Saturday, January 30, 2010


In this essay, Woolf shows how it is difficult for women to come out of the age-old-prejudices that prevail in the society and also within women themselves. Earning money through the profession of writing is what Woolf has chosen for herself. For that, in order to do well in the profession she has to go beyond the limits allotted to women. She cannot remain nice and modest. She has to be bold, forthright and open in her descriptions and criticism.

Women’s Service League:
Virginia Woolf addressing the Women’s Service League members tells them that in a man’s world they have all won places with great difficulty. They should discuss among themselves the problems they faced, share the knowledge they have gained and solve the difficulties ahead of them.

Sharing experiences:
As a woman writer she should share with them the problems she faced when she began to write. Virginia Woolf says humorously that it was easy for a woman to become a writer because writing paper was cheap.
The cheapness of writing paper is, of course, the reason why women have succeeded as writers before they have succeeded in other professions”.Angel in the house:
When she began to write she had to fight conventional notion about a woman as the Angel in the house. A woman should sacrifice herself, must be pure, and must not have a mind of her own. This Victorian concept of a woman was most dear to men. Virginia Woolf began her career as a writer with a review of a man novelist. The moment she put her pen on the paper she had to fight against this conventional concept.

When she took her pen to write a review of a man’s novel, the Angel in her house whispered,
My dear, you are a young woman. You are writing about a book that has been written by a ma. Be sympathetic; be tender; flatter; deceive; use all the arts and wiled of our sex. Never let anybody guess that you have a mind of your own….”But, she was not ready to hear those words and killed the Angel of the House when she began to write.

Society’s expectation:
The society expects women to be charm. While saying about this, Woolf says, “they (women) must charm, they must conciliate, they must – to put it bluntly – tell lies if they are to succeed…”A writer using the faculty of imagination is like a fisherman sitting with his fishing rod, says Woolf. The imagination wanders everywhere and touches upon everything. When the imagination talks about one’s body and its passions a woman writer faces a big obstacle. It is considered unwomanly for a woman to tell the truth about her body and its experience.

Success and failure:
While telling about her genuine experiences in her field she says, “These were two of the adventures of my professional life. The first – killing the Angel in the House – I think I solved. She died. But the second, telling the truth about my own experience as a body, I do not think I solved. I doubt that any woman has solved it yet”. As for fighting against this obstacle, Woolf says, it is not over yet.

If such difficulties exist in literature which is a free profession she can imagine what kind of obstacle women choosing a lawyer’s or a doctor’s profession should have to put up with. She advises the women in various professions to consolidate and fight the obstacles and overcome the prejudices.

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