A Room of Ones Own by Virginia Woolf
In 1928, Virginia Woolf was asked to speak on the topic of “women and fiction”. The result, based upon two essays she delivered at Newnham and Girton that year, was A Room of One’s Own, which is an extended essay on women as both writers of fiction and as characters in fiction. While Woolf suggests that, “when a subject is highly controversial-and any question about sex is that-one cannot hope to tell the truth,” (Woolf 4) her essay is, in fact, a thought out and insightful reflection on the topic. The main point she offers is that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction. Within the essay Woolf centers on the economic constraints that society inflicts on women, resulting in financial dependency on men and ignorance because of lack of education.
As for issues that are addressed within the writing, one of the first is noticed when Woolf is at the library and the reader begins to see the treatment of women, “I must have opened it, for instantly there issued, like a black guardian angel barring the way with a flutter of black gown instead of wings, a deprecating, silvery, kindly gentleman, who regretted in a low voice as he waved me back that ladies are only admitted to the library if accompanied by a Fellow of the College or furnished with a letter of introduction.” (Woolf 8) During the 1500’s, women fought for their education; however the majority of men during this time questioned the thought that women should receive an education. Some men would make claims that women could learn, but that is was not a very good idea. Women felt that it was necessary for them to learn so that they can express themselves. This can be seen in A Handmaid’s Tale, because the handmaids in the Republic were given next to no rights. They were not allowed in certain places, were not given the gift of education, and were, in a sense, subject to the male dominancy of the times.
Also within the first chapter while discussing a Mrs. Seton, who is a student at Fernham College and friend of the narrator, she states that it would be useless to ask the question what might have happened to them had her mother and mother’s mother collected great wealth because, “in the first place, to earn money was impossible for them, and second, had it been possible, the law denied them the right to possess what money they earned.” (Woolf 22) During their time period, it would have been considered her husband’s property. Also, for instance, if the father was to pass away, his money would go to the next male in line in the family instead of any women. Such was the case also in both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea. Mr. Rochester is pushed into marriage with Bertha because she is thought to have a great wealth. This would, in turn, become his money once they are married.
During the essays, Woolf is careful not to fully blame men for the unfair treatment of women. Any blame she does bestow on...