Interpreting Virginia Woolf's Homosexual Subtext in Mrs. Dalloway
How does Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway intentionally show Woolf's lesbian-feminist critique of the institution of marriage and acknowledge the competing discourses of lesbianism and male homosexuality? Eileen Barrett's "Unmasking Lesbian Passion: The Inverted World of Mrs. Dalloway" answers the question showing that Woolf used her text to inform the reader of her views. The probable thesis of the article is that Virginia Woolf's critique of marriage shows how the institution of marriage obscures a woman's independent sprit and identity. And further it ruins men who are attracted to their own sex and reveals the unseen pain of the women married to them. Also in her article, Barrett goes into depth about each characters significance in explaining the opposing views on homosexuality during the time Woolf wrote the book. Barrett conveys that Woolf's representations of same sex love in her characters reflects her feminist sensibility and the influence sexologists had at the time. Barrett theorizes that Woolf felt that sexologists were perverting the erotic language of romantic friendship and perpetuating homophobia and self hatred. Also, Barrett documents that Virginia Woolf and her contemporaries, especially in the Bloomsbury Group, discussed these topics, among many, thoroughly and the resulting opinions are freely seen throughout the text.
To help aid the reader in understanding her theory, first Barrett outlines the history of how views on homosexuality formed and differed during Woolf's time. Barrett details how many of the sexologists of the time believed that homosexual women and men were suffering from what was referred to as, sexual inversion. Sexual inversion is what most people refer to as transgender today. What the idea held was that the homosexual person was displaying the mannerisms of the opposite sex and the person felt they were of the other sex trapped within their body and...
Cited: Barrett, Eileen. "Unmasking Lesbian Passion: The Inverted World of Mrs. Dalloway." Barrett and Cramer 146-64.
Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. 1925. New York: Harcourt, 1981
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