Herland and Looking Backward: Utopian Novels

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Herland and Looking Backward are both utopian novels that attempt to portray a perfect society. Herland, written by feminist Charlotte Gilman, describes a peaceful, organized, highly efficient society called Herland, where competition, crime, and war are non-existent. Herland is an isolated society composed entirely of women discovered by three men from the real world. In Looking Backward, written by Edward Bellamy, the main character wakes up in the 21st century to a publicly owned capital where nobody lives in poverty and everyone is considered, entertained and educated. All of the problems in the 19th century had been resolved in this new world. The first similarity I found in these novels was the structure. There are the citizens of the” Real World” and the citizens of the “Utopian World” in which both parties exchange their wonder and amazement at each other’s life. Another similarity between these novels is that the authors are able to express their views on the main issues that the society back then were facing, whether it was social, political, or economical issues. In Herland, Gilman is suggesting that society and education could change for the better if motherhood rather than manliness became the cultural ideal. The people of Herland are strong, intelligent, independent women that have successfully built a society on their own, where the community’s needs come before their own. Gilman obviously feels that her society is unjust to women and does not allow them to achieve their full potential. In Looking Backward, it is evident that Bellamy’s feelings toward his society is that American independence led to the creation of an economy run by the wealthy which then created an oppressive class structure and weakened the freedom of individuals.
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