The Analysis of Herland

Topics: Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland, Moving the Mountain Pages: 12 (4540 words) Published: May 1, 2013
Plot Overview
Three adventurous friends—Vandyck Jennings (the narrator, also called Van), Terry Nicholson, and Jeff Margrave—join a scientific expedition to one of the few remaining uncharted areas of the world, although Van leaves the exact region ambiguous as he tells the story. As they travel, the friends hear persistent rumors of a strange land, hidden high in the mountains, that is populated only by women. Intrigued, the men investigate the rumors and do, in fact, find evidence of an advanced, isolated culture in the mountains, cut off from the rest of the world. Doubtful about the existence of an all-female country, the men are nevertheless excited by the chance to explore an unknown land, and they resolve to return on their own to find it. The three are driven by a genuine desire for knowledge, a love of adventure, and, although Van is ashamed to admit it, by fantasies stoked by the tales they have heard of a land full of women without men. The friends equip an expedition back to the hidden plateau and begin to survey the area using Terry’s airplane. From the air, they see signs of an advanced civilization and decide to land. As they explore the hidden country, the men notice the obvious cultivation of the forests and the great skill with which the roads have been laid. Terry takes these signs of agricultural and technological skill as evidence that there must be men around after all. At first, the men are unable to discover any of the inhabitants, but soon they notice three young women watching them from the trees. The men make several attempts to entice them to come closer but have little luck, although the women obviously find the men interesting. Terry uses a necklace to draw one of the women closer, then makes a grab for her. The women flee, showing amazing athleticism. The men give chase but are soon left behind. The men follow them into the nearest settlement, where they are greeted by a large gathering of women. The women are unlike any the men have ever encountered: strong, self-confident, clearly intelligent, and obviously unafraid of men. The women indicate that they want the men to follow them, but the three friends are unwilling to be taken into custody. The men decide to make a break for it, but they are soon overcome by the women, who drug them into unconsciousness. The men awake to find themselves unharmed but captive. The women treat the men well and begin to teach them their language, although the men are still not allowed to roam freely. After a while, the men, especially Terry, become impatient and decide to attempt an escape. They fashion a crude rope and lower themselves to the ground outside their window. From there, the men sneak back toward their airplane, hiding themselves carefully during the day. When they find the airplane, the men also encounter the three young women they met upon their arrival: Celis, Alima, and Ellador. The men begin talking to the women and become so distracted that they are soon recaptured. Back in custody, the men learn that their escape attempt had been anticipated and that they had, in fact, been observed the whole time. Now resigned to their gentle captivity, the men begin to question their tutors about the history and organization of what they have come to call “Herland.” They are told that Herland has been without men for 2,000 years, ever since a sequence of wars, natural disasters, and internal strife combined to leave a small population of women alone atop their hidden plateau. Forced to fend for themselves under extreme circumstances, the women organized their society along the most rational lines possible, realizing that they would never survive without cooperation. After a time, a young girl miraculously became pregnant, and her descendants (each of whom was female, and each of whom inherited the gift of solo reproduction) are the present...
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