Characters Discussed

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Vandyck (Van) Jennings

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Vandyck (Van) Jennings, a young sociologist and chronicler of the Herlandean adventures. A scientist and linguist, he maintains an open mind and objectivity toward the all-female country he and his two friends discover. The most levelheaded of the three explorers, he is better able to observe and interpret their situation than are the others. He is eager to learn the language and willing to accept the education provided by his tutor, Somel; later, his relationship with Ellador, which begins as a comradely friendship, deepens into love. He enjoys sharing knowledge and experience with her. Although their views of marriage differ markedly, his respect for her as a person contributes to their successful union.

Terry O. Nicholson

Terry O. Nicholson, a wealthy young pilot, eager to explore and overconfident of his masculine charm. He is unable to accept a society without men or one in which women are equal; he expects a woman to relate to him. Fretting about confinement by the Herlandeans, he organizes an escape attempt and is humiliated to be recaptured by the women. Suave and masculine, he courts and marries Alima, still insisting that women enjoy being mastered, but his childish attempt to force her sexually results in failure and his divorce. He is expelled from Herland.

Jeff Margrave

Jeff Margrave, a young doctor, courteous and curious, interested in all the wonders of science. An opposite to Terry in his attitudes toward women, he is a romantic and an idealist, and he views women as akin to angels, needing protection. He is immediately captivated by the culture of Herland and is soon convinced of its superiority to his own. He worships Celis and what she represents, and he cheerfully accepts the conditions she sets for their marriage.


Ellador, a young woman of Herland, a forester with soft brown hair and eyes. She is logical, intelligent, and strong, and she also possesses the qualities developed in Herland’s women: compassion, tenderness, and a high regard for mothering. She accepts Vandyck as a companion, a friend, and finally a husband. Her naïve yet astute questions about life in the rest of the world elicit stark contrasts between Herland and elsewhere. Firmly convinced that sexual activity should occur only to produce children, she cleverly deflects Vandyck’s desires with an excess of comradeship.


Alima, another young forester in Herland. A blazing dark-eyed beauty, she is exceptionally strong and proud, as well as a shade more provocative and atavistically female than her friend Ellador. She is very much an individual, accustomed to independence and recognition as a person; consequently, her courtship with Terry is stormy and their marriage a disaster.


Celis, another young forester in Herland, described by Vandyck as a “blue-and-rose-and-gold person.” She is at first a little puzzled by Jeff’s enthusiastic devotion and desire to serve her, but she is capable enough to help him adjust to a Herlandean marriage. Her pregnancy brings great joy to them both. Their child is to be the first in Herland’s history to be conceived by a male and a female rather than parthenogenetically.


Somel, Vandyck’s tutor, a sweet, motherly woman and an excellent teacher. She answers Vandyck’s questions with candor and thoroughness, and they become good friends.


Moadine, Terry’s tutor, a big woman who is calm and friendly. Unfailingly polite, she responds to Terry’s rudeness and outbursts with pleasant laughter or grave acknowledgment.


Zava, Jeff’s tutor. Like the other tutors, she is friendly, wise, and motherly. Jeff declares that he loves Zava like a jolly aunt.


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The three men who visit Herland represent three distinct stances taken by men visa-vies women. While the attitudes of both Jeff Margrave and Van are more palatable than...

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Critical Essays