Gilman, Charlotte Perkins (Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman 1860-1935
(Full name Charlotte Anna Perkins Stetson Gilman) American short story writer, novelist, and nonfiction writer.
The following entry presents an overview of Gilman's career. For further information on her life and works, see TCLC, Volumes 9 and 37.
Gilman was a prominent social activist and a leading theorist of the women's movement at the turn of the century. She examined the role of women in society and propounded her social theories in Women and Economics (1898) and other nonfiction works, while she depicted the realization of her feminist ideals in her novels and short stories. Gilman is best known today for her short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” (1892), in which she portrayed a young woman's mental breakdown.
Gilman was born in Hartford, Connecticut, to Frederick Beecher Perkins, a noted librarian and magazine editor, and his wife, Mary Fritch Perkins. Although Gilman's father frequently left the family for long periods during her childhood and ultimately divorced his wife in 1869, he directed Gilman's early education, emphasizing study in the sciences and history. During his absences, Perkins left his wife and children with his relatives, thus bringing Gilman into contact with her independent and reform-minded great-aunts: Harriet Beecher Stowe, the abolitionist and author of Uncle Tom's Cabin; Catherine Beecher, the prominent advocate of “domestic feminism”; and Isabella Beecher Hooker, an ardent suffragist. Their influence, along with the example of her own mother's self-reliance, were instrumental in developing Gilman's feminist convictions and desire to effect social reform. At twenty-four, Gilman married Charles Walter Stetson. Following the birth of their daughter in 1884, Gilman suffered from severe depression. She consulted the noted neurologist S. Weir Mitchell, who prescribed his “rest cure”: complete bed rest and limited intellectual activity. Gilman credited this experience with driving her “so near the borderline of utter mental ruin that [she] could see over.” She removed herself from Mitchell's care, and later, attributing her emotional problems in part to the confines of marriage, she left her husband and moved to California, where she helped edit feminist publications, assisted in the planning of the California Women's Congresses of 1894 and 1895, and was instrumental in founding the Women's Peace Party. She spent several years lecturing in the United States and England on women's rights and on labor reform, and in 1898 published Women and Economics. In 1900 Gilman married George Houghton Gilman, who was supportive of her intense involvement in social reform. From 1909 through 1916, Gilman published a monthly journal, The Forerunner, for which she wrote nearly all of the copy. As a vehicle for advancing social awareness, The Forerunner has been called her “single greatest achievement.” In 1935, having learned that she suffered from inoperable cancer, Gilman took her life, writing in a final note that “when one is assured of unavoidable and imminent death, it is the simplest of human rights to choose a quick and easy death in place of a slow and horrible one.”
Gilman's best-known nonfiction work, Women and Economics, had its origin in her studies of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution and the writings of Lester Frank Ward, who maintained that “the elevation of woman is the only sure road to the elevation of man.” She argued that women's secondary status in society, and especially women's economic dependence on men, is not the result of biological inferiority, but rather of culturally enforced behavior. In questioning whether or not there were fundamental differences in potential between the sexes, Gilman was not expressing new ideas. However, Carl N. Degler has noted that “no one in her lifetime focused the arguments so sharply and stated them so cogently and lucidly as she did.” In other nonfiction works, including Concerning Children (1900), Human Work (1904), and The Man-Made World (1911), Gilman suggested that women should work outside of the home, fully using their talents for the benefit of society and for their own satisfaction. She proposed removing from the home such duties as cooking, laundry, and child care by arranging households in clusters of single-family dwellings or multi-family buildings with professionals in charge of domestic tasks.
In her fiction Gilman portrayed women struggling to achieve self-sufficiency or adapting to new-found independence. Gilman declared that she wrote fiction primarily to illustrate her social ideas, and many critics consider her stories and novels stylistically unimaginative. Her short stories frequently provide models showing women how to change their lives or redesign society, while her last three fictional works, Moving the Mountain (1911), Herland (1915), and With Her in Ourland (1916), are utopian novels depicting worlds in which attitudes towards women and their abilities have radically changed. Critics find that despite her shortcomings as a fiction writer, Gilman used satire deftly in Herland, challenging accepted images of women by describing the reactions of three American males who enter Herland, an all-female society that reproduces through parthenogenesis. “The Yellow Wallpaper,” Gilman's best work of fiction, is also her least typical. Rather than an optimistic vision of what women can achieve, the story is a first-person account of a young mother's mental deterioration, based on Gilman's own experiences. Although early reviewers interpreted “The Yellow Wallpaper” as either a horror story or a case study in psychosis, most modern critics see it as a feminist indictment of society's subjugation of women and praise its compelling characterization, complex symbolism, and thematic depth.
