Profession for Women

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Virginia Woolf’s speech “Professions for Women” is a very metaphorical speech chosen to address her society, especially women, where it was normal and acceptable to consider women inferior to men. Thus, Woolf wrote this speech to encourage women to pursue what they wish to be, despite the psychological obstacles, which she personally has faced. She embodies these obstacles in three individual metaphors: the phantom and fisherman. Through personal anecdotes of how she responded to each obstacle, she persuades her audience, which is mostly women, to break through the thin wall, separating injustice to freedom.

Primarily Woolf introduces us to a metaphorical reoccurring obstacle who she encounter multiple times while she was a critic journalist; a phantom. A female phantom “who used to come between me [Woolf] and my paper when I was writing reviews.” Woolf chooses to name her after a heroine from a famous poem “The Angel in the House.” Naming the phantom an Angel is more than ironic; in fact the character from the poem represents the woman who has accepted to be the weaker sex. Choosing “the Angel in the House” as reference helps the reader realise that it’s a woman’s “pure” thoughts that impeded Woolf from writing. Thus she continues to describe her phantom as “she who bothered me and wasted my time and so tormented me.” Thus she killed her, for “she [phantom] would have plucked the heart out of my writing.” Personifying this abstract idea of inferiority to a phantom brings a negative connotation to her existence; persuading women to get rid it.

In the second extended metaphor, almost allegory, Woolf speaks of a “fisherman lying sunk in dreams of the verge of a deep lake with a rod held out over the water.” The girl’s, represented by the fisherman, imagination is sweeping “unchecked round every rock and cranny of the world.” But suddenly the line had slipped and the “imagination had rushed away” and “dashed against the most acute and difficult distress.”...
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