Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion


Gilman believed that white, middle-class women wasted their energy--were slowed down and made dumb and meek--when tethered to the home space. By working in isolation, women limited themselves to the mere poor stores of energy of their individual bodies. In the volume seven essay “Studies in Social Pathology,”* Gilman writes, “We do not consider individuals as creating force. Our own supply of energy, stored in the brain cells, is soon exhausted” (120). The “social spirit,” on the other hand, “is what gives a member of society more power than an isolated individual. . . It is stored in our great books, great pictures, great statues; every noble human work is at once an expression of social energy and a permanent transmitter of that energy to others” (121). Because middle-class white women are alienated from social structures that could provide a reprieve from domestic drudgery, they are not able to capitalize on the “noble human work” available to them.


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