Essay title: Virginia Woolf’s Style and Subject in a Room of Her Own
Times have changed since universities admitted only male students. Women have gained the right to educate themselves, and the division of the sexes in business has decreased dramatically.
When Virginia Woolf wrote her essay A Room of Oneâ€™s Own, however, there was a great lack of female presence in literature, in writing specifically.In the essay, Woolf critiques this fact by taking the reader on a journey through a day in the life at a fictional university to prove that although women are capable of critical thought and want to write great works of literature, they are unable to for lack of means.The way she comes to this conclusion through writing a work of fiction is not only interesting, but also very unusual.Using the generalizing term â€œIâ€, commenting on what she is doing, and shifting gears abruptly are some stylistic ways in which she makes her point that women need money and a room of their own in order to write fiction.
- Thesis Statement
- Structure and Outline
- Voice and Grammar
Looking at chapters one and six of the essay, it is clear to see that the way she writes about women in fiction, while critiquing the lack thereof in confrontational and sarcastic manner, shows that although Woolf is ardent about getting her message across, she is aware that she may be brushed aside by her male oppressor. Throughout A Room of Oneâ€™s Own, Woolf uses â€œIâ€ and different personas to eloquently relate a day in the life at her fictional university, Oxbridge.It is immediately clear that she is not referring to herself, Virginia Woolf, when she says â€œIâ€ because she conveniently adds a disclaimer as she begins her fiction, â€œHere then was I (call me Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Charmichael or by any name you pleaseâ€”it is not a matter of any importance) sitting on the banks of a river a week or two ago in fine October weather, lost in thoughtâ€ (Woolf, 5).
Her use of â€œIâ€ here is not gratuitous, but with the parenthetical note mid-sentence, she tells the reader that anything that happens henceforth should not be taken as actual occurrences in Woolfâ€™s life, but as things that could happen to any female writer.The next sentence takes a different turn when Woolf seems to interject herself into the fiction by saying, â€œThat collar I have spoken of, women and fiction,â€ (5), using â€œIâ€ to actually talk about herself, the lecturer.This is confusing to one who doesnâ€™t immediately see what sheâ€™s doing here: blurring the lines between herself and female writers.
By using â€œIâ€ and different personas Woolf is subversively making the point that because she is a female writer who was asked to lecture on the topic of women in fiction, she embodies the topic and is entitled to speak not only about herself, but about women. So she puts herself in the shoes of other female writers in order to show that every time a woman tries to finish her thoughts, a man stops them because of sex.The changing â€œIâ€ in the essay, shortly after the spell by the river, finds herself wanting to read up on a certain poem, and conveniently happens to be across the quadrangle from Oxbridgeâ€™s library where the text is stored.This part of the fiction shows how Woolf abruptly changes gears at specific moments to prove her point.The thought from the river that had been brewing, now was accelerating into something specific and huge, an inner discussion of proper style and meaning (ironic, since the style of the piece is not normal for a lecture or an essay), andnow, Woolf shows her character walking toward the library musing, But then one would have to decide what is style and what is meaning, a question whichâ€”but here I was actually at the door which leads into the library itself.I must have opened it, for instantly there issuedâ€¦.
a kindly gentleman who regretted in a low voice as he waved me back that ladies are only admitted to the library if accompanied by a Fellow of the College or furnished with a letter of introduction (8).Woolf blatantly stops her character mid thought, an indication of the oppression that women have to endure without the proper accessories.Not only is she stopped in mid sentence, but her profound thought is cut off by a man, telling her that, as she is, she may not continue to think critically.It is clear that Woolf is using the abruptness of tone to show the immediacy of the problem of the lacking female writer.In chapter six, the â€œIâ€ changes again, and moves away from women and instead personifies the male writers of the day.
Woolfâ€™s character is reading on a beach when she is interrupted by this â€œIâ€ in the form of a shadow, â€œwatching Phoebeâ€¦coming across the beach. Then Alan got up and the shadow of Alan at once obliterated Phoebe. For Alan had views and.