I will begin my response by giving a quick insight on how Charlotte Gilman’s novel Herland resembles/ differs from Bellamy’s Looking Backward. First of all, both Utopian novels are similar in terms of the structure of the story, as these novels mainly consist of long dialogues between the inhabitants of the” Real World” and the inhabitants of the “Utopian World” in which both parties exchange their wonder and amazement at each other’s life. Also these dialogues represent the authors’ own views on the life conditions of the world that they lived in, both writers tried to address the main issues that the society back then were facing whether it was social, political, or economical issues.
As for the main differences between the two, the first apparent distinction is that Gilman’s main aim was to call for gender equality,her dream was that one day women would be treated as good as men, while Bellamy’s did not touch on this matter, his main concern was the economic situation and the social order. Another point of difference is that Herland seemed to be less harsh on real life, in a numerous occasions the women in Womenland seemed curious about life outside their country, and expressed their admiration of some of the things that they learned from the three men, unlike Looking Backward, where everything associated with the past was so useless and corrupt, which the novel seemed to be ultimately saying that all the past was BAD while the present and future is GOOD.
What I really appreciated in Gilman’s Herland is the fact that she used three protagonists, or main characters, to deliver her message about how an ideal female/male relationship should be. Interestingly enough at the beginning of the story the three men Terry, Jeff, and Van all shared the same stand on women and their “supposed” role in society. All three men believed that women’s main role was to stay at home and look after children, and it is only the poor women, they believed, that have to go out and look for work. However, when the three men went to Womenland and met all the amazing women, and closely examine how all the women were living in harmony,also that they are self-dependent, and more importantly all of this happened without men. It is after the three men met all these intelligent women that each one began to have his own stand in regard to women, whether they feel that they are equal to men or not. Terry was the most stubborn between his friends, even after he met these women, especially Alima, he nonetheless still felt that men should have the upperhand in the love relationship, and this was evident when he tried to rape Alima. Jeff, on the other hand, was quite the opposite he was so vulnerable with women to the extent of being the submissive side of his romantic relationship with Celis. Van’s affair with Ellador represented the perfect love affair between the two sexes. Their relationship consisted of a mutual understanding and pure love, we can sense that their bond is built upon a strong foundation of equal respect and admiration. Gilman seemed to be urging people to take the love relationship between Van and Ellador to be the standard love affair between men and women. It is obvious that neither Terry’s nor Jeff’s romantic relationship seemed to be ideal, as they both did not call for equality between men and women.This is why I believe that Gilman used Van to be the narrator of the story as he was the one who depicted Gilman’s genuine views on the perfect bond between men and women