Few works address the complex lives of women and literature like Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, an essay that explores the history of women in literature through an investigation of the material and social conditions required for the writing of literature. Woolf, born in 1882, grew up in a time period in which women were only just beginning to gain significant rights. Likewise, the outbreak of WWI left a mark on the world that Woolf lived in and also affected the literary style of many writers at the time. In her essay, Woolf presents two passages that describe two different meals that she receives during two university visits; the first passage describes the first meal that was served at a men's college, while the second passage describes the second meal that was given at a women's college. The two passages differ in elements such as sentence length, figurative language, and diction. Woolf uses these elements to emphasize the financial inferiority of women to men.
One noticeable difference between the men's college meal and that of the women's revolves around the fact that the sentences of Passage I are significantly longer in length than those of Passage II. When speaking of the men's dishes, Woolf writes, "The partridges, many and various, came with all their retinue of sauces and salads, the sharp and the sweet, each in its order; their potatoes, thin as coins but not so hard; their sprouts, foliated as rosebuds but more succulent" (ll. 16-19). The descriptions of the men's meals are long and elaborate, and careful attention to detail is provided for every dish. In the women's university, Woolf also speaks of some dishes, "Here was the soup. It was a plain gravy soup" (ll. 41-42). When compared to the sentences of Passage I, those of Passage II display a much shorter and less elaborate description of meals. Woolf purposely uses this style to emphasize the inferiority of women to men in current society. The sentences used in describing the...
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