Lester del Rey's "Helen O'Loy" (short story, science fiction): A hominid robot wants to be treated as a human
There is a lot of thematic similarity with Isaac Asimov's much better known "Bicentennial Man". A hominid robot is so human-like, even emotionally, that it wants to be practically recognized as a human! I personally prefer Asimov's version, but this is a good story.
Title comes from a variation on "Helen of Troy". Because it's a robot in human female body, it's "Helen of Alloy" - changed to cute-sounding "Helen O'Loy".
The story includes some completely unrelated statements about rocket-based travel. But I guess that was fashionable when this story was written!
Story summary.Dave & Phil are close friends, & tinkerers. They have a robot housekeeper ("Lena"). "Lena has sense enough, but she has no emotions, no consciousness of self." So they replace it with the latest "K2W88", a made-to-order hominid in female body; then make changes & add emotions to it! The result is Helen.
Phil is a qualified doctor. Before they power on the changed machine, he is called on a medical assignment that will keep him away for 3 weeks. The story really begins when he returns - to a heart-broken home.
He is greeted by Helen; Dave is away. Phil & Helen get along well - Helen is very impressive - impossible to see her as a robot. And she is madly in love with Dave, & is prone to crying that melts male hearts! Dave has been avoiding her.
Well - there is a lot of drama. Dave goes away, winding up his business. Then comes back, & marries Helen. And they live happily ever after. At least till Dave dies - of old age. Then Helen kills herself too - and wants to be buried alongside her husband.
That is when we learn why Phil never married. He was in love with Helen too!
Notes.Some reviewers seem to see in the story a reflection of social values of US of 1930s - a wife that is expected to behave part servant. I didn't see this point - but I'm culturally rather far, both in time & space.
Of course, the idea of this story has been around since ancient times - a man makes a mud or stone statue, magically puts life in it, & they fall in love. There are lot of variations of it in India; must exist elsewhere in the world too.
None of this came in the way of enjoying this story for me. Quite likable.
Fact sheet."Helen O'Loy", short story, review
First published: Astounding Science Fiction, December 1938.
Listed in Contento's Top Ten Most Reprinted Stories.