“If I were a Man” is a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. “If I were a Man” has an interesting and unique theme in the way that a woman Mollie Mathewson always says and thinks that what If I were a Man. She finally gets a chance to live as her husband and come to know about the inner world of men. She comes to know about what men think and what happens in their thoughts.
Analysis of If I Were a Man:
Mollie experiences as a man in “If I were a Man”:
- The first thing that Mollie experiences in “If I were a Man” is a physical transformation from a small tiny body to a big firm body with big hands and feet that help her to walk more firmly on the ground (as a man).
- Secondly, she feels empowered. she never felt this sense of power and pride before. Now she can has her own money and she has no need to beg for the money.
- Thirdly, she experiences the inner thoughts of men and their thoughts on business, sports, and politics. All the discussions that they do with other men. She experiences that men have two different kinds of thoughts that they prefer to keep separate. One that is related to love and tender ideas and others that are private.
- Fourthly, she realizes that hats of women are of no use, other than they are a waste of money. She ponders over why women wear hats and why there is a need for that. She observes how these hats are made. She realizes that “this idolized millinery could look to those who paid for it, like the decorations of an insane monkey” (Gilman, 1997).
It means she finally realizes that men earn and they pay for these useless hats but for them, these are just decorations of an insane monkey.
- Fifthly, by sitting on the train, she finally comes across the world of men “made by, lived in and seen by men”. On the train, her neighbour gets angry and says that he cannot give up his sear for a woman. Another man remarks that “women have no mind to make up, and if they do, they’ll change it” (Gilman, 1997)
A clergyman remarks that naturally women have limitations that do not allow them to think more. Mr. Miles another man says that all women want a rich husband with a good house so that they can buy lots of dresses and diamonds. We remain busy providing them with all these.
2) Mollie speaks up as a man and confronts the allegations on women:
The remarks on women continue that she has brought evil to this world. Finally, she speaks up as her husband Gerald Mathewson (as she is in her husband’s body).
She is in Gerald’s body and speaks as he is speaking. She says that if women have their limitations, we men have also. We all have come across smart girls in schools and colleges, who were equal in intelligence.
The clergyman remarks that women cannot play, on this Gerald say that he was also never good at football and he knows many women who are good in this game. But life is not all about winning games.
Gerald says that now it’s the time that we change our mindset and for me, women are pretty much people. Women dress like fools because all these idiotic things like hats or fashions are invented by men. If women will not dress up like this, no man will want her or like to dance with her.
Men always blame women that they want money, but none of us allows our women to work because it hurts our pride. we blame them for marrying the rich but we call them fools if they marry the poor.
If as pr belief Eve brought evil into this world, men have an equal share to continue it until now.
By occupying the body of her husband and by merging (woman and man) Gerald has new feelings, experiences and thoughts regarding different views.
3) Experiencing the world through the lens of Man but with the heart of woman:
I like the story as it is different from the previous two short stories that I discussed earlier.
I guess by living in the body of her husband, the woman not only experiences the thoughts and views of men but also come to know about the women. She not only experiences the world by a man’s lens but also come to know about the stupid fashion. She also comes to know that whatever woman is doing like dressing up or wearing stupid hats, they are doing it for men.
Men blame women to keep an eye on rich men but they also do not like them to be financially independent and earn more than men. They blame them to do stupid fashion and waste money on these useless things but they do not like simplicity.
The story not only reflects on the thoughts of men regarding women but also points out some things that women do because of men and yet consider foolish by them. There is also a sense of financial independence and realizing the worth of a being.
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