This blog is a combination of information compiled as an element of a seminar course revolving around Virginia Woolf.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Chapters 1 and 2 of A Room of One's Own

The Interruptions:

Since we were asked to read and reflect on a critical article concerning Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, I decided I should post on this essay for my blog of the week. Although I have only read the first two chapters, this essay seems to be in touch with Virginia Woolf’s thoughts as an actual writer (although she avidly claims that she is not the narrator within the text). In many Woolf novels, one can see feminist ideals and thoughts emerging but this essay lays them out in a unified order for the reader and to be honest, I am not sure if I enjoy that or not. I enjoy the excitement of deciphering the symbols and imagery Woolf incorporates into her fictional novels; therefore, this was a little straightforward for my taste; however, I feel as if there were moments in the text that I found particularly entertaining.

The first element that stood out to me was the repeated occurrence of interruption especially within the first chapter. It seemed as if every time the narrator was on the verge of a insightful thought a man or obstacle were there to hinder that thought from developing. The first instance occurred while she was walking on the grass along the river at Oxbridge and the second occurred when the narrator was trying to enter the library to find the works of Charles Lamb. In both instances the narrator’s sentences are cut short by the intrusion of someone condemning her status as a woman. After the first incident, the narrator states, “ What idea it had been that had sent me so audaciously trespassing I could not now remember” (6). In the second instance, the narrator is pondering the definition of meaning and style when she is interrupted by a gentleman who resembles “a guardian angel barring the way with a flutter of black gown”(7). Both of these quotes show the extent to which her female gender is a hindrance to her creative process. The creative process is halted because men are continually scolding her invading their personal space. Thus, the idea that women need a room of their own is developed very early within the essay.

Similarly, in the second chapter, the narrator’s creative process is interrupted by the need to pay the bills, which caught my attention. For me personally (and I believe traditionally) paying the bills is a man’s role. Although I do not want to buy into traditional gender roles, I believe there is an important distinction with this specific interruption. With this interruption, Woolf incorporates her idea that a woman must be financially stable to complete the creative process. Because the narrator has inherited five hundred pounds a year, she has no real concern over the bills but they are still a demanding obligation. If looking at paying the bills as a masculine duty then one can see that all three interruptions are caused as a result of the male gender. Yet, the narrator chooses not to blame the male gender, but rather blame the system as a whole. She seems to think that males have patriarchal ideals instilled in them at an early age and therefore cannot be credited for purposely harming the female gender. In this sense then, the narrator raises the female to an even higher pedestal by giving them the compassion of understanding.

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