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ENGL 224 90V If I Were A Man Charlotte Perkins Gilman Essay

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Snyman, 1
Marilee Snyman
Prof. Felix
ENGL 224-[90V]
Essay #1 Draft
31 May 2020
[Title]
“The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.” (qtd. in
Strowbridge, xiii). “If I Were A Man” is a short story written by author Charlotte Perkins
Gilman.The short story is about a housewife, Mollie, who despite being considered a “true
woman”, wishes in her heart that she was a man instead. The story follows where Mollie ends up
becoming her husband for a day, enabling her to see the world from a male perspective. While
the story is purely fictional, even a science fictional, seeing as how Mollie was able to invade her
husband’s consciousness, it is important to understand why this story is great. **Gilman wrote a
story where she excellently executed the literary elements, two of these elements being the point
of view the story is written in, and the themes of the story. Moreover, her story can be analyzed
with most of the lenses that can be found in Clarence C. Strowbridge collection of short stories in
the book “American Short Story Masterpieces”. Gilman’s story’s point of view, themes and lens
is the reason why it would be a valuable addition to Strowbridge’s anthology.
One of the elements that Author Gilman uses is point of view. Point of view can be
described as the perspective in which the story is being told, allowing us to better understand the
character/s in the story. In “If I Were A Man”, we read about Mollie being a man for a day after
she wished to become one. We follow her as she goes about the day in the body of her husband.
Gilman expertly helps her readers to live within the story by writing it in third-person

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omniscient, allowing us to see what not only Mollie, but also her husband is thinking. We notice
this when we read about how ,"If ever there was a true woman it was Mollie Mathewson, yet she
was wishing heart and soul she was a man." (Gilman). Here, we are reading about how Mollie
wishes to be a man, therefore we are reading about her innermost thoughts. Even though we
would be able to experience Mollie’s thoughts in first person, Gilman chose to write it in third-
person omniscient to help us to relate Mollie in her rather unusual experience. By writing the
story in third person, readers feel like they are a part of the story, but that they don’t really
belong there, same as Mollie, who doesn’t belong in her husband’s body. Furthermore, we do not
only get to experience Mollie’s feelings and thoughts, but also that of her husband. We read
about how he views women, but then we also learn about how his view of women changes
towards the end of the story. He explains that women are not to be blamed for all the wrong that
is in the world, but rather how men and women should be equally blamed, since men are the ones
that make the clothes, the hats and the money for women. Therefore, women don’t really have a
choice, seeing as how if she were to wear common clothes, no men would want to pay attention
to her. We realize that "...Gerald was vaguely conscious of new views, strange feelings..."
(Gilman). As the day progressed, Gerald’s perspective on women is also changing, along with
Mollie’s, since he believes that even if women were the start of evil, that men were the ones that
kept things from changing, allowing evil to be a part of the world. If Gilman chose to write the
story in a different perspective from that of third-person omniscient, we as readers would not
have been able to fully understand the story, since Mollie and Gerald’s opposing views and
thoughts - which changed later on - would not have been apparent to us.
Another element that Gilman uses is theme. Themes are central messages that the author
is trying to communicate through their work. There can be a main theme, but mostly, it’s any

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Snyman, 1 Marilee Snyman Prof. Felix ENGL 224-[90V] Essay #1 Draft 31 May 2020 [Title] “The only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.” (qtd. in Strowbridge, xiii). “If I Were A Man” is a short story written by author Charlotte Perkins Gilman.The short story is about a housewife, Mollie, who despite being considered a “true woman”, wishes in her heart that she was a man instead. The story follows where Mollie ends up becoming her husband for a day, enabling her to see the world from a male perspective. While the story is purely fictional, even a science fictional, seeing as how Mollie was able to invade her husband’s consciousness, it is important to understand why this story is great. **Gilman wrote a story where she excellently executed the literary elements, two of these elements being the point of view the story is written in, and the themes of the story. Moreover, her story can be analyzed with most of the lenses that can be found in Clarence C. Strowbridge collection of short stories in the book “American Short Story Masterpieces”. Gilman’s story’s point of view, themes and lens is the reason why it would be a valuable addition to Strowbridge’s anthology. One of the elements that Author Gilman uses is point of view. Point of view can be described as the perspective in which the story is being told, allowing us to better understand the character/s in the story. In “If I Were A Man”, we read about Mollie being a ...
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