I have to admit that I liked Gilman’s utopian novel more than Bellamy’s for couple of reasons. For one thing, it does not have very long descriptive passages explaining the economy of that Utopia, as in Bellamy’s. The other thing, it has the romance element. I am not saying that Bellamy’s does not have that element, but if you remember, it did not appear until the very end of the novel. And Finally, I liked it because Gilman’s utopia is not concerned with economy as much as it is concerned with sociology, as being the biggest umbrella for other aspects, such as economy.
Gilman envisions in her utopia a society populated entirely by women. The whole country is pure women from one female ancestor who had become pregnant without being fertilized by a male. Their ancestor being pregnant without a man indicates that the coming generations of her are PURE WOMEN with no MALE genes. For Gilman to put this way is very feminist. She prepares the reader for a world that has no Male elements and sees how it progresses without males.
The next generations were able to build a country with many very clean cities and highly educated female inhabitants. All the women are successful in participating in economy and politics of this society. Gilman is critiquing the real world of its failure in building the perfect society because in the real world there is a MALE element. How is that clear in this novel? For one thing, almost the whole novel is not concerned with economy, as in Bellamy’s, but with Motherhood and Childbearing. It is to say that the perfect life is about giving or as in the old myth Mother Earth.
The mother earth and the idea of motherhood and production is an environmentalist concept that appears clearly in Gilman’s utopia. For the environmentalist theorists and the Ecocritics, the ideal world is where nature comes first. In Herland, the country, we see how much efforts the female inhabitants put on taking care of nature. Ellador explains how in Herland they had been taking care of nature for centuries. She says, “This is a female of the obernut moth, she told me. They are almost gone. We have been trying to exterminate them for centuries. If you had not caught this one, it might have laid eggs enough to raise worms enough to destroy thousands of our nut trees.” What I wanted to say here is that Herland is utopia and a perfect place not because they have the perfect economic system, as in Beallmy’s, but because it is environmentally perfect.
For Gilman, giving birth, motherhood, and childbearing is an equivalent to the capitalist economy. She is criticizing the capital economy for its production and consumption and put the other way. In this utopia, they build the perfect economy by investing in giving instead of consuming and taking care of nature instead of consuming natural resources.
And back for her very feminist point of view of both economic and male, Terry in Gilman’s utopia is the representation of the male consumption nature. Since the real world is masculine, and the economy is handled by males; she criticizes this through Terry’s character. When the male explorers, meet the three young Herland’s natives, the women run up into a tree and looked down upon the invaders. Terry describes these women as food for his consumption: “Girls …Peaches ,Peacherinos–Apricot-nectarines Whew!’ Terry here is the representation for Male’s point of view women as being objects intended for his enjoyment. And nature in the same way is an object to be consumed for male’s wealth.