To gain insight into the development of literary
To analyze authors’ uses of literary methods to
To see how literary works compare thematically
To realize the perspectives that authors take to
establish a theme
To appreciate the complex nature of literature
Focus on theme comparison
The most common and often most meaningful
Read the two pieces of literature and brainstorm
a number of ideas about themes for each
Compare your list of theme ideas and find one
that is similar and works for both.
Articulate that theme in a way that it goes with
each work to be compared.
Example comparison of Kate Chopin’s
“Story of an Hour” and Gilman’s “The Yellow
Make a list of possible themes for
The Story of an Hour
Oppression of a wife
Mortality as no one knows when a
loved one will die
Relationship issues between
husband and wife
Gender comparison as the wife is
known only by her husband’s name
and lives only in light of him
The Yellow Wallpaper
Subordination of the woman in her
Importance of freedom to express
Madness as a response to
Choose some commonality from the
From our list, we have several possibilities, so we can choose one of them
and shape it into a statement about the common theme for both stories.
Kate Chopin in her “The Story of an Hour” and Charlotte Perkins Gilman in
her “The Yellow Wallpaper” explore the problems that married women
have in asserting their independence.
OR Kate Chopin in her “The Story of an Hour” and Charlotte Perkins Gilman
in her “The Yellow Wallpaper” show how the oppression of women in
marriage can lead to disastrous consequences
OR some other phrasing that would work for discussion.
Choose a comparative element for
Brainstorm some approaches that the authors take in their stories to give
Both of them use symbol to show the problem that the women encounter.
The symbols are different and used in different ways to establish the theme.
Chopin’s story uses the heart trouble and the mallard duck as symbols. The
duck is a symbol of male oppression as the woman is only known in her
The physical heart trouble symbolizes the emotional heart trouble for an
unfulfilling and oppressed life.
Gilman uses the yellow wallpaper to symbolize a number of things but it
shows the confinement the woman has at the hands of her husband.
Expand the thesis to include the
Kate Chopin in her “The Story of an Hour” and
Charlotte Perkins Gilman in her “The Yellow
Wallpaper” use symbols in different ways to
show how the oppression of women in marriage
can lead to disastrous consequences.
Write an outline for the essay
A. Hook: Provide an interesting sentence to draw us into the analysis. Perhaps a
general statement about the fate of women dominated by their husbands or the
injustice of men oppressing women in marriage.
II. Chopin’s theme and use of symbol
A. Use the story and quotes from it to show the theme.
B. Explain her use of symbol and how that connects to showing the theme
C. Provide a transition to connect this story and its comparison of theme and
symbol to the Gilman story.
III. Gilman’s theme and use of symbol connected to Chopin’s
A Use quotes from the story to establish Gilman’s theme
B. Compare her theme with Chopin’s with discussion and explanation.
C. Provide a transition to explore Gilman’s use of symbol
D. Use quotes from the story to show and explain Gilman’s use of symbol
E. Compare Gilman’s use of symbol to Chopin’s as you link both to the
Comments on contrast
A. Provide a transition that links to the contrasting elements of the
use of symbol
B. Provide discussion about the different uses of symbol and
perhaps some on the slight variation of theme
Wrap up the essay restating the main emphasis on theme and the
use of symbol.
Variations in approach
The previous slides showed one approach to the essay.
There can be some variety of approach.
One could discuss both stories themes one after the other, then both stories
use of symbols one after the other, then provide a bridge to compare the
themes and symbols connecting them to one another.
The important thing is to provide a meaningful and focused point for the
Develop a comparative element or two to discuss in the authors’
Organize in a logical way providing transitions to help the reader follow the