Virginia Woolf’s essay A Room of One’s Own explores the topic of women in fiction. More specifically, why there is a lack of women in fiction and what women need to be considered “great” writers. She asserts that if women had been afforded the same economic and social freedom as men, they too would have had a great literary tradition. But because of societal pressures, women were not able to fulfill their literary ambitions.
Woolf essay claims that neither sex is to blame for the marginalization of women writers and ultimately the goal of a writer is to transcend gender with their texts. However in their essays When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision and In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens Adrienne Rich and Alice Walker explore Woolf 's limitations and explain how A Room of One’s Own is still restricted by the circumstances Woolf’s gender and race. They explain how her attempt to rise above these identities caused her essay to exhibit the “contrary instincts” she condemned.
In When We Dead Awaken Rich comments on how Woolf’s tone affects her message. Rich writes, “It is in the tone of a woman almost in touch with her anger, who is determined not to appear angry, who is willing herself to be calm and detached, and even charming in a roomful of men where things have been said which are attacks on her very integrity...she is acutely conscious-as she always was-of being overheard by men” (Rich 20). Rich articulates that Woolf, even while writing about women in fiction, was not able to free herself from male criticism. Her attempts to appeal to women but not displease men lead her essay to be less effective than it could have been.
Woolf attempts to appeal to a male...
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...r. However by addressing her shortcomings, they work to expand on her ideas of female creativity. Rich and Walker were more aware than Woolf of how male influence can affect a woman’s work and how that influence can stunt a full exploration of femininity. Walker does more to bring awareness to a female creative history. Rather than showing how women can be creative, she shows how women have been creative and she speaks more to female literary ability.
Woolf is a predecessor to modern female literature. Walker and Rich continue and evolve her style. They address where Woolf’s argument did not hold up and in doing so pave the way for an appreciation of female creative tradition, whether it be angry, simple, or shocking. These writers highlight the importance of feminine artistry and bring awareness to the overlooked art that females had been working on for centuries.
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