All of the readings relate to oppression, but mainly focus on the oppression of women. Their husbands indirectly oppress both female characters in the writings. It is not obvious that they are being oppressed, but it is a consistent theme throughout Hawthorn’s, “The Birthmark”, and Gilman’s, “The Yellow Wallpaper”.
In “The Birthmark”, Aylmer has a wife named Georgiana. Georgiana is beautiful and is loved by her husband very much. He does not directly oppress his wife, but brings up her birthmark. Even just pointing out an imperfection is somewhat oppressive because it lets that person know you do not appreciate them truly for who they are. Georgiana is special and unique because of her birthmark, and it makes her more beautiful. Aylmer oppresses Georgiana by wanting to remove this imperfection. Georgiana now thinks she is not good enough and this leads to her death. Society makes women think their only purpose is to be beautiful and to please their husbands. And if they are not perfect they are not good enough. This corrupt message was internalized by Georgiana, which caused her so much self-hate.
Similarly, in the “The Yellow Wallpaper”, there was also a theme of oppression and mental destruction. The husband in this writing is a doctor and tells his wife that she is sick and must go to solidarity. She may have no visitors besides him and one other woman. She is not allowed to do anything, but she writes and hides her writing from her husband. The wife now sits and does nothing all day except over analyze everything her husband has ever told her, because he oppressed her. She becomes unstable because she thinks she is not good enough to live. This instability leads to her mental issues. Everything negative is rooted to the oppression originally put on her by her husband, due to the imperfection he found in his wife.
And lastly, in “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by Wordworth, this connects to the first two stories because it emphasizes loneliness. And when someone is being oppressed they feel a sense of loneliness. When you are alone you tend to reflect and think a lot, which tends to lead to over analyzing things. The solidarity from the “The Yellow Wallpaper” relates to the reflecting in the poem. And “The Birthmark” relates to the loneliness because Georgiana feels alone and unwanted by her husband.
In service work, it is common to look back and reflect after helping people in the community. Feeling good about your work and what you have accomplished together makes you stronger and less likely to feel alone. Service work is beneficial for everyone involved.