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Masculine Physicians and Prescribers: Assignations for Women in Daisy Miller and “The Yellow Wall-paper”

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  1. Introduction
  2. The role of the male as physician and prescriber in 'The Yellow Wall-paper'
    1. His assurance that there is nothing wrong
    2. Her 'personal' disagreement with this prescriptions
  3. Daisy Miller' value for her independence
  4. Winterbourne's perception of Daisy's role
  5. Winterbourne travels to Italy and the learning of Diasy's 'vulgarity'
  6. Conclusion

Both Henry James' Daisy Miller and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's ?The Yellow Wall-paper? depict male characters that are unable to understand their female counter-points. In Daisy Miller, the suitor Winterbourne fails to comprehend Daisy's true character, and in ?The Yellow Wall-paper,? the husband John cannot understand his wife's ailment. In these stories, the two male characters attempt to remedy the respective female's ?problem.? In Daisy Miller Winterbourne attempts to culture Daisy by giving her advice and trying to tell her how to act and what to do, and in ?The Yellow Wall-paper? John attempts to cure the narrator's illness by containing her in a room and setting absolute rules for her to abide. The two works share a common theme: the men in these stories attempt to authoritatively impress their ideals and expectations on the women, but prove to be ultimately inadequate at prescribing solutions to the female ?problem.?

[...] Winterbourne has declared that he is speaking for Daisy, which implies that he thinks she is not capable of speaking for herself. There is an interesting contrast in the ways that line can be interpreted: for Winterbourne it is a very gallant and masculine thing to say, but for Daisy, it is a very domineering and negative thing, which strips her of her independence. Perhaps this is the Winterbourne that Daisy would be stuck with if the two were to marry. A lack of independence and a loss of self are the plight of the domesticated woman, as depicted [...]

[...] At many points in the story, he perceives her actions and intimations as fickle, and thus cannot determine her personality and integrity?when Daisy seems insincere to him while discussing a boating trip to Chillon, for example (481). In any case, his ?formula? is an attempt to simplify and label Daisy, and Winterbourne begins to mold Daisy as he sees fit. For if she is simply a ?pretty American flirt,? than she could be fashioned?in his image?as a more formal, europeanized lady. [...]

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