Gilman, Charlotte Perkins

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935), an American born writer is praised for her feminist works that pushed for equal treatment of women and encouraged women to break out of their stereotypical roles as homemakers. Her first marriage was to a man who kept her at home and would not allow her to do any activities to further herself, which only led to her already present depression getting increasingly worse.

After separating from her husband and moving away, she created a life of worth for herself by working with social groups and publishing short stories in magazines. Her most widely known work is The Yellow Wallpaper, a semi-autobiographical telling of her turbulent childhood, marriage, and depression. Gilman will always be remembered for her feminist writings, lectures, and passion for social justice and women’s rights. In 1994 she was welcomed into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and named one of the most influential women of the 20th century.

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman

 Charlotte Perkins Gilman Quotes

“It is not that women are really smaller-minded, weaker-minded, more timid and vacillating, but that whosoever, man or woman, lives always in a small, dark place, is always guarded, protected, directed and restrained, will become inevitably narrowed and weakened by it.”

“George Sand smokes, wears male attire, wishes to be addressed as Mon frère; perhaps, if she found those who were as brothers indeed, she would not care whether she were a brother or sister.”

“Exciting literature after supper is not the best digestive.”

“The art which gives humanity consciousness is the most vital art.” (The Man-made World, 1911)

“A man’s honor always seems to want to kill a woman to satisfy it.” (The Charlotte Perkins Gilman Reader)

“Audiences are always better pleased with a smart retort, some joke or epigram, than with any amount of reasoning.”

“A concept is stronger than a fact.”

“There is no female mind. The brain is not an organ of sex. Might as well speak of a female liver.” (Women and Economics, 1898)

“Death? Why all this fuss about death? Use your imagination, try to visualize a world without death! Death is the essential condition to life, not an evil.”

“Literature is the most powerful and necessary of the arts, and fiction is its broadest form. If art “holds the mirror up to nature” this art’s mirror is the largest of them all, the most used.” (The Man-made World, 1911)

“The first duty of a human being is to assume the right relationship to society — more briefly, to find your real job, and do it.”

“This is the woman’s century, the first chance for the mother of the world to rise to her full place . . . and the world waits while she powders her nose.”

“We all need one another; much and often. Just as every human creature needs a place to be alone in, a sacred, private “home” of his own, so all human creatures need a place to be together in, from the two who can show each other their souls uninterruptedly, to the largest throng that can throb and stir in unison.” (Women and Economics, 1898)

“Human life is a very large affair; and literature is its chief art. We live, humanly, only through our power of communication. Speech gives us this power laterally, as it were, in immediate personal contact. For permanent use speech becomes oral tradition – a poor dependence. Literature gives not only a infinite multiplication to the lateral spread of communion but adds the vertical reach. Through it [literature] we know the past, govern the present, and influence the future.” (The Man-made World, 1911)

“The arts, the sciences, the trades and crafts and professions, religions, philosophy, government, law, commerce, agriculture – all the human processes were going on as well as they were able, between wars.” (The Man-made World, 1911)

“In a sick society, women who have difficulty fitting in are not ill but demonstrating a healthy and positive response.”

“To attain happiness in another world we need only to believe something, while to secure it in this world we must do something.”

” For many years I suffered from a severe and continuous nervous breakdown tending to melancholia-and beyond. During about the third year of this trouble I went, in devout faith and some faint stir of hope, to a noted specialist in nervous diseases, the best known in the country. This wise man put me to bed and applied the rest cure, to which a still good physique responded so promptly that he concluded that there was nothing much the matter with me, and sent me home with solemn advice to ‘live as domestic a life as possible,’ to ‘have but two hours’ intelligent life a day,’ and ‘never to touch pen, brush or pencil again as long as I lived.’ This was in 1887…”   (from Why I Wrote the Yellow Wall-paper, 1913 

“Every kind of creature is developed by the exercise of its functions. If denied the exercise of its functions, it can not develop in the fullest degree.”

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