Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Short Stories as Social Criticism: Conflicts and Contradictions of a Nineteenth-Century Author

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This study offers an investigation of a selection of Gilman’s short stories in the light of her assertion that women do not have to give up love or work in order to succeed in life. Yet, as this study proves, the problem with this ideology is that although ‘both’ embodies two elements – love and work, there are in fact three factors operating within the equation – marriage, motherhood, and professional life.


“By taking us through a selection of Gilman’s still under-studied short stories and considering them alongside extracts from her non-fiction works, including her lectures, Sabanci offers examples of the insights available to readers who resists the speed and apparent simplicity of Gilman’s narratives ” ­- Prof. Jill Rudd, University of Liverpool

". . . [this book] highlights Gilman’s work as a rhetorician who defly employed generic conventions to a much greater degree than has generally been acknowledged. Rather than idealizing Gilman’s work, Sabanci lays bare the contradictions within Gilman’s social philosophy, using the short stories (and some of the lesser-known longer works) as a means to understand the meaning of Gilman’s paradoxes."- Prof. Jennifer S. Tuttle, University of New England

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Chronological Order
Chapter 1
Gilman’s Gothic Stories
Chapter 2
Marriage and Motherhood
2.1 The Crux: Sacrifice for Motherhood
2.2 Sex, Self and Parenting: The Rejection of Marriage as a Necessity
2.3 Social Parenting and Substitute Mothers
2.4 ‘You are not Fit to Marry Him!’: Gilman’s ‘Unnatural’ Experience of Marriage and Motherhood
Chapter 3
Married Life and Professional Life
3.1 Gilman’s Presentation of Her Conventional New Man
3.2 Men’s Share in Home Life
Chapter 4
Gilman’s Limited Career Options for Women
4.1 ‘Aunt Mary’s Pie Plant’
4.2 Family Duty: Social Duty
4.3 Work First, Love Next
Chapter 5
Gilman’s Genre Fiction
5.1 Fable
5.2 Detective
5.3 Gilman’s Narrative Style

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