With the changes in American society since World War I, Gilman's economic theories have appeared increasingly less radical and have therefore attracted less notice. However, as women's roles continue to evolve, her sociological studies and her suggestions for nontraditional housekeeping and child care arrangements gain in significance. Many modern feminist nonfiction works reflect the influence of Gilman's ideas, and readers are rediscovering in her thought much that is relevant to contemporary problems.
In This Our World [as Charlotte Perkins Stetson] (poetry) 1893
Women and Economics: A Study of the Economic Relation between Men and Women as a Factor in Social Evolution (nonfiction) 1898
*The Yellow Wallpaper (novella) 1899
Concerning Children (nonfiction) 1900
The Home: Its Work and Influence (nonfiction) 1903
Human Work (nonfiction) 1904
The Punishment That Educates (nonfiction) 1907
Women and Social Service (nonfiction) 1907
†What Diantha Did (novel) 1909
The Crux (novel) 1911
The Man-Made World; or, Our Androcentric Culture (nonfiction) 1911
Moving the Mountain (novel) 1911
†Benigna Machiavelli (novel) 1914
†Herland (novel) 1915
†With Her in Ourland (novel) 1916
His Religion and Hers: A Study of the Faith of Our Fathers and the Work of Our Mothers (nonfiction) 1923
The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (autobiography) 1935
The Charlotte Perkins Gilman Reader (short stories and novel excerpts) 1980
The Diaries of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (diaries) 1994
A Journey from...
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SOURCE: “Gilman's ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’: A Centenary,” in Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Woman and Her Work, edited by Sheryl L. Meyering, UMI Research Press, 1989, pp. 51-64.
[In the following essay, Wagner-Martin examines the relevance of “The Yellow Wallpaper” to the experience of contemporary motherhood.]
A friend is dead.
We cannot discount pain but the least bearable pain is the husband's cry of anger: You cannot die. I need you. The children need you. Your duty is to us.
The answer to that is silence.
—Written by the author for a friend who died at the age of 39.
It seems no accident that important recent novels have been Toni Morrison's Beloved, about the power of a sacrificed child over her mourning mother's life, and Marilyn French's Her Mother's Daughter, a major fiction about four generations of women, linked together in their martyred and futile lives through the mother-daughter bond. For at least these hundred years, since Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote her controversial and relentlessly accurate “The Yellow Wallpaper,” women writers have confronted the basic conflicts of women's lives: how to be both a person and a wife and mother; how to live with...
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SOURCE: “Killing Patriarchy: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the Murder Mystery, and Post-Feminist Propaganda,” in Tulsa Studies in Women's Literature, Vol. 10, No. 2, fall, 1991, pp. 273-85.
[In the following essay, Robinson discusses Gilman's detective novel Unpunished as a political novel.]
In one of Nicole Hollander's delightful “Sylvia” cartoons, that dumpy, middle-aged standard bearer of feminist wisdom assigns a writing exercise: use the word “post-feminism” in a sentence. Sylvia's typically caustic paragraph-for-completion goes something like this: “The manuscript took me a lot longer than anticipated, and it was so late by the time I got it done that I had to rush it off post-feminism.”1 In this version, then, and with tongue very much in cheek, “post-feminism” is rather like Federal Express, a mode, if not a means, of communication.
Putting another spin on the joke, novelist Valerie Miner says that the term “post-feminism” always conjures up an image in her mind of a row of posts—say, telephone poles—each one with a dead book nailed to it.2 A book drawn from the experience and imagination of a woman. A feminist book. So “post-feminism” without Sylvia's grain of salt is noncommunication, communication blocked and suppressed.
Both characterizations are clearly meant to inspire a healthy skepticism...
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SOURCE: “Reproducing Utopia: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Herland,” in Studies in American Fiction, Vol. 20, No. 1, spring, 1992, pp. 1-16.
[In the following essay, Peyser argues against prevailing interpretations of Herland, claiming that “the imagination of utopia depends on the pre-existence of a utopian imagination.”]
