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A Room of Ones Own by Virginia Woolf - Term Paper Example

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In the essay “A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf” the author analyzes a feminist text, the subject being women and fiction. Woolf makes a historical survey of literature to support her argument that a woman with a room and money would have made her equally well as a writer…
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A Room of Ones Own by Virginia Woolf
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Download file to see previous pages Her insistence on the condition that woman’s independence, a room of her own, and a sound financial freedom for her can only create women writers attracts criticism. This paper is a critical evaluation of Woolf’s essay to examine whether her assertion that room and money alone can create woman writers makes any sense. However, before passing any judgment on her views a brief look at the content of her lecture is imperative Woolf is emphatic in her opinion that woman would have done better if she had the opportunities to prove her mettle as a writer. She says, “All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point--a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” (Woolf, 1929, Part.1). In order to prove this she goes through the shelves of the British Library and comes out with various examples from the past. She wonders what the mothers in the past were doing. Either they were satisfied by playing the secondary roles in the family and the society or they were kept suppressed denying rooms to develop their faculties. A woman in the past, till nineteenth century, was a domestic animal; an old lady always seen wrapped in shawls. “I had earned a few pounds by addressing envelopes, reading to old ladies, making artificial flowers, teaching the alphabet to small children in a kindergarten. Such were the chief occupations that were open to women before 1918” laments Woolf (2). At the same time, all serious activities in life were the prerogatives of men. Woolf wonders why no woman was able to write anything when men were writing beautiful sonnets in the early days of literature. She says that it is mainly because literature is like a “spider’s web”, attached to life. Either life was altogether denied to woman or, like men, the choice to earn experience in life was denied to her. She quotes a historian, “the daughter who refused to marry the gentleman of her parent’s choice was liable to be locked up, beaten and flung about the room, without any shock being inflicted on public opinion” (3). This dominating nature of man can be seen reflected in the literature of the past. A look at the woman characters in Shakespeare, from Rosalind to Lady Macbeth, can show that this is true. In the entire literary history dominated by men, an Emily Bronte shines sometimes and proves her presence as a writer. Woolf undertakes a thorough survey of the past to trace the real reason for this unfortunate situation. She finds that “to have a room of her own, let alone a quiet room or a sound-proof room, was out of the question, unless her parents were exceptionally rich or very noble, even up to the beginning of the nineteenth century” (3). Not only material difficulties, argues Woolf, but there were immaterial difficulties too. The worst one was the hostility coming from men. The general masculine opinion prevailing in the early days was that nothing could be expected of women intellectually. Apart from this discrimination a woman had to suffer because she was “snubbed, slapped, lectured and exhorted”, says Woolf (3). Man’s opposition to woman’s emancipation was so strong that the opposition becomes more interesting than the emancipation itself, points out Woolf.  ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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