Throughout literature the ideology of the society in which the author was living is evident in the text. This can cause certain groups within a text to be empowered while the other groups are marginalised and constrained by the social restrictions placed upon them by the ideology. In the novel To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf, Woolf shows us an awareness of gender politics during the 1920¹s Britain by subverting the traditional gender roles but at the same time naturalises notions of class causing certain groups to be constrained.
In the novel Woolf subverts the patriarchial portrayal of feminism with the character of Lily Brascoe. Lily is constructed as an independent character who defies the ingrained beleifs of how a woman should act. She does this through her actions in a different style despite Mr Tansley¹s assertion that Œwomen can¹t write, women can¹t paint¹ and refuses to marry even though it was a popular belief that all women should marry Œas an unmarried woman has missed the best of life¹. Instead Lily thought that that 'she did not need to marry, thank heaven she did not need to undergo that degradation. Woolf applauds this attitude, as at the completion of the novel, Lily is one of the few characters who has achieved fulfilment or in her case the completion of a painting begun ten years prior.
Yet although the character of Lily and her decisions are applauded in the text, Lily is only enabled to have such an attitude because of her status as a member of the wealthier class. In the novel, class is viewed more as a benign structure for the common good than as a structure in which the members of the higher ...
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...t notions of class, class and gender were so closely intertwined that men and women of wealthier classes within the text were often privileged while those of the lower class found themselves constrained by the gender roles pertaining to them. This is often the case as in a particular ideology, as gender roles vary for different social background.
Works Cited and Consulted
Jameson, Fredric. " Social Idealogy in Woolf's To the Lighthouse" Twentieth Century Literature, Spring 1994 v40 n1 p15.
Latham, Jacqueline, ed. Critics on Virginia Woolf. Florida: University of Miami Press, 1970.
O'Brien Schaefer, Josephine. Reality in the Novels of Virginia Woolf. The Hague: Mouton and Co., 1965, pp. 111-13, 118-25. (Latham, pg. 72-78).
Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. Introduction by D.M. Hoare, Ph.D. London: J.M. Dent and Sons Ltd., 1960
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