According to the prevailing view of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland, the utopian novel suited the aims of a radical feminism by subverting the confinements of a realism dedicated to the representation of, and thus acquiescence to, a patriarchal order. Summing up this position, Susan Gubar argues that “women abused by the probable refuse it by imagining the possible in a revolutionary rejection of patriarchal culture;” “feminism imagines an alternative reality that is truly fantastic.”1 Along these lines, Herland is seen as a sanctuary for the imagination, a place the reader can visit in order to gain a vantage point outside the prevailing culture. As Christopher Wilson puts it, “Herland is conceived as a mythological Archimedian standing point.”2Herland itself may therefore be less of a prescriptive model than a prelude to a critique, a machine for dismantling popular prejudices with an eye to some future reconstruction. Critics who take this position underscore the importance of Gilman's humor, seeing it as...
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SOURCE: “Herland: Utopic in a Different Voice,” in Politics, Gender, and the Arts, edited by Ronald Dotterer and Susan Bowers, Selinsgrove: Susquehanna University Press, 1992, pp. 52-63.
[In the following essay, Doskow examines differences in Gilman's approach to the notion of utopia in Herland.]
From earliest times, humanity has longed for a perfect world, one in sharp contrast to whatever its particular surrounding reality happened to be. Such utopian longings are still prevalent, still written about in our literature, and still, as always, unrealized. Expressed in the story of the Garden of Eden or a lost golden age, in classic works such as Plato's Republic or More's Utopia, in nineteenth-century socialist visions or twentieth-century behaviorist ones, man's longing for the ideal has been seen through many eyes and taken many shapes. Yet, it has always been man's view; “man” used in the generic sense, of course, but unavoidably expressing the male perspective and carrying with it limitation in the sexual sense as well. Nowhere is this limitation more apparent than in the contrasting vision of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's feminist utopia, Herland. The differences in her approach and angle of vision underscore the lacunae in and one-sided development of the utopian literary tradition. These differences, moreover, correspond closely to what Carol Gilligan describes as a...
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SOURCE: “‘Begin Again!’: The Cutting Social Edge of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Gentle Religious Optimism,” in Critical Essays on Charlotte Perkins Gilman, edited by Joanne B. Karpinski, New York: G. K. Hall and Co., 1992, pp. 129-43.
[In the following essay, Kirkpatrick discusses Gilman's female-centered theology, locating the historical context for it in late-nineteenth-century romanticism.]
The religious mood of America has oscillated historically between deep despair over the depravity of the human condition and unbounded optimism about its potential for perfection. Charlotte Perkins Gilman's religious views can only be properly appreciated within the context of this historical oscillation. Writing her only sustained study of religion after the horrors of the First World War, she seems remarkably undaunted by the heavy blow that conflict struck at others' confidence that the human race was evolving steadily toward unfettered happiness. In the light of the postwar themes of despair and anxiety that characterized the neo-orthodox theologies of Karl Barth in Europe and Reinhold Niebuhr in America, Gilman's religion of optimism and confidence might appear naive and hopelessly unrealistic. At the same time, she lays the ground for contemporary feminism's realistic critique of older images of God, which effectively eliminated any notion of the divine as nurturing, compassionate, and relational, and...
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SOURCE: “Consider Her Ways: The Cultural Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Pragmatopian Stories, 1908-1913,” in Utopian and Science Fiction by Women: Worlds of Difference, edited by Jane L. Donawerth and Carol A. Kolmerten, Syracuse University Press, 1994, pp. 126-36.
[In the following essay, Kessler examines the ways several of Gilman's lesser-known short stories contribute to her overall canon of literature designed to effect social change.]
The utopian fiction of Charlotte Perkins Gilman takes on as its “cultural work” the demonstration that women are not confined to one traditional mode of being—wife/motherhood—but can fill as varied social roles as can male counterparts.1 Jane Tompkins in her introduction to Sensational Designs (1985) suggests that we can speak of the “cultural work” of texts as an “attempt to redefine the social order” (xi). Further, Tompkins argues that we should study novels and stories “because they offer powerful examples of the way culture thinks about itself, articulating and proposing solutions for the problems that shape a particular historical moment” (xi). Like her great-aunt Harriet Beecher Stowe, included in Tompkins's study, Gilman wrote “to win the belief and influence the behavior of the widest possible audience”: she had “designs upon her audiences, in the sense of wanting to make people think and act in a particular...
