Analysis of Virginia Woolf
Throughout history, a woman is only mentioned here and there, and normally they are all queens or great ladies. Women had the brains and character to be just as great as their male counterparts, but they would never receive a chance. A middle-class woman would never be mentioned, because of her oppression by man. According to historians, she was not allowed to write about her life or keep a diary. This leaves nothing to judge her by. Out of the many men that were all great writers, artists, and inventors only a handful of extraordinary woman do we know of equal caliber. The author is expressing emotional despair for the average woman. Her passion would be suppressed and forever unfulfilled.
The author starts asking why is there nothing known about women before the eighteenth century? How can there be no such poetry produced by a woman. According to men, “...it was impossible for any woman, past, present, or to come, to have the genius of Shakespeare” (Woolf 385). A stroke of genius like this would drive a woman insane and they would kill themselves. Genius like this is not something you are born with. It comes from the proper education and training. Things like this were not allowed for women. A highly gifted girl who had tried to use her gift for poetry would have been hated and punished by other people. “…so tortured and pulled asunder by her own contrary instincts, that she must have lost her health and sanity to a certainty” (Woolf 388). This is expressing how a smart woman will be so hated and revered that they will not have a chance for a normal life. Even if they were able to survive and actually write some poetry, it would have been twisted and deformed, coming from a strained and morbid imagination. If there was work from a woman it would have been published in a man’s name. This was the only way for a woman to get published.
The women who did get published under a man’s name were still looked upon as distasteful. “Thus they did homage to the convention, which if not implanted by the other sex was liberally encouraged by them (the chief glory of a woman is not to be talked of, said Pericles, himself a much-talked-of man), that publicity in women is detestable” (p.389). This means that women are nothing compared to men. Women do not care as much about fame as men do. What is most important is to be heard not seen. If a woman was born in the sixteenth century with a gift of poetry, their life would be unhappy and they would strife against themselves. The conditions of her life and her own instincts are what set her up for her ultimate demise.
Nothing is to be expected intellectually from a woman. Any girl can read, but this lowered her vitality, and said wonders about her work. “There would always have been that assertion – you cannot do this, you are incapable of doing that – to protest against, to overcome” (Woolf 392). The author expresses how again the women are repressed and told what and how to think. Women were not encouraged to be or do anything with their lives. They were told how to think and act. They were tortured, snubbed, slapped, lectured, and exhorted. Her mind was strained and her vitality was lowered by the need of opposing and disproving stuff. The woman is inferior and the man is superior.
The author uses different expressive ideas to help the audience understand the oppression against women in the eighteenth century. To make the audience feel as oppressed as the women did. Thought out the years there has been women poets and writers, but because of the oppression from the men, they used a man’s name to be able to get their point across. Any genius should be looked upon as a gift, not torn apart because it was from a woman.
In conclusion, Virginia Woolf argues a strong point on how women were treated unjust and as if they were property of a man. She expresses her ideas in a clear way using vivid descriptive language that sets the audience into her state of mind. The argument is so strong; it makes the reader feel pity for the women of that era. Makes them want to stand up and take charge of their own lives.
Woolf, Virginia. (2008).”In Search of a Room of One’s Own.” The Seagull Reader Essays second edition. New York: New York. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 381-395. Print
Cited: Woolf, Virginia. (2008).”In Search of a Room of One’s Own.” The Seagull Reader Essays second edition. New York: New York. W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 381-395. Print