Comparing The Buried Life and A Room Of One's Own

Comparing The Buried Life and A Room Of One's Own

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Comparing The Buried Life and A Room Of One's Own

    Victorian writers did ask difficult and unsettling questions, and the modern writers continued on with the quest to display these unsettling thoughts and feelings in their works even more so. You can see this continuing easy from "The Buried Life," to the ideas of "A Room Of One's Own."


In "The Buried Life," Arnold questions why men in society bury their emotions and innermost thoughts from one another like they are the only one's with these qualities, even though every man has them: "I knew the mass of men concealed their thoughts, for fear that if they revealed they would by other men be met with blank indifference, or with blame reproved; I knew they lived and moved tricked in disguises, alien to the rest of men, and alien to themselves--and yet the same heart beats in every human breast" (p.2021). He doesn't understand why this is the case, and believes humanity would be better if we let this buried life out of its cage to be free, freeing us to be our true selves. The way to reach this goal is through open love by a fellow human being: "When a beloved hand is placed on ours...the heart lies plain, and what we mean, we say" (p. 2201).


In "A Room Of One's Own," Woolf questions society's view on how geniuses of art are created. She shows that this is a natural gift, but it is one that can either be stifled or let prosper and grow, depending on how the members in society rule and treat the artist with the gift. She says that these artists need to be allowed to garner in knowledge in order to feed their ideas for their art, and they must be allowed to be free in mind and spirit so that they can create their masterpieces: "The mind of an artist, in order to achieve the prodigious effort of freeing whole and entire the work that is in him, must be incandescent...There must be no obstacle in it, no foreign matter unconsumed" (p. 2472).


As you can see, both of these works question society in the matter of chaining up it's members true feelings and ideas.

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They both say that men in their nature have these feelings, and they should be allowed to be expressed openly. The main difference in these pieces thus is not in theme, but merely in their portrayel. The Victorian text, "The Buried Life," seems to propose it's question and answer in a very congenial way, showing a very mannered speech. The Modern text "A Room Of One's Own," however, is a little more daring and upfront in it's question and proposed answer. It blatantly scolds society for impeding women in their struggle for artistic and emotional expression, and it is less forgiving and congenial.



Virginia Woolf.  " Room Of One's Own." pp. 2468-2472.

Matthew Arnold.  "The Buried Life."  pp. 2021-2022.
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