When reading Gilman’s, The Yellow Wallpaper and Hawthorne’s, The Birthmark, I notice that both husbands are sexist and oblivious to their wives’ opinions. In The Birthmark, the scientist believes that he can remove a birth mark from his wife’s face, but she is beautiful with it and everyone except him realize. He goes against her and others’ opinions and proceeds to experiment on ways to remove the blemish from his wife’s face. In The Yellow Wallpaper, the husband has diagnosed his wife, the narrator, with nervous depression and he believes the fastest way for her to heal is to stay inside and not write or express her emotions, no matter how much she disagrees. She notices that in one room there is strange yellow wallpaper in one of the rooms, becoming obsessed with it in a short period of time. Since she is not allowed to leave the house or talk to anyone, she goes insane about this wallpaper.
In The Birthmark, Aylmer, a scientist and husband of Georgiana, asks his wife about the birthmark and her thoughts about removing the blemish. Georgiana and many other people think that the birthmark is sign of beauty, but Aylmer makes her think that the birthmark makes her uglier than if she did not have it so she agrees to get it removed. Aylmer was obsessing over the birthmark and would never have gotten over it, no matter what Georgiana wanted or said, the birthmark was going to get removed if the two wanted to stay married. Aylmer eventually mixes a potion that slowly removes the birthmark, but it kills his wife. Aylmer’s arrogance and selfishness was the cause of his wife’s death. He never listened to anyone and he could not look past the birthmark even though many saw it as beautiful.
In The Yellow Wallpaper, John, the narrator’s husband, takes himself and the narrator to a colonial mansion for the summer. The narrator declares “that there is something queer about it.” (Gilman, 387) John insisted that they stay, so they did. John is continually taking control of the narrator’s life, keeping her in the mansion and telling her that she cannot go outside, work, or write. The narrator again tells him of the weird figure in the wall, but again he takes control. He thinks it is the depression. She then goes insane over the wallpaper, leading her ripping it all down to save the figure behind it. The figure behind the wallpaper was a woman struggling to get through bars, it seemed that she was trapped. This woman was the narrator, she was trapped by her husband and she could not break free from him. John’s controlling behavior is the cause of his wife’s break into insanity.
In both pieces, the husbands were taking control over their wives’ lives, eventually leading one to death and the other to complete insanity. They both describe the view of women from a man’s perspective of that time, the women are supposed to succumb to wants and demands of their husband. In both cases, the conclusion may have been exaggerated, but they still show that men should not have any control over women and that women should be independent as they are today.