2) What was going on in the world in 1915 to which Gilman was responding?
3) Imbedded within Gilman's utopia is her critique of the role and place of women in Western cultures. What does Gilman see as the lot of women in her own society? How does that compare to the place of women in Herland?
4) According to Gilman, how did men outside of Herland gain control over women economically, socially, culturally, sexually? How did the women of Herland avoid that fate? Do you agree with Gilman's assessment of the origins of gender restrictions?
5) Gilman traces out the history of the development of relations between the sexes in Western culture and in Herland. What are these histories? How and why do they differ?
6) Explain how Gilman associates the basic concepts of Western culture which she sees as problems--such as "nationalism" and "patriotism"--with the culture of men. What were the counterbalancing positive traits women's culture provided, according to Gilman?
7) Is a narrative about race visible in Herland? What race are the women who live in Herland? Is there any racial difference? To what might you attribute Gilman's treatment of race?
8) In what ways is the "feminist utopia" of Herland feminist?
You can look at various student work on Charlotte Perkins Gilman, such as Jason Rivers's "A Brief Synopsis of the Life of Charlotte Perkins Gilman," or Meri Olson's "Life Influences in the Writing of The Yellow Wallpaper", or read student discussions of Gilman's work on the Yellow Wallpaper Discussion Forum.
Prepared by Professor Catherine Lavender for History 182 (Women's History and Feminist Theory), The Department of History, The College of Staten Island of The City University of New York. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Last modified: Tuesday 30 March 1999.