Essay on Herland
Posted by admin as Sample papers
Sample Essay on “Herland”
“Herland”, a novel by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a great training aid for the man to understand the women’s psychology. By creating an artificial society of women who dwelled without the representatives of the opposite sex, the author made an attempt to show the women without the coverings of expectations the paternal society had always had of them. In the 19th century society women were only a reflection of what was desired to be found in them by their fathers, brothers and husbands. That was clearly displayed by the protagonist of the story, Vandyck. Marveling on the absence of femininity, as the characters saw it, he came to the conclusion that femininity, so valued by his friend Terry, is just the reflection of masculinity in women. Thus, the main purpose this novel serves is to give all the readers an opportunity to have a virtual trip to the place where both women and men are valued for what they are and what they do, and not for coinciding with the image or fulfilling the expectations the surroundings have of him or her.
Regardless of all the evidence the author gives to prove the superiority of the maternal society over the paternal one, the novel doesn’t seem to be condescending to men. It’s a proven fact that man are more likely to agree with the hypothesis in case they’re given practical evidence of it. The 19th century men needed to understand that women were the creatures that had a right to possess the same rights and freedoms the man had. At that time the main arguments used to deny “the weak sex” of the possibility to decide for themselves, were that women were unable to take care of their business without the help of the cleverer, stronger and more experienced beings. Charlotte Perkins Gilman used her writing skills to convince men that reason was invalid, as women could construct a society much more effective and outright than the men had. Thus, “Herland” is not at all condescending to men, it’s just a try to assure them in the equality of two sexes using the arguments man understand better.
It’s presumable that male readers weren’t the only ones Gilman had in her mind. Of course she put a lot of efforts to display the women’s ability to live independently, but this notion was intended not only for the men to grasp it, but also for women, who at those times often questioned it. Many of them from the early childhood were taught to think of men as of some extraordinary superior creatures that were in charge of everything, including women and their lives. Females weren’t taught to decide for themselves and to deal with the consequence of those decisions.
Moreover, the desire to change something in one’s life without the father’s, brother’s or husband’s approval was often considered to be obscene and even felonious for the women of higher class. Of course, women from lower classes who had to work in order to support themselves and their families weren’t so dependant on males, but their example wasn’t to be followed by the richer women. The authoress depicted independent and self-sufficient position of the Herland women, and moreover, their conviction that this position was proper and the only possible, to assure her contemporaries in the females equality to the males.
Charlotte Gilman put a lot of efforts to make women’s psychology how she saw it understandable to men, to make life easier for them and their mothers, sisters, girlfriends and wives. She tried to unravel the place of maternity in the women’s life, in the same time explaining how women themselves saw this notion. Till the present time lots of men presume maternity to be the pure fact of having kids and taking immediate care of them, neglecting the fact that except for the clean napkins and proper nutrition mothers also feel they are responsible for making the world around a good place for all the children to grow and dwell in.
The authoress paid a lot of attention to explaining to the readers the benefits of women being on power. Females are not aggressive by their nature, that’s why, in Gilman’s opinion, they would make great rulers.
Charlotte Gilman also tried to demolish the common belief of women being quarrelsome and capricious. Women in the society she created treated each other like sisters; they didn’t have conflicts or misunderstandings. According to the authoress opinion, the stronger sex creates the main reasons for the conflicts, and without them women would build a society free of those.
One of the main things the authoress tries to display is the peaceable nature of women. We see no signs of wars or conflicts in the society displayed, all the members of it cooperate and take care of each other.
A hypothesis given by the author, the one that was intensively denied by males, is that women tend to be free and to decide for themselves. The conversation between the protagonists, Alima and Ellador that takes place in the 9th chapter displays it clearly. The girls couldn’t understand why the married women in the “outer world” had to stay home and “take care of the home and the children”. This was in their opinion too little to do, comparing to the education they got and tasks they performed.
The protagonists of the story, Vandyck, Jeff and Terry represent the typical image of the 19th century male USA dweller. They were considered to be self-confident, educated, gallant and often aggressive. Men at those times were expected to see woman as a trophy, the prize for the winner of the social contest for her attention and special attitude. The men were expected to treat women as if they were weak and simple-minded, in need for the care and protection.
In her novel Gilman tried to reveal and explain various features women have, both to the men and women. To accomplish this task she went through a trying work of creating an artificial society with all the attributes of the real one. In my opinion, she succeeded.