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Freedom and Enslavement in Literature

Freedom and enslavement are patterns adopted in the literature that rarely hinders the expressive manner of writers. The conventions that govern the presentation of works like poetry and anthology are not limited to one style or literary appreciation method. The writer moves beyond the unknown. A social world with no obligation, an arena where there is free emotional expression and limited enslavement. Three interesting pieces of art ‘The Yellow Wallpaper, ‘Snow’ ,‘Dying’ and chapter 16-20 of the novel ‘Moby Dick’ were written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville respectively show different experiences in humans that change their destiny. The literary method used to touch on the element of freedom and enslavement is the use of metaphorical symbols.

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Let us critically analyze ‘The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte. The unnamed narrator is suffering from a transitory nervous depression-related illness. The woman struggles to free herself from enslavement of a disease and men’s insensitivity in her own way. The writer highlights the effect of the wallpaper in the narrator’s room. Charlotte also shows how the husband’s insensitive nature renders the narrator enslaved. The obsession that the wallpaper creates with the narrator, gives room for a metaphorical image approach. The narrator is both enslaved by the wallpaper and his husband. The husband orders his wife to stay indoors, to stop writing and avoid her imaginations and obsessions about the wallpaper. The ailing woman subserviently obliges to this with no question. The yellow color, symbolizes the inferior position of women and the nature of the wallpaper which suggests male chauvinism. Women are enslaved by men, this affects her even more when she stays indoors and gapes at the tormenting wallpaper. The wallpaper rules her mind and gives strange dreams and mysterious imaginations. The amusement she develops in the wallpaper governs her every thought, dream, and decision. Her interest in writing shows how the narrator tries to find freedom and an avenue for self-expression. She might be caged in her room and chained by an illness but her mind wanders far. She boldly encounters terror and misty amusement in the yellow wallpaper. This postulates her as if she is insane. The paper on the wall instigates strange cult-like emotions in her and this makes her husband note a difference. Therefore, both the wallpaper and the husband enslave her. But she needs to set herself free! Her repressed self in the wallpaper makes her have the urge of writing papers that seek to set her free. The writer also is not enslaved in a low-profile style of language.

The use of the metaphors and imagery in the last part of the story, illustrates the freedom in language diction and artistic literary representation of themes in her story. The narrator comes to self-discovery at the end when she calls herself ‘I’ instead of the reflexive pronoun ‘myself. She does not want to go to Weir Mitchell, she had to improve! Her husband threatens to send her to Weir Mitchell, she fears this and opts to improve. We clearly see how the husband’s influence is great due to fear and generally the love she has for him. Charlotte uses the first-person narration of ‘I’ pronoun to show the optimism developed in the narrator contrary to insane attitude. The narrator undergoes dramatic identity, independent ability and gains power to free herself from the wrath that is haunting her. Lastly, the moonlight and the act of cutting the paper completely transform the narrator and artistically explain the subject matter of the story.

Robert’s poem ‘Snow’ is a very long interesting long poem drafted in speech form. The character Lett and Meserve tempts me to join their nouns and have ‘letmeserve’ as one word! The characters are literarily trapped in the snow, symbolizing cold and unbearable temptations that hardly fade away. Some try to involve the wife but to no avail. The poem has a lot of symbolic metaphors that send the intended theme to the audience. The snow has frozen the house and thus enslaves the occupants, keeping them indoors, they cannot move outside. They cannot move outside. Meserve shows a comparison of human reluctant way of not handling situations unless forced or freed by someone else, when he tells the story of a leaf and the wind. Meserve says that when one goes out, it is like going to the grave ‘six feet deep outside’ this symbolizes the enslavement of the snow. How one may die if he or she has contact with the chilly snow. The enslavement spreads to the negative attitude towards women. The telephone calls do not free them from the snow outside. Meserve observes one thought of freeing themselves in the “snow-storms rule’ that is a positive attitude should be developed towards any difficulty then smoothly one frees himself away.

Dying’ is a figurative poem by Emily Dickson. The persona in the poem is a woman and she is already dead! In this poem the theme of death is described using the symbol of a fly. The fly is symbolic in a weird way in that the fly is represented as death. Death enslaves her. The enslavement caused by the fly makes the woman unable to see, she cannot be assessed to light. The darkness blinds her and she cannot ‘see to see’ however this fly does not become powerful or and ends up in a buzz which later frees her. The speaker explains how she heard the buzz of a fly on her death bed. This is the beginning of enslavement. She allows the fly to deter her interest from the people around her bed and her interest in leaving good fortune to her siblings. By using various features of style like, irony and symbols the narrator has managed to show reality and idealism of innate feelings towards the subject matter.

The persona is dying in very horrific state but in a painless manner. Before she becomes less aware of her surrounding she is deterred by the ‘buzz’ of the fly. She is strongly waiting for death to take her smoothly, submitting to the freedom to live in free land in heaven. The symbolic nature of the fly is somewhat mysterious. In the third stanza, the main focus is on the life of the persona. She has a will, ‘I willed my Keepsakes’. Her positive qualities achieved during her lifetime, is the precious possessions she wishes to leave behind. Ironically, a fly intercepts this overwhelming session with the onomatopoeic ‘buzz’ a very irritating sound! Instead of a Godly interception, the devil shows up as a fly, what an irony. The persona does not free herself from the wrath of the fly. She is conscious of the sound of the fly but dead and helpless towards her various choices towards life in her flashback narration. However, death frees her from the tempting life on earth and gives her chance to proceed into eternity, thus freeing her.

The last stanza shares the messages brought by this fly that intervenes the persona and the light. The fly has ‘blue…stumbling buzz’ that gives the poor dying persona hope to ‘see to see’ as she dies. We clearly see how the poem characters are juxtaposed and bring the idea of death mysteriously yet metaphorically.

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Moby Dick’ narrates a story of a sea voyage written by Herman Melville. The novel at a glance shows the dark side of humans, the struggle to live, human weakness, fear, anger, mistrust, and how the characters have been enslaved in the sinful cocoons that need freedom. In chapters 16-20 we are introduced to Queequeg who is consulting on Yojo (an idol), on various sea vessels and three-year voyage as a clairvoyance tool. The writer intensively uses biblical allusion to show the enslavement of the people in relation to self prowess and stalking danger of untrustworthy friends. The whiteness of the whale is introduced here in a queer manner. Whiteness can symbolically be attributed to the profitable terms of the whale that has improved the economic status of the whaling industry. Thus, this quality of the whale is being sought after by the determined, sleazy, blasphemous, and untrustworthy sea crew. This obsession enslaves the crew. The obsession of Ishmael towards the whiteness of the whale is clearly shown in these chapters. In chapter 16 the Ahab is seen to be very tragic and only deserves sympathy. The enslavement of Ahab is the ungodly nature he portrays and the conflict he causes. This situation enslaves Ishmael and he needs to free himself from the ironic whiteness of the whale. The quest towards the whiteness of the whale is an activity that defies the rule of religion. Hence it is blasphemous. The obsession with hunting down the whale is the main enslavement. This whiteness is meaningless because ‘white’ is emptiness, no definite hue, hollow. The obsession of tracking down this animal is symbolic and gives the meaning of excellence and royalty. The only remedy for the freedom of their enslavement of the whiteness of the whale is the failure of the crew to track down the whale!

The choice of the four works of art has focused on self-discovery, freedom and enslavement. The freedom of literature has been seen where the writers have used figurative styles to explore the different themes in the essence of natural law in American Literature.

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