25 February 2015
Comparative Analysis Essay
In Sweat, by Zora Neale Hurston, and The Yellow Wallpaper, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, social norms of women and dynamics of authority in the family; greatly affected the actions and self-image of the main characters in both stories. The character, Delia Jones, in and the narrator in The Yellow Wallpaper are both individuals that are greatly influenced by what their societies deemed as acceptable roles and behaviors for married women. However, they also challenged these notions in order to survive and overcome the hardships in their lives. In Sweat, Delia worked as a washwoman in order to provide for her family. In the early 1900s, most women in this time period stayed home. However, Delia was the sole financial provider of her household. Her husband, Sykes, didn’t work at all and also challenged social norms of the time by freely spending the money that his wife earned. Since Delia had married someone who threw out social customs and rules in order to live an easy life, she had no choice but to also go against these artificial social constructs in order to support herself. The dirt that was scrubbed out of the laundry and the money that she earned knew no gender and she too ignored what stood in her way of survival. Since Delia’s job took much of her time and energy, she often gave herself a head start by soaking the soiled clothes that she had picked up the day before when she returned from church. Although it was against the Sabbath to work on a Sunday, Delia again ignored social norms and customs of the time in order to survive the workweek. Sykes would say that she was “nothing but a hypocrite. One of them amen-corner Christians- sing whoop, and shout, then come home and wash white folks’ clothes on the Sabbath” (Hurston 699)1. This is ironic for Sykes to say while he breaks the law of Christianity for his own pleasure, by having an affair with another woman. The...
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