When I Was a Witch by Charlotte Gilman Summary
Wonderfully sardonic and slyly humorous! When I Was a Witch is a collection of classic short stories and flash fictions by pioneer feminist, literary entrepreneur and social reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman. The fantastic tales, which are reminiscent of Haruki Murakami's The Elephant Vanishes, include: When I Was a Witch, If I Were a Man, The Yellow Wallpaper, Turned, The Cottagette, My Astonishing Dodo, and many others. Each of the stories takes a simple concept of female life, and probes it, what-ifs it, and exposes it until it reaches one of many ultimate conclusions. Gilman's style is witty, subtly ironic and a joy to read. When I Was a Witch is about a woman who was having a bad hair day when she discovers that her wishes can come true and can change her environment and even the society at large. The wishes, though unconventional, still keep with other themes by Gilman around women and identity. In If I Were A Man, Mollie, the protagonist, becomes a man for one day. She immediately notices that she feels more confident as a man. She gains a sense of weight and size and freedom of physical movement that constitute a man's identity and that are different from the meekness and restraint she feels as a woman. She suddenly feels at home in the world, where everything is the right size for her, including the seat back. As she enters the man's world, she experience men differently than she used to do as a woman. Hilarious, perceptive and insightful. Since its publication in New England Magazine in 1892, The Yellow Wallpaper has been one of the most analyzed pieces of literature. Literary critics have looked at the tale from many different perspectives including feminist and anti-feminist perspectives, psychological perspectives, and even perspectives looking at The Yellow Wallpaper as a science fiction novella. Whichever perspective one looks at this tale describing the chilling depiction of a woman's mental breakdown one would see it as it truly is; a riveting masterpiece. Turned is a short story about the standing up of one woman for what she ultimately believes to be the right thing. The tale is reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale without the dystopian totalitarian theocratic undertones. Charlotte Gilman was a prominent American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and non fiction, and a lecturer for social reform. She was a utopian feminist during a time when her accomplishments were exceptional for women, and she served as a role model for future generations of feminists because of her unorthodox concepts and lifestyle. Her best remembered work today is her semi-autobiographical short story, "The Yellow Wallpaper", which she wrote after a severe bout of post-partum depression.