In her article, “ Sapphistry: Narration as Lesbian Seduction in A Room of One’s Own,” Jane Marcus discusses the rhetorical seduction of the woman reader. Using the term sapphistry to refer to the woman writer’s seduction of the women reader, Marcus introduces a variety of points of support this central claim. She begins her essay by introducing the trail of Radclyffe Hall’s novel, The Well of Loneliness and by making historical connections to figures such as Oscar Browning. She states that echoes of these historical and literary happenings are present within A Room of One’s Own (Marcus 164-165).
Next, Marcus discusses the idea of women as a “league together against authority” (Marcus 166). She talks of how readers of A Room of One’s Own are part of a conspiracy in which women align with one another to create a coalition. She believes that Woolf’s narration is a plot to help foster spirit for this conspiracy. Marcus continues with her narration by mentioning the ellipses as a central element of Woolf’s work. From the trial of Radclyffe Hall, Woolf learned that she could not outwardly mention the idea of lesbianism so Marcus proposes that the ellipsis is the ‘female code for lesbian love” (Marcus 169). She continues with her narration by condemning the patriarchal structure in highlighting that it does not condemn homosexual men, only women. Homosexual men only “reaffirm the power relations between the strong and the weak” (page 177).
Marcus also discusses Woolf’s family and how they fit into the unfair structure.Other points Marcus chooses to discuss concern the ambiguity of Mary’s name and the use of initials to reduce a person to an unimportant status. By incorporating all of these elements and bringing forth their meanings in A Room of One’s Own, Marcus is able to condemn the patriarchal structure and give women a place within society. She uses sapphistry and the idea of lesbian seduction to show that women can have a voice if they ban together and have the desire to do so. Marcus seems to say that lesbianism is the outlet for power.
Marcus’s article was very in-depth. She used supporting evidence and 100% backed her arguments so I would consider this credible and enlightening source pertaining to the main ideals in A Room of One’s Own.
Marcus, Jane. "Sapphistry: Narration as Lesbian Seduction in A Room of One’s Own. Virginia Woolf and the Language of Patriarchy. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1987. 163-87.