How Does Woolf Understand the Relationship Between Literature, Sex and Gender in a Room of One’s Own?

Topics: Gender, Sex, Female, Woman / Pages: 9 (2164 words) / Published: Apr 15th, 2011
5. How does Woolf understand the relationship between literature, sex and gender in A Room Of One’s Own?
The relations between literature and gender are historically complicated with issues of economic and social discrimination. Woman’s writing is still a relatively new area, and Woolf examines how their creativity has been hampered by poverty and oppression. Women have not produced great works like those of Shakespeare, Milton and Coleridge, and she see's this as a result not only of the degrading effects of patriarchy on the mind but of the relative poverty of the female sex. A woman ‘must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.’
Men have historically fed money back into the systems that keep them in power, and made it legally impossible for a woman to have her own money. The narrator’s two meals at ‘Oxbridge’ illustrate the institutional sexism in the education system, with the poorer woman’s college providing a mediocre meal compared to the one at the men’s. Furthermore, a woman’s traditional role as a child bearer leaves no time to earn; and without such independence, women are shut up in the houses of their husbands or fathers without the privacy needed to write without interruptions.
Woolf demonstrates such interruptions within the text as the narrator’s thoughts are often hindered; she has an idea which is ‘exciting and important’ which is forgotten as ‘the figure of a man rose up to intercept me.’ She is forbidden to enter the library, a strong symbol of the denial of education and knowledge to women. In considering the extent and effect of these inequalities, she discovers that she has been thinking not objectively but with anger. Although ‘one does not like to be told that one is naturally the inferior of a little man,’ she is aware that anger disrupts what should be a clear and rational mind. However, it appears that the men in power, the ‘professors,’ are also angry. They insist quite aggressively upon the inferiority of

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