A room of one's own

1898 Words4 Pages

Virginia Woolf's ambitious work A Room of One's Own tackles many significant issues concerning the history and culture of women's writing, and attempts to document the conditions which women have had to endure in order to write, juxtaposing these with her vision of ideal conditions for the creation of literature. Woolf's extended essay has endured and proved itself to be a viable, pioneering feminist piece of work, but the broad range of ideas and arguments Woolf explores leaves her piece open to criticism over certain concepts which seem to contradict themselves. This observation can be explained most satisfactorily by critic Ellen Bayuk Rosenman, who posits, "the essay does not strive for the strict coherence of a jigsaw puzzle, composed of perfectly interlocking pieces in which no gaps exist and there is nothing left over...Woolf's essay has proved so durable because it often contradicts itself"(13). Woolf puts forth the notion in the end of her essay that the "androgynous mind" is to be the apotheosis of all the perspectives of writing; yet this belief she conveys contradicts not only previous evidence she has expressed but also diminishes the value of the female as a significant contributor to the world of literature, and discredits woman's ability to write as she is attempting to praise and inspire us.

Virginia Woolf uses A Room of One's Own as a platform to discuss past and current social inequities that exist within the realm of women and literature, attempting to document the negative effects that patriarchal society of the early twentieth century England has wrought upon the female psyche. From her analysis of these issues and her own life experiences, Woolf comes to the conclusion which becomes the basis for this essay...

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...(13), exposes brilliantly the ambiguity present throughout Woolf's essay. And Woolf herself provides the most eloquent contradiction of the piece when she urges, "it is much more important to be oneself than anything else. Do not dream of influencing other people, I would say, if I knew how to make it sound exalted. Think of things in themselves"(2211). To 'think of things in themselves' in the most literal sense would be to allow every perception, every attitude, every emotion equal stature in one's mind and in the writing process. Perhaps it is not disregarding one's own sex that will make for the highest form of literature, but instead allowing the combination of experience and emotion, spirituality and materialism, belief and conjecture, to coalesce into a beautiful mass of ideas that will truly be a reflection of the author in her most complete consciousness.

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