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Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own Essay

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Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own

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In A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf ponders the plight of women
throughout history. Woolf 'reads the lives of women and concludes that if a woman
were to have written she would have had to overcome enormous circumstances' (Woolf
xi). Woolf's initial thesis is that 'a woman must have money and a room of her own if
she is to write fiction' (Woolf 4). Throughout the book, however, she develops other
important conditions for artistic creation. Woolf mentions many nineteenth century
female writers in order to explain these conditions, but she does not mention Mary
Shelley. Woolf most likely excludes the author of Frankenstein because her writing
contains considerable male influence. The circumstances of Shelley's life, however,
meet Virginia Woolf's basic requirements for the production of good fiction. Mary
Shelley possesses a well-rounded education, encouragement, and an 'androgynous and
incandescent' mind (Woolf 98).

In A Room of One?s Own, Virginia Woolf suggests women produce so little
literature because of the tremendous discouragement and criticism that female writers
face. She discusses the effects of opposition and disapproval upon the artistic mind. The
opinions of others greatly affect artists, and it is those of genius who are most sensitive to
criticism. Woolf proposes that it was literally impossible for a talented woman to write
well during the sixteenth century: ?A highly gifted girl who had tried to use her gift
would have been so thwarted and hindered by other people, so tortured and pulled
asunder by her own contrary instincts, that she must have lost her health and sanity to a
certainty? (Woolf 49). To further illustrate her poin...


... middle of paper ...


...tial thesis is that ?a woman must have
money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction? (Woolf 4). Throughout the book,
however, she develops other important conditions for artistic creation such as a wellrounded
education, encouragement, and an ?incandescent and androgynous? mind
(Woolf 98). Although Virginia Woolf does not mention Mary Shelley in A Room of
One?s Own, probably because of the strong male influence in Shelley?s writing, the
circumstances of her life meet Woolf?s basic criteria for the production of good fiction.
Mary Shelley?s excellent literary education, stimulating life experiences, encouragement
from family, and lack of anger, bitterness, and fear in her writing grant her the status of
one of the most famous female writers of the nineteenth century.

Works Cited:

Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One's Own. New York: Harcourt, 1989.


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