Ruddick, Sara. "Private Brother, Public World." New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf. Ed. by Jane Marcus. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1981. pp. 185-215.
Virginia Woolf's excerpt from her essay 'A room of One's Own' narrates her criticisms about the temperament of the society of her time towards women and the journey of arriving to such conclusions. An integral portion of the said excerpt focuses on the analogy of the capturing a thought being similar to the process of catching a fish in a river. The narrator achieves this by incorporating the use of literary devices such as imagery. Other literary devices such as pathos are well weaved into the crux of the main idea of the given excerpt.
“I should implore you to remember your responsibilities, to be higher, more spiritual; I should remind you how much depends on you, and what an influence you can exert upon the future”, Woolf states, emphasizing the importance of self-confidence in women (Woolf 153). Woolf, writing in 1929, is making use of the time period and emphasizing that women no longer have excuses to not progress. She lists all of the privileges women had at this time and is angry with that they are still; holding up excuses. Woolf challenges the reader to change her
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Evelyn Cunningham once said, “Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors.” For thousands of years women have been oppressed, not in the bondage of slavery but in the bondage that comes from a lack of education and a dependence on men for their livelihood. Women have been subjected to scrutiny and ostracization, belittling and disparaging comments, and even at times they have been feared by men. Women themselves have even taken on the beliefs that they require a man in their life to be taken care of and have a satisfying life although some women and even some men have seen that the differences between the sexes is purely physical. This oppression, as well as the enlightenment of some, is well noted in many literary works. Literature has often been an arena for the examination of the “woman question,” as it was termed in the Victorian age. Four works that examine the role or view of women in society are John Stuart Mill’s The Subjection of Women, T.S. Eliot’s “Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and Carol Ann Duffy’s “Medusa.” Although each work examines a side of the woman question in its own way with a variety of views on the question, all of the works examine the fear that women incite in men, the idea that women are dependent on men, and the idea that women are separate from men in some way and each piece works to show that there is actually an interdependence between men and women that is often not expressed.
A woman’s role in history was to cook, clean and raise children. What was to happen when women took a more prominent role in society, or when she wanted to go to college? Would they be treated as equals or have a lesser value? Virginia Woolf writes about her two meals at two different universities, one being a men’s university and the other a women’s university. Her writing includes what one meal had and the other lacked. Both her meals at these universities would prove her point that a woman was treated with lesser value than that of a man.
Contrasting images are made when Virginia Woolf describes a meal that is being served in a men’s dining hall, and a women’s dining hall. The luxurious atmosphere of the men’s dining hall, and the dull atmosphere of the women’s dining hall showcases Woolf’s underlying attitude toward women in society. Woolf uses narrative structure, manipulation of language, selection of detail, and tone to contribute to the effect of the passage and the display of inequality of men and women.
In today’s society, it’s not hard to see that women are treated differently than men. But just how differently are the genders treated? Virginia Woolf claims that even when there aren’t limitations preventing women from performing in any profession she chooses, she will face external and internal problems. This claim holds true in today’s society because women have strong stereotypes against them, the media treats women differently and a fear of public failure can cripple some women. Virginia Woolf, a women’s right activist in the early to mid 1900s, described what women were expected to be in her day and age. Which is to be sympathetic, charming, unselfish, an excellent family member, to be pure and beautiful. In today’s age, there are many conflicting ideas of what a woman must be, and society is all too happy to judge a woman who isn’t following their ideas of what a woman is.
Feminism and Insanity in Virginia Woolf's Work The critical discussion revolving around the presence of mystical elements in Virginia Woolf's work is sparse. Yet it seems to revolve rather neatly around two poles. The first being a preoccupation with the notion of madness and insanity in Woolf's work and the second focuses on the political ramifications of mystical encounters.