Literature

Turned: Sisterhood and strong woman in Charlotte Perkins Gilman short story

Turned is a short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Let’s take a look at the summary of this short story first:

Turned has three characters, a husband Mr. Marroner, his wife, Mrs. Marroner and their young maid Gerta Petersen. In Turned, we have an idea about the feelings and emotions of Mrs. Marroner and a little bit about Gerta Peterson. Gerta Peterson is the new maid of Mr. and Mrs. Marroner and they are happy to have her. Mrs. Marroner educates her and teaches her as much as she can.

Mr. and Mr. Marroner do not have their own child. Mrs. Marroner is a PHD holder and she sees the reflection of her own child in Gerta. She is also fond of Gerta because Gerta is very docile and tries to learn what Mrs. Marroner teaches her.

Mr. Marroner once goes outside of the country for some business and from there he sends a letter for his wife. One day, from the letters Mrs. Marroner finds out that her husband is having an affair with Gerta (or having a relationship with or without her consent). She tries to think about the various idea but she decides to move out of the house quietly.

When Mr. Marroner comes back from the business trip, there is no sign of either his wife or Gerta. He tries to think and realizes that she has found out about his affair. Until, one day, Mrs. Marroner cousin comes and confirms that she has no plan to come back.

Mr. Marroner tries to find her and one day he finally reaches his wife’s place. The short story ends when Gerta and Mrs. Marroner both come together and Gerta is holding a baby that is probably of Mr. Marroner. Mrs. Marroner asks him”What have you to say to us” (Gilman, 1997)

Important aspects in Turned :

Two different women’s destiny linked together:

Mrs. Marroner and Gerta both are different women. Mrs. Marroner is a rich, highly educated, strong and well-mannered woman while Gerta is a poor, uneducated weak girl. However, their destinies are bind together by Mr. Marroner.

The loss of Mrs. Marroner and Gerta is also linked together. Mrs. Marroner “suffered more from the wreck and ruin of a long love and Gerta had personal shame to meet, a hopeless future and a looming present which filled her with unreasoning terror” (Gilman, 1997).

Feminism:

Feminism can be seen clearly in the short story. After figuring out the infidelity of her husband, first Mrs. Marroner thinks about to drag Gerta out of her house.

She quickly understands it and instead of blaming Gerta, she blames her husband. Mrs. Marroner refers to the relationship as “This was not love” (Gilman, 1997). She feels pity for Gerta that her husband used her. She also refers to Gerta as the “victim” of her husband.

She emphasizes the fact that ” This is the sin of man against woman”. This offense is against womanhood” (Gilman). Mrs. Marroner clears to the reader that this is an injustice not only towards herself but more to Gerta and her child.

The infidelity of her husband makes her stronger than before and she starts earning for herself and changes her name to Miss Wheeling that was her maiden name.

Guilt of Mr. Marroner:

As soon as, Mr. Marroner realizes that her wife has found out about his affair, he put blame on Gerta for coming between him and his wife. He gets anxious and feels guilty that he did wrong to his wife. He thinks that he has firm belief she will forgive him and he will tell her that he will change himself.

Significance of the title Turned:

Here are my thinking about the title “Turned”:

  • Firstly, it can depict the thoughts of Mrs. Marroner about Gerta after finding out his husband’s fidelity. In mostly narratives, normally the blame is all on the second woman. The wife forgives the husband and puts all blame on the second woman. Here it’s the opposite situation. Mrs. Marroner takes Gerta with her and leaves her husband.

Although from the condition of Gerta, it seems that Mr. Marroner took advantage of her without her consent or because of her innocence. However, the way Mrs. Marroner supports Gerta till the end depicts sisterhood.

  • Secondly, it can be the turning point of Mrs. Marroner’s life in the sense that she starts focusing on her career that she left behind. She starts using her old name, Miss Wheeling.
  • Thirdly, Mrs. Marroner does not complain to her husband, not yell at him for infidelity. She does not leave the house alone or leave Gerta behind. She does not want her husband after her departure takes advantage of Gerta.

Why this short story is different and why I liked it:

Here woman takes the side of the woman and this is what makes this story different from other narratives. Here is the depiction of a strong woman in the form of Mrs. Marroner who does not sit and cry for her husband’s infidelity. She not only takes care of herself but also Gerta and her child. She does not forgive her husband and uses “US” at the end to emphasize that neither Gerta nor she is available for Mr. Marroner.

There are the elements of sisterhood and strong woman that makes this shorty story different.

Related to short story:

Yellow Wallpaper short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

If I were a Man- Short story by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Role of men in Charlotte Perkins Gilman short stories

Naz khaliq

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Naz khaliq

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