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What Diantha Did

What Diantha Did by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Charlotte Perkins Gilman opens a window of history through which we see a small part of the determined efforts made by women to elevate the circumstances of women in the early 20th century.

Diantha Bell is a normal young woman desiring marriage and a home, but also she desires a challenging career in new territory that raises many eyebrows and sets malicious tongues wagging. Her effort to elevate housework and cooking to a regulated and even a scientific business, for the relief of homemakers, is a depiction of the late 19th century movement to promote Domestic Science, or Home Economics, as a means of providing more healthful home life, as well as career paths for women.

Diantha’s business prospers as she shows her excellent gifts for administration, organization, and homemaking. She grows an empire and brings happiness and wholesomeness to every area of endeavor that she carefully attempts.

The improvements in women’s opportunities have not been available very long, indeed. This is a good reminder.

First Page:


By Charlotte Perkins Gilman


One may use the Old Man of the Sea, For a partner or patron, But helpless and hapless is he Who is ridden, inextricably, By a fond old mer matron.

The Warden house was more impressive in appearance than its neighbors. It had "grounds," instead of a yard or garden; it had wide pillared porches and "galleries," showing southern antecedents; moreover, it had a cupola, giving date to the building, and proof of the continuing ambitions of the builders.

The stately mansion was covered with heavy flowering vines, also with heavy mortgages. Mrs. Roscoe Warden and her four daughters reposed peacefully under the vines, while Roscoe Warden, Jr., struggled desperately under the mortgages.

A slender, languid lady was Mrs. Warden, wearing her thin but still brown hair in "water waves" over a pale high forehead. She was sitting on a couch on the broad, rose shaded porch, surrounded by billowing masses of vari colored worsted. It was her delight to purchase skein on skein of soft, bright hued wool, cut it all up into short lengths, tie them together again in contrasting colors, and then crochet this hashed rainbow into afghans of startling aspect... Continue reading book >>

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