“If I Were a Man” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “If I Were a Man” she successfully shows the subconscious thinking of a young woman who wishes with her heart and soul she would become a man. The story is based on a young woman named Mollie Mathewson, who ends up becoming her husband due to her wishes to be a man. She then goes throughout the day as her husband, Gerald. “She was Gerald, walking down the path so erect and square-shouldered, in a hurry for his morning train, as usual, and, it must be confessed, in something of a temper” (Gilman 50).

Gilman successfully brings this story to life by taking a third-person limited omniscient point of view, which allows us to see inside her innermost thoughts. Mollie Mathewson longs to be a man, because at this time men have all the power and pride women don’t. She is envious of all the things men can have.

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“She felt what she had never felt before in all her life-the possession of money, of her own earned money-hers to give or to withhold, not to beg for, tease for, wheedle for-hers” (Gilman 51).

For the first time in her life she gets to see what its like to have money that she does not have to share with anyone else. Men get to make the money while women stay home and take care of things around the house. Mollie now gets to experience life outside the house, and she also gets to feel what it’s like to not have to report to anyone. She is her own person now. During her day as Gerald she begins to take on his thoughts. She begins to think about women’s fashion and business sense. She particularly starts to dislike women’s hats.

With the eyes of a man and the brain of a man; with the memory of a whole lifetime of free action wherein the hat, close-fitting on cropped hair, had been no handicap; now she perceived the hats of women” (Gilman 52). It’s interesting the way Mollie is taking on her husband’s thoughts. The reader would never think Mollie would think of women’s hats this way. The reader would think in spite of her being a man she would still think like a woman. On the train to work Mollie comes across a few men that Gerald rides the morning train with, and they begin having a biased discussion about women, that Mollie takes part in it.

They talk about how women get whatever they want once they’ve got their mind made up and how men are smarter than women. Suddenly Mollie tells the men it’s time to wake up. She explains that women are pretty much the same as they are. Men and women are both people. Another thing Mollie said that is the most important quote of the story is, “As for Mother Eve-I wasn’t there and can’t deny the story, but I will say this. If she brought evil into the world, we men have had the lion’s share of keeping it going ever since-how about that? ” (Gilman 55).

Gilman shows men blame women for the way the world is, but it is both men and women who should equally be blamed for what goes on in the world. In the story the reader gets a feel for what Mollie is experiencing during her day as her husband Gerald. Charlotte Perkins Gilman does an amazing job getting her point across using the third-person limited omniscient point of view. At the end of the story Gerald is now conscious of new views and feelings about women that he never had before. Without Gilman’s use of the third-person limited omniscient point of view the reader wouldn’t have gotten that much out of the story.

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