Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion


​​​​​​As an adherent to Frederick Winslow Taylor’s efficiency science, Gilman reveals in “Fulfilment" her scientific managerial approach to keeping track of one’s productive hours.  The story features a long discussion between two sisters, Irma and Elsie, about how that latter spends her time. Irma is disturbed by Elsie’s “pass[ing] her life occupying rocking chairs, merely eating and sleeping in the necessary intervals between one sitting and the next." She insists on counting out the hours of Elsie’s daily activities—taking “eight out for sleep” and encourage her sister to use her hours more productively. When Elsie counters that “No two families are alike” when it comes to daily habit and sleeping schedules, Irma disagrees. She explains that, through social contribution (in Irma’s case working as a governess and serving as a foster mother), conscientious work not only provides uniformity to one’s daily life but also betters society. According to Irma, Elsie’s useless kinetic energy (back and forth in her rocking chair) could be redirected into a means for helping humanity, if only she could break away from the domestic space. In short, if energy is currency, Elsie is throwing money away rather than reinvesting it into the greater good.

In The Principles of Scientific Management,* Frederick Winslow Taylor emphasizes the importance of "an accurate daily record . . . [of] the quantity and quality of the work done . . . [and] an accurate time study undertaken, through the use of a stop-watch . . . [which] showed that the [working girls under observation] spent a considerable part of their time either in partial idleness, talking and half working, or in actually doing nothing" (91-2).



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