Virginia Woolf's essay on Mary Wollstonecraft in the Common Reader is essentially, an active continuation of the experimental method on which Mary Wollstonecraft based her life. "The high-handed and hot-blooded manner in which she cut her way through life" is in essence what Woolf is trying to replicate in this essay, in particular through her method of writing which is based very much on the stream of consciousness style. Woolf here attempts to vividly reconstruct the thoughts and ideas on which Wollstonecraft not only based her life on, but by which she was influenced for her own writing. Her writing is certain, yet a work in process. The purpose of the essay, is to convey to the common reader, that the legacy of Wollstonecraft's writing lives on in Woolf and also perhaps to obscurely suggest to the reader that the role of nature and inevitability is decisive in the actions of a woman despite how certain in her convictions of the female equality she may be in her writings.
The essay begins with Woolf referring to the French Revolution; an event which she argues "took some people and tore them asunder" . By doing this and also by quoting Wordsworth's 'The Prelude' Woolf is asserting a contemplative narrative tone, she references Austen, Lamb and Brummell in order to create comparisons between them and Godwin, Barlow, Holcroft and Wollstonecraft. She is creating two opposing sides here, one of which she is firmly supportive of and the other one which she dismisses outright due to their overlooking of the revolution. It is noteworthy that Woolf decides to write in this manner as she is introducing her female heroine by situating her with a group of men, immediately setting the scene for the main parallels between herself and Wollstonecraft, as Virginia Woolf herself frequently met with the Bloomsbury group and took an active part of discussing "the future of man, and his rights in general" - or in this case the rights and futures of women. Woolf uses...
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