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SOURCE: “Lesbians and Virgins: The New Motherhood in Herland,” in Anticipations: Essays on Early Science Fiction and Its Precursors, edited by David Seed, Syracuse University Press, 1995, pp. 195-215.
[In the following essay, Gough discusses lesbianism as Gilman portrays it in Herland.]
We will be the New Mothers of a New World
—Charlotte Perkins Gilman
In her autobiography, Charlotte Perkins Gilman relates the significance that the realm of the imagination and fantasy had to her as a child: ‘Of all those childish years the most important step was this. I learned the use of a constructive imagination’.1 Not only did her ‘brain-building’ provide her with a sense of control which she lacked in her everyday life, closely regulated as it was by her mother, but it afforded an imaginary space for her ‘scheming to improve the world’, reflecting her precocious sense of social responsibility. But Gilman's utopian envisioning, which she shared with all who would listen, suffered an abrupt suppression at the age of thirteen when her mother decreed that she give it up:
Just thirteen. This had been my chief happiness for five years. It was by far the largest, most active part of my mind. I was called upon to close off the main building as it were and live in the ‘L’. No...
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SOURCE: “‘But One Expects That’: Charlotte Perkins Gilman's ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ and the Shifting Light of Scholarship,” in PMLA, Vol. 111, No. 1, January, 1996, pp. 52-65.
[In the following essay, Dock discusses the publication and critical history of “The Yellow Wallpaper.”]
In the two decades since the Feminist Press issued a slim volume containing a text of “The Yellow Wallpaper” with an afterword by Elaine R. Hedges, Charlotte Perkins Gilman's remarkable work has found a secure place in contemporary literary studies. Omitting “The Yellow Wallpaper” from an American literature anthology has become almost as unthinkable as leaving out “The Raven” or “Civil Disobedience.” The story appears not just in those weighty, two-volume collections of American literature but also in textbooks for courses in women's studies and genre studies and in dozens of introductory literature texts for undergraduates.1 It has been analyzed by literary historians of every stripe, although feminist critics still lead the way in championing Gilman's achievement.
By now, scholars have accumulated a wealth of information about Gilman's life in general and about “The Yellow Wallpaper” in particular. Some “facts” have become common knowledge as critics have built on one another's work. But those “facts” need reassessment as scholars increasingly acknowledge...
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SOURCE: “Of Metatexts, Metalanguages, and Possible Worlds: The Transformative Power of Metanarrative in C. P. Gilman's Later Short Fiction,” in American Literary Realism, Vol. 31, No. 1, fall, 1998, pp. 41-59.
[In the following essay, Cutter analyzes Gilman's stories about language.]
In The Man-Made World; or, Our Androcentric Culture [hereafter abbreviated as The Man-Made World] (1911) Charlotte Perkins Gilman articulates a feminist critique of language that interconnects women's oppression and the linguistic practices of a patriarchal society. On the grammatical level itself language reflects women's disempowered social status, as Gilman explains: “Even in the naming of other animals we have taken the male as the race type, and put on a special termination to indicate ‘his female,’ as in lion, lioness; leopard, leopardess; while all our human scheme of things rests on the same tacit assumption; man being held the human type; woman a sort of accompaniment and subordinate assistant, merely essential to the making of people.”1 Gilman argues that under the “androcentric” culture women have no social or linguistic identity outside of their grammatical relationship to man: “[Woman] has held always the place of a preposition in relation to man. She has been considered above him or below him, before him, behind him, beside him, a wholly relative...
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SOURCE: “Herstory in Hisland, History in Herland: Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Reconstruction of Gender and Language,” in Unruly Tongue: Identity and Voice in American Women's Writing, 1850-1930, University Press of Mississippi, 1999, pp. 111-40.
[In the following essay, Cutter discusses the feminist meaning of language in Gilman's fiction.]
