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Herland

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Contents

Key Facts

title ·  Herland

author · Charlotte Perkins Gilman

type of work · Novel

genre · Utopian fiction

language · English

time and place written · 1915, California

date of first publication · 1915

publisher ·  The Forerunner (Gilman’s magazine)

narrator · Vandyck Jennings, one of the three men who discover Herland

point of view · First person

tone · Politically earnest, with elements of humor and satire

tense · Past

setting (time) · Early twentieth century

setting (place) · A hidden plateau, somewhere in the unexplored tropics, where an all-female society has been thriving in isolation

protagonist · Vandyck Jennings, a sociologist and amateur explorer

major conflict · The struggle of Van and his friends Jeff and Terry to come to terms with the society of Herland, which challenges their sense of identity and their understanding of relations between the sexes

rising action · From the entry of the three men into Herland through their education and their deepening relationships with Ellador, Celis, and Alima

climax · Terry’s thwarted assault on Alima

falling action · The subsequent division of the group, and the departure of Terry, Van, and Ellador

themes · The subduing of women’s humanity; the rationalism of Herland’s society; the rejection of tradition; the sanctity of motherhood

motifs · Embarrassing contrasts; female physical prowess

symbols · The well-tended forests; Herlandian clothes

foreshadowing · Van drops several hints about Terry’s final explosion and the ugly end of their stay in Herland throughout the story.

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