We have studied stories that were written before 1914 and all featured strong women. Because the stories were written before the 1900’s I had expected the women to be very docile, obedient and with no strong will of their own because at that time men were viewed to have more integrity and had higher social standing than women. The short stories that I am going to concentrate on are Turned by Charlotte Perkins Gilman and The Necklace and Vendetta by Guy de Maupassant. In Turned Mrs Marroner is the main female character who is a rich Victorian wife in charge of a large household.
Her and her husband have a happy but childless marriage though this seems to change when they employ a young servant girl called Gerta who the couple immediately take to because of her obedience and willingness to learn. However when Mr Marroner goes away on a long business trip Mrs Marroner intercepts a letter that is addressed to Gerta that reveals she is pregnant with Mr Marroner’s baby. Mrs Marroner at first feels furious with the girl and her husband for deceiving her in this way but her anger soon turns into pity for the girl and she feels outraged at the way her husband treated bother her and the girl.She sees this not only as a crime against her but also against womanhood. She then leaves her home and husband to live in seclusion and secrecy with Gerta and the baby that she helps to raise. In The Necklace the main character is Madame Loisel who is a lower middle class woman that is discontented with her life and longs for riches and spends her day’s day dreaming about how her life would have been if she had been born into a higher class or had married into the upper-class.Her husband a clerk at the ministry of public instruction receives an invitation to a high society ball and expects his wife to be pleased but instead she is instead upset at the fact that she has no suitable clothes or jewels to wear. Her husband manages to scrape the money together to buy her a new dress and she manages to persuade an old well off school friend of hers to lend her some jewellery.
She is the belle of the ball but in her haste to leave at the end she loses her friends necklace and in order to buy her friend a replacement her husband and herself borrow large amounts of money and get rid of the few luxuries she had in the first place in order to pay off her debt. After ten years due to the hard work and toil she had to undergo Madame Loisel is a former shadow of herself and meets her old friend Madame Forestier in the park and tells her proudly of the debt she paid in order to replace her friend’s necklace.To which her friend replies that the necklace was made of paste not diamonds and worth nothing more than 500 francs at most. I think Madame Loisel can be viewed as a strong willed woman because she was determined to rid herself of the debt and lost the few luxuries she had in her life in order to repay it. The Necklace is similar to the Cinderella story with a “rags to riches” story. Unlike Cinderella The Necklace shows us that wealth does not always guarantee happiness. In Cinderella the main female character after living in poverty and neglect finds her prince charming and lives happily ever after.This contrasts with The Necklace because Madame Loisel supposedly is shown to be poor but her concept of poverty changes when she has to pay back her debt and when she realises the truth about the necklace it is not a typical happy ending but the reader is shown a moral.
The Vendetta is set in southern Italy, due to a family feud the main female character loses her only son due to a knife attack by Nicholas Ravolati who escaped the following night to the isle of Sardinia. The widow vows to avenge her son’s death and trains her dog to murder by keeping the animal hungry for days then rewarding it with food when it attacks.When the dog is sufficiently trained to kill; she travels across to Sardinia and revenges her son’s death. The fact that widow Saverini though old and weak herself vowed to kill her son’s murderer and succeeded in keeping her promise. The setting in which the stories are set also greatly affect how we view the female character and the morals of each story.
Turned is set in a rich Boston household during the late 19th century in this story Mrs Marroner is the main female character who is a rich Victorian wife in charge of a large household.The way in which Mrs Marroner manages to put aside her own personal emotions in order to do the right thing for every one involved suggests that she is strong willed. The fact that she leaves the comfort of her previous home and starts’ using her maiden name shows that she is strong willed because her behaviour is very different to that which was expected of women in those times. “The Necklace” is set in Paris during the 1800’s and the story investigates French society at the time. Madame Loisel though born in lower middle class and married to a man of equal class she longs to make her way into high society.This is shown in the text when she states that a “women should have no social class; her place in society should depend upon her beauty, her grace and her charm. ” Though society at the time was completely class structured she believes that an ordinary woman should be able to “Compete with the grandest lady in the land. ” “The Vendetta” is set southern Italy during the late southern century.
This was a place renowned for gangsters at that time. Widow Saverini is an old and crippled woman who in those times were expected to be peaceful and religious characters defies the stereo type of older female characters in those times.She actually goes to the church for Sacrament fully aware of the horrific deed she is going to commit. This behaviour would be expected more from a young impulsive man during those times.
