“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
This famous quote from the
essay called “A room of one’s own” by V. Woolf emphases the main idea the author is approaching in her work.
In this essay, Woolf attempts to analyze the women’s status in literature during the history…or rather the lack of their presence, particularly, as writers (with few exceptions) until 19th century. The author goes deep in her research and explain the condition of a woman in a society mainly dominated by men. Woolf points out that in a situation when the female was seen just as wife and mother, inferior to the other sex ; when she didn’t have any education, privacy, right to own property or vote; when she was calling witch or morally depraved for wanting to study, write or act – it was just impossible for her to become a poet or a novelist…being the subject of people’s mockery, she simply would not survive. ” Most women have no character at all”;” Cats do not go to heaven though they have souls of a sort and women cannot write the plays of Shakespeare, even they write something” – that’s the cruel reality for a very long period of time.
” Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.
Whatever may be their use in civilised societies, mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action. That is why Napoleon and Mussolini both insist so emphatically upon the inferiority of women, for if they were not inferior, they would cease to enlarge. That serves to explain in part the necessity that women so often are to men.”
The result of this situation was that the history, the literature, the painting and music, the politics and discoveries were entirely dominated by men. Women appear as muses, as characters seen through the eyes of men…they seem to live somehow in a shadow, without opinion, dreams or right to express themselves.
Woolf concludes that a woman needs to be financial independent and to have privacy in order to be able to write, otherwise it’s almost impossible to do that:
“Intellectual freedom depends upon material things. Poetry depends upon intellectual freedom. And women have always been poor, not for two hundred years merely, but for the beginning of time. Women have had less intellectual freedom then sons of Athenian slaves. Women, then, have not had a dog’s chance of writing poetry. That is why I have laid so much stress on money and room of one’s own.”
At the end of her essay, Woolf describes the opportunities of her time, when women got much more possibilities, rights and independence to be creative, to pour their souls on the paper writing fiction or poetry…but, unfortunately just few of them took that chance and when they did that they usually tried to write in a man’s style. Woolf comments this fact by saying:
“I find myself saying briefly and prosaically that it is much more important to be oneself than anything else. Do not dream of influencing other people, I would say, if I knew how to make is sound exalted. Think of things in themselves.”
One more idea that derives from the essay and should be mentioned is that V. Woolf, doesn’t agree with the male’s domination in literature but she also deprecates the women writers whose works lay on blames toward the other sex.
“It is fatal to be a man or a woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or a man-womanly. Some collaboration has to take place in the mind between the woman and man before the act of creation can be accomplished. Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated. The whole of the mind must lie wide open if we are to get the sense that the writer is communicating his experience with perfect fulness. There must be freedom and there must be peace.”
A wonderful essay about women, fiction and men between them. It definitely represents a masterpiece meant to rise awareness about woman’s position in society, namely in literature laying an initial theoretical basement for the future current of feminism.