Theme Of Patriarchy In A Room Of One's Own

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Virginia Woolf’s essay A Room of One’s Own , offers an understanding of the relationship between gender and literature through examining the societal patriarchal hegemony that results in inequality between the male and female genders. This examination results in an introduction to the concept of androgyny, the abolition of gender inequality and the gender binary, which will allow space and freedom for all writers to pursue their intellectual and creative endeavours without interruption or suppression.

Woolf’s narrator reflects upon the ‘reprehensible poverty’ (p.22) of women and the effect of the patriarchy on the female ability to write, stating for instance that ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’
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Even if they are allowed some small degree of emancipation ‘the best woman [would be] intellectually the inferior of the worst man’ (p.55), and thus the woman still seemingly lacks complete validity and autonomy away from the authority of men. This assertion of inferiority is based in the idea of woman as an object, or a subject to discuss rather than a person. For instance, in her visit to the British Museum the narrator finds numerous books written about women by men discussing their ‘small size of brain […] mental, moral and physical inferiority [and] vanity’ (pp.30-31). This denies women the authority to define themselves on their own terms, and the pseudo-scientific concept of female inferiority physically relating to weakness in their bodies and minds further distances the woman from attempts at emancipation. Woolf’s narrator goes on to say ‘without self-confidence we are as babes in the cradle’ (p.36) and this encompasses the psychological effect that the patriarchy and a continually suppressive environment can have on the mind of a woman. This lack of confidence hinders the self-perception of women and their ability or desire to develop their artistic and intellectual talents. Woolf’s narrator claims that the literature of women is confined to the limitations that men place on…show more content…
The interruptions are perhaps her domestic duties, and the size of her body relates her apparent physical inferiority to her ability to produce substantial art. It is almost ironic that this is reflected in Woolf’s writing, where the narrator often digresses away from particular thoughts abruptly. Perhaps this notion of femininity is desirable as women are able to take up less space and ensures that they are unable to impose on the authority of men. So although Shakespeare’s sister was ‘a highly gifted girl’ (p.51) and not lacking in talent or drive originally ‘all the conditions of her life, all her own instincts, were hostile to the state of mind which is needed to set free whatever is in the brain’ (p. 52). This brings in a concept of self-sabotage and self-contradiction in that woman is socially inferior, yet there is still something intellectual and creative in
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