In “A Room Of One’s Own” an essay by Virginia Woolf and “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” a play by Edward Albee, both authors portray individuals, mainly women, who challenge the established values of their time by breaking conventions of the female role within a patriarchal world. “A Room Of One’s Own” was written in the late 1920’s in a post war period. During this time, the first wave of feminism was bringing about social change and feminist activity. Woolf was seen as a key figure in women’s literature and “A Room Of One’s Own” was an essay to be presented to an audience of young women. The text portrays the struggle for gender equality and openly challenges societal roles that framed the period. However, in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, Albee writes in a much more conservative context. He does challenge societal roles, however in the style of a play, these conflicts must be presented in a much more subtle approach. Written during the time of tension surrounding the Cold War and the delusion of the Great American Dream, Albee presents a dysfunctional stereotyped family unit and the struggle for gender equality in a more indirect style than allowed in the time of “A Room Of One’s Own”.
Woolf challenges the values established within their own contexts by imaginatively using the textual form of an essay with the argument that “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” Dealing with the issue of economic independence for woman, Woolf does not follow the conventional structure of a standard essay but includes personal stories to explore her opinions, “sitting on the banks of a river a week…ago” and rhetorical questions to challenge her audience, “How should it be otherwise? (p87)” Woolf also creates a fantasy setting to form her argument, “Oxbridge is an invention; so is Fernham.” Using these fictional settings, Woolf is able to freely explore the established values of the 1920’s and not be restricted to the expected...
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