The first major setting of the novel is the grounds of a fictitious university the author calls "Oxbridge." As the name of this locale makes clear, the reader is supposed to call to mind Cambridge and Oxford Universities, two of the oldest universities in England. Both were established in the early thirteenth century and both were centers of learning even before they were officially established as universities. Each is made up of numerous, differently named colleges.
During the course of waiting for and keeping her two appointments at Oxbridge, the narrator (who henceforth will be referred to as Mary Beton) does various things and various things happen to her. She sits by the river that runs through the campus thinking about a future lecture she must give on the topic of women and fiction, she walks around (continuing to think) and is told to stay on the paths and keep off the ' 'turf," she tries to go into a library b...
... middle of paper ...
...stopped; and they got into the taxi; and then the cab glided off as if it were swept on by the current elsewhere.
The reader, in the opening to the book's final chapter, leaves for a moment the precincts of old and ancient institutions and the pages of books. He or she is invited to contemplate, for a moment, the contemporaneous, everyday, and real world. It is a dynamic and modern world filled with automobile and foot traffic, factories, and businesses. And what this dynamic fast-changing world promises is that for which the author wishes, which is progress. A bright, certain future is expected just as rivers inevitably reach the sea. In this fortuitous and synchronous meeting of young woman, young man, and taxi, Woolf points to a future in which women and men are on an equal footing, meet each other half way, and travel together in a direction of mutual harmony.
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