Education In Herland

1800 Words8 Pages
Education is the ‘highest art’ in Herland and has been the reason why the country has flourished. When the three male explorers are imprisoned by the Herlanders, their hair grows long, which Gilman does to symbolically link them to women kind. Throughout the novel, Gilman reverses the gender roles: 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.
In Herland, her all female utopian novel, Gilman suggested how society and education might be different if motherhood rather than manliness became the cultural ideal. In a land where neither the private home nor the nuclear family existed, the characteristics of love, service, ingenuity, and efficiency became the
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Moreover, she illuminated the imbalanced nature of the andocentric society and its disregard for the qualities of womanhood evident in citizenship. Accordingly, the existing male-dominated culture needed to be feminized; it needed to reevaluate social values and attitudes towards women and women's role within the economy and society at large. Education, for Gilman, was the most effective way to transform society, so the most effective way to feminize society was to feminize education. In comparing education for citizenship with education for motherhood, Gilman stressed social responsibility as central to…show more content…
Notably, the nuclear family is absent in the society of Herland. As Jennings observes, “They had no wars. They had no kings, no priests, no aristocracies. There were sisters, and as they grew, they grew together, not by competition, but by united action.” (79) Herland is not based on a vertical power structure of possession and domination. In her serious writing, Gilman describes this relationship as ‘masculinist’; characterized by the values of desire, combat, and self-expression. In Herland, Gilman echoes this theme. The second of the three male adventurers--Terry O. Nicholson--remarks that he finds this world of women an irritating and uncomfortable place, for it is a world without ... Love, Combat, and
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