What Is The Tone Of The Professions For Women By Virginia Woolf Speech

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Virginia Woolf, prolific novelist, essayist and critic, delivered “Professions for Women” as a speech before the National Society for Women’s Service on January 21, 1931. Her address highlighted the obstacles facing professional women while emphasizing the pressure placed on women by Victorian standards and expectations. Woolf’s purpose was to empower the solely female audience and to illuminate the simplicity in creating a career, despite the obstacles through outlining her personal experience. Woolf begins the speech by creating a self-effacing tone by undermining her qualifications to speak before the National Society for Women’s Service. She creates the attitude that her story of entering a profession is unprofound, which in turn implies…show more content…
Woolf shifts from describing the process of writing to describing an obstacle. Woolf encapsulates the essence of female expectations by citing the Angel in the House. The Angel in the House references a narrative poem written in the nineteenth century to describe the ideal Victorian woman. Woolf illustrates the Angel in the House “as shortly as [she] can” in order to acknowledge her audience and to make her speech brief and comprehensible for the listening women. Through employing anaphora, Woolf explains, “she was intensely sympathetic...intensely charming...utterly unselfish…” These descriptions are standards for women which the Angel in the House embodied. Woolf expands the audience’s understanding of the Angel in the House by providing concrete examples of her self-sacrificing nature. This is juxtaposed with Woolf’s behavior; Woolf purchased a Persian cat instead of using her earnings to purchase something more practical. Her impractical tendencies are contrasted with the selflessness of the Angel in the House, outwardly depicting that Woolf challenged her expectations as a woman. Woolf employs profound imagery to describe her haunting by the Angel in the House, “The shadows of her wings fell on my page; I heard the wrestling of her skirts in the room.” Through appealing to both visual and auditory senses, Woolf develops the Angel in the House from a creation of her subconscious into a concrete being, which is how she viewed it. Woolf finds the Angel in the House so intolerable she kills it in an act of “self-defence,” claiming that the Angel in the House would have killed her if she had not killed her first. Woolf definitively states, “She died hard,” which is emphatic
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