Interesting take on Utopia
Herland is an interesting take on what used to be a popular subject for books: male explorer stumbles upon the perfect society and describes his time there in detail. These stories are often just essays on what the author thinks we need to change in our society clumsily masquerading as a novel. In that sense, Herland is no different; however, Gilman provides a feminist view of this idea by having the protagonist stumble upon a society that is comprised of all women.
As a story, Herland is only okay, but you probably won’t read this for entertainment value; as said before, it’s really there for the criticism on patriarchal society. I particularly enjoyed what this story says about motherhood and our role as adults in being the guardians of the world and helping children find their own place in it. That was the strongest message in this book for me.
I also really liked the fact that the women live completely harmoniously with each other once men are removed. It’s a common joke for people to say that women don’t get along, but Gilman suggests that it’s men who are the problem. Once men are removed, women are completely happy and friendly with one another.
Overall, this has interesting ideas and it’s certainly worth a read, but you definitely have to be in the right mood for it. This isn’t the sort of book you wind down the day with to get your mind off the world. It’s meant to provoke thought, and for me, achieved its purpose.