Although Ellen and Louise have different economic circumstances, both are victims of the patriarchal marriage endorsed by society. Their marriages result in Ellen and Louise’s tragic endings: while Louise loses her life, Ellen loses both her sanity and her baby. The aspects of the patriarchal marriages that cause Ellen and Louise’s demise are made explicit through the layout of Ellen and Louise’s houses, which emphasizes their current financial status and the expectations underlying their positions in society; and the scene outside their windows, which symbolically represent their feelings within their marriages.
Even though Louise experiences less freedom in her marriage than Ellen because of the economic disparity between them, both
…show more content…
Ellen’s simple and sparsely furnished house explicitly implies her poverty. Even though Ellen is less bound by societal laws than Louise, she is still trapped in her patriarchal marriage; her house, then, is a concrete symbol for her feelings of entrapment within her marriage. Even though Ellen can stand in the “middle of the room” (156), she is only able to do so because no one is present to see her. She is trapped in the house, and unable to leave to assure herself of her husband’s safety. Her inability to open her door, so that she might make sure of her husband’s safety, signifies the abstract prison bars over hr patriarchal marriage. The feeling of prison cell is intensified through the window, which cruelly shows Ellen the outside world that she is forbidden from entering.
The scene outside Louise and Ellen’s open windows symbolizes the women’s inner thoughts, and is a part of their tragic endings. Once Louise is told of her husband’s death, she weeps with “wild abandonment” (95), despite her confusion about her feelings for him: “and yet she had loved him- sometimes. Often she had not” (96). Because she is unsure of her feelings for her husband, Louise attempts to stop the hope that she starts to feel. Her attempts to control her thoughts and emotions fail, however, as she views the scene from outside her window: … The tops of trees … were all aquiver with the new spring life. The delicious