Charlotte Perkins Gilman is best know for her semiautobiographical text, “The Yellow Wall-Paper” (1892), but she completed numerous other projects. For example, from 1909 to 1916 she published a magazine called the Forerunner. For each monthly issue, Gilman wrote a short story, a chapter of a serial novel, a chapter of a prose work, and miscellaneous essays, editorials, songs, and poems. In the first volume, she even authored the advertisements. Her humorously risqué endorsement of one product—Moore's Fountain Pen—can be used as a general illustration of the changing concerns of early-twentieth-century women writers. Gilman's advertisement describes a woman who wants to write but finds she has problems with her “pen”:
It is all very well for men, with vest pockets, to carry a sort of leather socket, or a metal clip that holds the pen to that pocket safely—so long as the man is vertical.
But women haven't vest pockets—and do not remain continuously...
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SOURCE: “Introduction to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Utopian Novels: Moving the Mountain, Herland, and With Her in Ourland,” in Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Utopian Novels, by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, edited and with an introduction by Minna Doskow, Madison and Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1999, pp. 9-29.
[In the following essay, Doskow provides an overview of Gilman's utopian novels.]
Charlotte Perkins Gilman concludes her autobiography with the statement, “The one predominant duty is to find one's work and do it, and I have striven mightily at that” (The Living of Charlotte Perkins Gilman [hereafter abbreviated as Living] 335). Recognized as a leading woman intellectual of her time, author of twelve books, numerous essays, poems, stories, journalist, editor, and tireless lecturer, Gilman saw her work as the fight for women's rights and social justice. Overcoming personal struggles, mental depression, lack of funds, and other obstacles, she did indeed strive mightily with mind, voice, and pen to bring her vision of an egalitarian society to the public gaze. Nowhere is that vision more vividly portrayed than in her utopian novels Moving the Mountain, [hereafter abbreviated as MM] Herland, [hereafter abbreviated as H] and With Her in Ourland that are brought together for the first time in this volume. The utopian realms...
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SOURCE: “The Intellectualism of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Evolutionary Perspectives on Race, Ethnicity, and Class,” in Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Optimist Reformer, edited by Jill Rudd and Val Gough, University of Iowa Press, 1999, pp. 16-41.
[In the following essay, Ganobcsik-Williams examines Gilman's seemingly elitist approach to social issues.]
As a social theorist Charlotte Perkins Gilman placed the issue of women's economic oppression at the center of her arguments for social reform. Scholarship on Gilman has not been abundant, but over the last forty years—and especially since the 1970s—critics have drawn attention to the influence of her gender-rooted economic theories both on the American feminist movement and on reformist social policy. As a feminist, I am inspired by this valuable scholarship. I have noticed, however, that while heralding Gilman's merits as a role model for feminists/social activists, critics (such as Degler, Doyle, Scharnhorst, Lane, and Ceplair) tend to mention—but not to deal in depth with—ideas in Gilman's work which can be perceived as racist, classist, and nativist.1 For instance, in a 1981 collection of her fiction, The Charlotte Perkins Gilman Reader, [hereafter abbreviated as Reader] editor Ann J. Lane chose not to include some passages “that are racist, chauvinist, and anti-Semitic” (xxx).
I follow Lane's...
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SOURCE: “‘But O My Heart’: The Private Poetry of Charlotte Perkins Gilman,” in Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Optimist Reformer, University of Iowa Press, 1999, pp. 267-84.
[In the following essay, Knight discusses what Gilman's private poetry reveals about her inner life.]
In 1894, a few months after Charlotte Perkins Stetson (Gilman) published her first volume of poetry, she received a congratulatory letter from William Dean Howells proclaiming her a “gifted prophetess.” “[The poems] are the wittiest and wisest things that have been written this many a long day and year,” Howells wrote. “You speak with a tongue like a two-edged sword. I rejoice in your gift … and wonder how much more you will do with it.”1 Howells didn't wonder for long. Second and third editions of the critically acclaimed volume quickly appeared, and over the course of her lifetime Gilman would publish nearly five hundred poems. Unapologetically didactic and designed to advance her social philosophies, Gilman's public poetry—much of which originally appeared in In This Our World and in her popular press magazine the Forerunner—is finally receiving scholarly attention. A second volume of verse, The Later Poetry of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which she was preparing for publication in the weeks before her death, was finally published in 1996.2 Many of the poems in...
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SOURCE: “Reconfiguring Vice: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Prostitution, and Frontier Sexual Contracts,” in Charlotte Perkins Gilman: Optimist Reformer, University of Iowa Press, 1999, pp. 173-99.
[In the following essay, Allen explores Gilman's response to the widespread prostitution in her time.]
