropriate, like in "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Gilman, in which Jane (?), whom wanted to be a writer (she was actually in fact a writer), upon he husband's orders did not pursue a career. Women are also seen as more caring and compassionate like Miss Dane in "My Contraband" by Alcott, in which she pleads Robert not to kill his own brother, after he had taken his wife and sold Robert away. May Bartram from "The Jungle in the Beast" is also a caring, patient woman, who really dedicates the rest of her life accompanying John Marcher, waiting for "the thing", which ironically had already occurred. I also noticed a sense of



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