- Herland (novel)
infobox Book |
name = Herland
image_caption = Recent paperback edition by "Signet"
Charlotte Perkins Gilman
language = English
genre = Utopian,
The Forerunner(serial) & Pantheon Books(in book form)
release_date = 1915 (in serial) & 1979 (in book form)
media_type = Print (Hardback &
pages = 147 pp (first edition, hardback)
isbn = NA & ISBN 0-394-50388-0 (first edition, hardback)
"Herland" is a
utopiannovel from 1915, written by feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The book describes an isolated society composed entirely of Aryanwomen who reproduce via parthenogenesis(asexual reproduction). The result is an ideal social order, free of war, conflict and domination. It first appeared as a serial in Perkins' monthly magazine "Forerunner". Gilman followed Herland with a sequel, " With Her in Ourland".
"Herland" was written in 1915 and originally published as a serial in "The Forerunner", a magazine edited and written by Perkins between 1909 and 1916. It was not published in book form until 1979.
The early decades of the twentieth century were a time when women were fighting for equal rights, and the novel's core message is that of
social reform. The utopian nation of Herland is used as a symbol to show the capabilities, greatness, and potential of womankind and, just as the three male leads (Jeff, Van and Terry), the reader by the novel's end realizes that women are not inferior to their male counterparts. All three of the male characters learn over time that Herland greatly surpasses their own male-built civilization. It is void of poverty, war, and even garbage. At first, all three men are suspicious of Herland and its women, and think they will find a society wracked by chaos and disorder, since they believe that women are not intelligent and organized, or capable of surviving without their male-halves. Jeff, Van, and Terry, then, represent the achievements of our civilization, which has been constructed and defined by men, and is therefore imperfect, full of suffering, war, disease, and other terrible atrocities. The fact that the female inhabitants of Herland can reproduce asexually, and that their utopia far surpasses anything men have built, satirizes the male gender by implying that women do not really need men, and that they can do everything men can do, perhaps even better. At the novel's end, Jeff and Van do not want to leave this perfect utopia for their own male-constructed civilization, and even seem repulsed with where they have come from. These two characters grow to realize that Herland is an ideal place, and, because they deride their own civilization, it implies that womanhood is greater than manhood (this, however, does not mean that Gilman herself believes that women are in every way better than men, simply that, to make her statement of social reform in favor of women, she must present them in as favorable a light as possible).
The three men take wives in Herland, and conflict between the partners develops regarding
sexual intercourse. The women feel that its only purpose is procreation, while the men all advocate recreational sexto some extent. Jeff and Van overcome these difficulties, and the former conceives a child with his wife. However, Terry's overly dominant personality leads to an attempted rapeof his partner, which causes him to be banished. Van and his wife, Ellador, leave with Terry on their seaplane, because the vehicle needs two to operate, and because Ellador wants to evaluate the 'modern world' firsthand. The book concludes without revealing Ellador's future experiences.
It is interesting to note that, if seen from a traditional point of view, Jeff and Terry are each at different "ends" of the male gender. According to the stereotype, Jeff behaves in a "female" way at times. He is soft, acquiescent, and unafraid to show his emotions. Terry has an instinct to dominate (hence his attempt at rape), which, by many, is seen as a male character trait even today. The protagonist, Van, however, does not display any stereotypically sexual traits, but functions as a more or less neutral observer of the proceedings around him. Because of his position as a
sociologist, Van is in a position where he can accept new ideas and critically evaluate ideas that might not match with his world view, more so than his two companions. It should be noted, though, that Herland is written as a polemic; Gilman's intent was to persuade, and therefore Van's job was not to really critically evaluate new ideas, but to accept them wholeheartedly, even to convince the audience that Herland was indeed a Utopia. Through Van's veneer of impartiality, Van functioned as the ideal narrator, supposedly developing insight into the women while retaining his male position.
genderand defining it is a central theme in "Herland", and Gilman seems to be saying that gender is socially constructed rather than something definitive and unchangeable. For instance, the women of Herland are loving mothers, yet are also strong, independent, and, in some ways, have masculine qualities, such as having short hair. Jeff is in some ways feminine, as stated before, and out of the three male leads, seems least afraid of speaking his mind and showing his feelings. It is not unintentional that, when the three male characters are imprisoned by the Herlanders, their hair grows long, which Gilman does to symbolically link them to women kind. Gender reversal is used throughout the novel: the women have short hair, the men have long hair; the women teach while the men learn; the women are physically stronger than the men, etc.
Because "Herland" depicts Aryan separatism as a component of Gilman's ideal society, it has been characterized by somewho as a work of
racism. Also, since her arguments are not always well-defined and her portrayal of the men in the story is slanted, it has been characterized by somewho as a work of sexism, perhaps even of misandry.
* [http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/GilHerl.html Herland Electronic Text]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Herland — may refer to: * Doug Herland, 1984 Olympic Bronze Medalist (Rowing). * Herland (novel), 1915 utopian novel by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. * Hærland, a village in Eidsberg, Norway … Wikipedia
Moving the Mountain (novel) — Moving the Mountain Author(s) Charlotte Perkins Gilman … Wikipedia
Y: The Last Man — «Y: The Last Man» … Википедия
Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction — Part of a series on Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction … Wikipedia
Charlotte Perkins Gilman — Born July 3, 1860(1860 07 03) Hartford, Connecticut Died August 17, 1935 … Wikipedia
List of fictional countries — is a list of fictional countries from published works of fiction (books, films, television series, etc.). Fictional works describe all the countries in the following list as located somewhere on the surface of the Earth as we know it mdash; as… … Wikipedia
List of fictional countries by region — This list of fictional countries groups imagined nations together by the region of the world in which they are supposed to be located.Africa: See Fictional African countries .Americas: See Fictional American countries .Australia*BabaKiueria: a… … Wikipedia
World of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen — The world of The League of Extraordinary Gentleman is a fictional universe created by Alan Moore in the comic book series The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen , where all of the characters and events from literature (and possibly the entirety of … Wikipedia
Utopian and dystopian fiction — The utopia and its offshoot, the dystopia, are genres of literature that explore social and political structures. Utopian fiction is the creation of an ideal world, or utopia, as the setting for a novel. Dystopian fiction is the opposite:… … Wikipedia
History of feminism — The history of feminism is the history of feminist movements and their efforts to overturn injustices of gender inequality. Feminist scholars have divided feminism s history into three waves . Humm, Maggie. 1995. The Dictionary of Feminist Theory … Wikipedia