Charlotte Perkins Gilman Questions and Answers

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In the story "If I Were a Man" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, how does her description of what constitutes a man's identity differ from that of a woman?

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In the short story "If I Were a Man" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, a married woman named Mollie Mathewson wishes "heart and soul" that she was a man, and she is suddenly transported into the body and mind of her husband Gerald. In assessing the differences between the identities of men and women in this story, it is important to remember that it was first published in 1914. What would be considered unacceptable stereotypes now were cultural norms then.

The story begins with a description of Mollie, who considers herself "true-to-type," that is, a perfect example of "a true woman." She is little, pretty, charming, subject to change, and enjoys nice clothes and looks good in them. She is also "a loving wife and a devoted mother" and takes care of her home with pride.

Further descriptions of women become evident when she is transformed into Gerald but retains her own awareness as well. For instance, women have no pockets in their clothes, no money of their own to spend, and they are deferred...

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