Virginia Woolf: Brilliant Or Bias? Essay

2021 words - 8 pages

Virginia Woolf said in order for women to write fiction they need a room to themselves and money in order to support themselves. She then goes on to give an example of a hypothetical sister of Shakespeare’s that was just as talented as William but was not given the education or opportunity he was so she was unable to be successful as he was. Women writers are just as creative and have just as much potential as men, Judith Shakespeare would have never been the writer her brother if she was given the same education because society chooses what the popular literature of the time was so she may have written just as good plays as her brothers but since it was paternal society they would have chosen to read William rather than Judith Shakespeare.
Woolf begins this hypothetical story but telling the story of William Shakespeare himself. A good way to disprove the probability is to take William’s story and substituting Judith in the same position and see if she would have been able to make the same climb to success that William did. The beginning explains how William went to grammar school “Shakespeare himself went, very probably,--his mother was an heiress--to the grammar school, where he may have learnt Latin--Ovid, Virgil and Horace--and the elements of grammar and logic” we assume that this is where Shakespeare gained his prowess an amazing writer (Woolf 3,8). Now if we replace William with Judith, completely unlikely for a girl in this period to get schooling of this type. “Female literacy in England increased from a mere one percent in 1500 to twenty-five percent in 1714,” William Shakespeare lived in the late 1500’s so women literacy had probably raised slightly rose from the one percent in 1500 but was most likely still in the single digit percentile during his life (Reddy/Smith). So most likely only rich girls would have been able to be educated like that, and Shakespeare father got into financial trouble so “By 1578 things had started to go seriously wrong for John Shakespeare. The boys were removed from school in order to help with the finances as John was behind with the taxes,” so Judith would not have been left out of school solely because she was a woman but rather because their father was unable to pay for the school any longer (Alchin). Her father actually held a position that allowed his children to go to school for free so she would have received education the same as William. In 1578, William who was the oldest child was 14 years old and not even completely educated and was pulled from school so she too would have been pulled. William’s brother Gilbert was forced to help his father as leather worker to help support the family, so most likely she too would have stayed around and helped as well, not because she is a woman. Woolf neglects the fact that some of William Shakespeare’s ability was not learned through schooling but may have been learned through experience or travels, or he may have even been naturally gifted more than his...

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