“Turned” begins with the two female characters having realised what has been happening. The characters are shown sobbing in two contrasting rooms to help us gain further knowledge about the characters backgrounds and personalities. The writer then explains how they reached this situation in a chronological order.One technique used to develop our understanding of Mrs Marroner is the use of extended metaphor. Mrs Marroner’s state of mind and emotions are compared with water. In the beginning of the story she compares the new realisation with a childhood trauma “it brought vaguely to her mind an awful moment in the breakers at York beach, one summer in girlhood when she had been swimming under the water and could not find the top. ” This image of water and a childhood event is used to reflect her panic and hopelessness of the situation she finds herself in.
Other examples of using the image of water to reflect her emotions are “then came the deluge” and when she starts to feel pity for Gerta and is outraged at the way her husband treated both women the author uses this quotation to describe her emotions “sweeping over both her feelings for herself, the wife and Gerta, his victim, came a new flood, which literally lifted her to her feet. ” At first the writer uses the image of water to show how overwhelmed Mrs Marroner is feeling though when she begins to regain her sense of calm and begins to think in a rational manner the water which “flood” of water which “lifted her to her feet. she this time however does not feel overwhelmed and perhaps more liberated because she decided to go against what society expects of her.
This enables us to understand her emotions because they appear to be reflected in the water. From her reaction to the water where at first she finds it frightening to the end were she learns how to deal with it shows us how she has matured as a person throughout the story. Mrs Marroner’s character is contrasted with that of Gerta’s. Gerta is described as being “grandly built and strong” though being strong she is only “an ignorant child, with a child’s weaknesses.
This is contrasted with Mrs Marroner who has had a life of training which instructs how a woman of her status should behave and is “calm, steady. ” The descriptions show us who is the stronger willed woman in the story despite their physical appearances may suggest otherwise.The use of physical description is also apparent in “The Necklace”. Here the writer wants to convey the change in Madame Loisel. At the beginning of the story Turned Madame Loisel is described as “elegant and graceful; smiling and vivacious. This is contrasted with “strong, hard and coarse. ” to show the change in Madame Loisel at the end of the story after she has paid her debt.
When Madame Loisel meets her friend Madame Forestier in the park after her debt has been paid off she is extremely proud of the fact that she worked so hard to pay off for the debt of the diamond necklace.Though there is a twist in the story when Madame Forestier reveals that the necklace she lent her was “paste. It was worth five hundred francs at most… this succeeds in shocking both the reader and Madame Loisel because this was not what we were expecting and conveys the moral that riches do not always guarantee happiness.
This like “Turned” shows us two characters that are contrasting. Madame Forestier though being the richer of the two is willing to compromise on the jewellery she wears whereas Madame Loisel assumes that the finer things in life have to be expensive. In the vendetta we are told that Widow Saverini “sat all day long at her window and gazed at the village, dreaming of her vengeance.
This shows the reader how strongly determined she is to have her vengeance.This is very similar to “The Necklace” because Madame Loisel also spends most of her days sat dreaming of a finer life and when she has to pay her debt she also has the same fierce determination that Widow Saverini appears to have. We are also told that Widow Saverini did not “sleep at night; she had no rest, no peace of mind obstinately determined to find a way. ” at the end of the story when the widow has found her way for vengeance and successfully killed her sons murderer we are told “that night she slept soundly.This like the other stories has a very surprising ending because we do not expect this kind of cruel act to be committed by an elderly woman who also appears to have a guilt free conscience. The stories all use the third person narrator which allows the reader to see all views and includes a balance of views by showing it from a neutral position. This enables the reader to make their own judgements about the characters.
There are vast differences between the characters of the women and the situations they find them selves in.Though they all similarly are very determined and strong willed in order to gain what they want to achieve. Mrs Marroner remains strong willed in order to do the greater good and acts against what is expected of a woman of her status. Madame Loisel can also be viewed as strong willed because of her determination to pay off her debt though how strong willed she is can be questioned because unlike Mrs Marroner she placed herself in the situation because of her own obsession with material goods.
Widow Saverini again maybe viewed as having strong will through her determination to kill her son’s murder though you can argue that it would have taken a much stronger will to let justice take its course. I think that Mrs Marroner is the strongest willed of all the women because she unlike the other characters reacts in a moral and right way to resolve the situation that her husband placed her in.