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

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Middle Essays: Professions for Women and The Cinema

Of all the middle essays, Professions for Women was by far the most entertaining from my perspective. Because the essay dealt with the idea of the woman as an author, I believe Woolf’s true personality was revealed through the course of the text for this is a subject she feels strongly about. From her descriptive sentences and sarcastic undertones, Woolf definitely keeps the reader entertained through the course of the text. Now, after reading the first portion of A Room’s of One’s Own, I can see how this essay is a precursor to a fuller and more elaborate text.

One portion of Professions for Women I found most interesting was when Woolf quoted what she envisioned The Angel of the House to say. The Angel of the House urges the author, “never let anyone know you have a mind of your own” (2). This idea struck me as very degrading towards women, but it also reminded me of one portion of Orlando. In the chapter concerning the 19th century, Orlando talks of an outside force controlling her pen and states, “Nothing more repulsive could be imaged than to feel the ink flowing thus in cascades of involuntary inspiration” (175). With these statements, one can see how Woolf envisions outside forces in a negative light. Because The Angel of the House comes between Woolf and her writing, and the strict constraints of the Victorian Era limited women’s writings, one can see the similarities between Professions for Women and Orlando. The Angel of the House and the Victorian Era are forces of society that degrade women to the point in which they have no creative outlet, which is a central focus in both works.

Another portion of the text I found entertaining was the concluding paragraph where Woolf discusses the decorating of the room of one’s own. In a way, I think she is marking the path to justice for women. Although she states that women have won a small freedom in having a room of their own, she also states that it is only the beginning. Women must still decorate and furnish the room; therefore, I believe she is commenting on the idea that women will always have obstacles to overcome. Even if the road eventually becomes smooth for women, they will always have a more difficult journey than men.

Additionally, I was struck by how Woolf incorporates a small dose of Freudian psychology into the work. She states, “the novelist’s chief desire is to be as unconscious as possible” (3). Although in Freudian psychology, the author may not know he is tapping into his own unconsciousness, it is still the source of creative energies. For Freud, art serves as an outlet for suppressed feelings and this essay shows that Woolf may share similar thoughts.

Aside from Professions for Women, I also thought The Cinema was an interesting essay. Since Woolf deals with visual imagery a great extent in her novels, I found her somewhat negative view of the cinema interesting. But as we discussed in class, Woolf may have had different views if presented with the more modern form of the cinemas that we now have, but I still will never be able to watch a movie without thinking of what the text version would be like.

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