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Professions for Women: An Article Analysis

Virginia Woolf’s speech “Professions for Women” is a speech intended for The Women’s Service League in 1931. Having Virginia Woolf as the speaker and writer of the piece already says a lot about the content, not to mention the title of the speech itself. She was supposed to talk about her professional experiences as a novelist. Professional women at the time of the speech were clearly few in number, and most women were still under an extreme patriarchal society. Analysis of Professions for Women

Instead of the typical speech about a professional life, Woolf preferred to speak about a personal dilemma of being a professional woman instead. In her speech, she discusses two predicaments in her life as a writer. The first one is the trouble of a recurring fictitious character of the Angel in the House. She describes the character to be “intensely sympathetic. She was immensely charming. She was utterly unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. She sacrificed herself daily” (Woolf 301).

Clear in her descriptions, she is not fond of the Angel in the House which is why she keeps on terminating her. The angel would always lurk behind her every time she writes. She keeps on reminding her that Woolf is a young woman writing reviews about works of men, so she ought to be tender, gentle, and always flattering in her words. The Angel in the House apparently symbolizes the recurring problems of being a woman. As a woman, domestic obligation is still attached to them no matter how many feminist movements are formed.

The next predicament that Woolf mentions in her speech is her problem with her body. “But second, telling the truth about my own experiences as a body, I do not think I solved. I doubt that any woman has solved it yet. The obstacles against her are still immensely powerful—and yet they are very difficult to define” (Woolf 303). In this section of her speech, she is referring to the sexual aspect of being a woman of how it could impede the minds of women writers. Apparently, Woolf has become more detailed and literal in her reference to women’s struggles.

It is noticeable that Woolf did not intend to deliver a typical speech about how she became a professional writer as a woman. Instead, she resorted to revealing personal struggles that characterize a woman’s encounters despite the fact that she is already a professional. She stressed the fact that being a professional woman writer is completely different from a being a professional man in any field. She wished to inculcate this idea to the women in The Women’s Service League not to discourage them but to help them face the continuous battle of the sexes in terms of professions. Conclusion

Evidently, Woolf has become too personal in her speech to The Women’s Service League. She did not give a speech of encouragement to the audience but preferred opening their eyes to the reality of being a woman. Like the Angel in the House, she intended to reveal to the audience that trying to become a professional in a certain field requires great strength to endure the demands of domesticity. Work Cited Woolf, Virginia. “Professions for Women. ” On the Contrary: Essays by Men and Women. Eds. Martha Rainbolt and Janet Fleetwood New York: State University of New York Press, 1983. 300-304.

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