Gilman abhorred prostitution:
Man … has insisted on maintaining another class of women, … subservient to his desires; a barren, mischievous unnatural relation, wholly aside from parental purposes, and absolutely injurious to society. … Many, under the old mistaken notion of what used to be called “the social necessity” of prostitution, will protest the idea of its extinction. … An intelligent and powerful womanhood will put an end to this indulgence of one sex at the expense of the other and to the injury of both. … One major cause of the decay of nations is “the social evil”—a thing wholly due to androcentric culture.
(Man-Made World, 246-259)
Like many feminists of her period, the author of Women and Economics critically analyzed the interface between the two key sexual contracts: marriage and prostitution.1 Arguably, her concerns with prostitution—the depth and intensity of that concern—remain “underread” in existing work on Gilman, for reasons worth exploring. The...
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SOURCE: “Charlotte Perkins Gilman and the Shadow of Racism,” in American Literary Realism, Vol. 32, No. 2 winter 2000, pp. 159-69.
[In the following essay, Knight traces instances of Gilman's racist and nativist opinions in her writing.]
During the summer of 1932, Charlotte Perkins Gilman took part in a pageant in Hartford, Connecticut, in which she played the role of her great aunt Harriet Beecher Stowe. “[I was] delighted to do it,” she wrote to daughter Katharine. “It was dead easy for me. I just arranged my hair with a chignon … [wore a] loose bandeaux down over my ears, and ‘acted natural.’”1 The pageant director was duly impressed; in a thank you note to Gilman, she remarked: “I cannot get over the feeling that I have presented a pageant in which Mrs. Stowe has taken a part. She has really been here in our midst and it seems almost as though we are withholding from you your due, so completely have you yielded [your] place to her.”2
Gilman was no doubt pleased by her ability to imitate Stowe, since she was immensely proud of her “Beecher blood.” As she remarked in her memoirs, “The immediate line I am really proud of is the Beecher family. … With the spread of the growing nation new thinkers appeared … making New England a seed-bed of progressive movements. … Into this moving world the Beechers swung forward.”3 She...
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SOURCE: “Restraining Order: The Imperialist Anti-Violence of Charlotte Perkins Gilman,” in Arizona Quarterly, Vol. 56, No. 2, summer, 2000, pp. 1-36.
[In the following essay, Carter-Sanborn argues that Gilman's feminist antiviolence in Herland models American imperial violence.]
Power is a familiar growth— Not foreign—not to be— Beside us like a bland Abyss In every company—
“You see, they had … no wars. They had … no kings, and no priests, and no aristocracies. They were sisters” (Herland 61). As sisters, the denizens of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's novel Herland ostensibly embody a utopia of non-violence, non-hierarchy, and, as a result, an unparalleled level of cultural fertility and social concord. It should not be surprising that Herland, which had not seen the light of day since its original 1915 publication in Gilman's self-produced magazine The Forerunner, was instantly canonized by Anglo-American feminists when a 1979 edition appeared. The novel helped to fulfill two of the central desires of second-wave feminism: utopian maps of worlds free from male violence and utopian chronologies of feminist mothers and daughters signaling the continuity of the feminist tradition.
But the topographies of Gilman's anti-violent agenda,...
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Lane, Ann J. To “Herland” and Beyond: The Life and Work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman. New York: Pantheon Books, 1990, 413 p.
Biography of Gilman that attempts to “understand her inner growth … through the major relationships that gave form to her personality.”
Bair, Barbara. “Double Discourse: Gilman, Sarton, and the Subversive Text.” In That Great Sanity: Critical Essays on May Sarton, edited by Susan Swartzlander and Marilyn R. Mumford, pp. 187-208. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1992.
Examines Gilman's “The Yellow Wallpaper” and May Sarton's novel As We Are Now as narratives with features that are “significantly paradigmatic of the basic tenets of theory predominant in feminist literary criticism of the 1970s, theory that stressed the oppression of women and the association of women's secondary status with pathology, deviance, or disease.”
Boone, Joseph Allen. “Centered Lives and Centric Structures in the Novel of Female Community: Counterpointing New Realities in Millennium Hall, Cranford, The Country of the Pointed Firs, and Herland.” In Tradition Counter Tradition: Love and the Form of Fiction, pp. 278-330. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987.
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