Tag Archives: wisdom

An Education

Girls who are brought up with care and watching can always find moments to escape into the world, where they may learn the ways that lead to wisdom. For a girl raised like Melanctha Herbert, such escape was always very simple.

Gertrude Stein, “Melanctha,” in Three Lives (New York: The Grafton Press, 1994), 54

Jane had many ways in which to do this teaching. She told Melanctha many things. She loved Melanctha hard and made Melanctha feel it very deeply. She would be with other people and with men and with Melanctha, and she would make Melanctha understand what everybody wanted, and what one did with power when one had it.

Gertrude Stein, “Melanctha,” in Three Lives (New York: The Grafton Press, 1994), 60

Throughout Stein’s novella Melanctha is alluded to having a thirst for knowledge, and yet she is constantly misunderstood for her pursuit by her friends and family. There are multiple references to the wisdom she gains from talking with men, but as to the nature of the knowledge, that is kept misleading. Her closest friend in her youth is Jane Harden, who also passes knowledge to Melanctha. Jane wants Melanctha to know how to please people, but Melanctha seems to constantly anger the people she comes into contact with.