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Multi-faceted Melanctha Herbert

“Melanctha Herbert had not made her life all simple like Rose Johnson. Melanctha had not found it easy with herself to make her wants and what she had, agree.”

“Melanctha now really was beginning as a woman. She was ready, and she began to search in the streets and in dark corners to discover men and to learn in their natures and their various ways of working.”

Stein’s use of repetition with Melanctha’s name signifies the importance of her as a pivotal character. Through the way she describes her fearless and venturous behavior, it is evident that Melanctha is complex and multi-faceted. Her independence is apparent from the very beginning. She doesn’t answer to anyone which is reflected in her relationship with her parents.  Her indifference towards them, especially her father, indicates a sense of self-searching and internal conflict. The difficulties she faces are matching up her wants along with her needs. Melanctha is not satisfied with society’s customs she is expected to uphold. The “simple life” of those around her is unappealing to her. For example, her best friend Rose Johnson has gotten married and has followed the conventional path all women followed at that time. Melanctha desires to be her own person and is in a constant search to attain this thirst for more than what is laid out for her. She craves to “search in the streets and  dark corners.” Instead of being served everything on a silver platter, Melanctha wishes to see and experience the world for herself.

Stein, Gertrude, Three Lives. Dover Publications, New York, 1994.