Virginia Woolf launched her writing profession in the e year 1905. She represents the increased interests among women in engaging in writing especially after 1970-somethoing she views as powerful. She is among the most brilliant modernist whose work is contributed highly in the new criticism era. This paper analyses and interprets her work on feminism as well as gender issues. Virginia Woolf was of the opinion that every woman writer must seek to identify a way in which she can voice her concern in the literary environment that is dominated by male.
This is evident by her expression that “the pools, the depths, the dark places where the largest fish slumber. ” She was of the opinion that women writers encounter conflicts between their identity and sexuality. Woolf provides a rich insight in processes that are socioeconomic in nature. She blames the patriarchy society for occupational discrimination against women. The inequality and segregation in wages that favored men was evident in her work. She also raised concern on social exclusion and spheres that were separately imposed on people and especially the women.
Both her novels as well as the dairies she kept on her personal matters indicated her concern on distributive justice. Her works were highly influenced by the social environment that surrounded her. Her works helps the readers to identify gender boundaries as a result of the social economic thought and the social philosophy that runs all through her work. Her social economic thought did not only criticize male patriarchy but also social elitism both in men as well as women. (Plain G, 1996, pp. 60-62; http://www. bridgew. edu/SoAS/JIWS/may00/bechtold. htm )
She was very concerned about valuation of work. In the patriarchal society of that time, Woolf realized that the work that women did irregardless of whether it was paid or unpaid work was not valued appropriately. She equated these women work with that of soldiers who constantly engage in other people’s wars and get very little income in exchange. She further moves a step ahead and considers the potentiality of labor. She also discusses women’s work that is paid and tat which is not and suggestively questions the reasons for not rewarding all work done by women just like that which men did.
She questions the amount of money that women received for their labor If any, and indicated the need to revise these wage payment in order to bring them abreast. In one of her works, three guineas, she argues that women who do much and the most important work get nothing while archbishops receive 15000 pounds even though their work is very little as compared to that of women. In yet another work, Room of ones own, Woolf calls for socially distributive justice that will consider the individual’s potential at work but not the work that the individual actually performs.
In the same work, she also argues that there is a relationship between women writers, their characteristics, as well as how they are portrayed in fictions. She also examines the conditions which are necessary for enabling the women to actively participate in fiction writing. In the chapter one of this book, a room of one’s own, it is ironical that despite the fact that men as well as women financed the building of Oxbridge, only the male elites had the permission to visit it while women who managed to get to the grass were charged with trespassing.
She also featured on this idea in three guineas where Arthur’s Education Fund (AEF) was supposed to be raised by every person, even female siblings, but was not supposed to benefit the women. The fund was supposed to be distributed to young men in order to meet their college expenses and an additional of years after the college to meet their day to day expenses. ( http://www. bridgew. edu/SoAS/JIWS/may00/bechtold. htm ; Cornut C, Arcy G, Landa A, 1996, pp. 196-199)
Woolf questions the different feeding habits in female and male societies where men’s food was far much better as compared to that of women. In chapter two of the book, three guineas, she reveals that the professors of that time were only males who viewed women to be incapable and hence justifying the high level of poverty among women. She also reveals the fact that only men in her times were believed to be knowledgeable and owners of both money and power that could influence others.
Woolf observes that, women have the potential which is partially expressed and partially suppressed. She clearly indicates the importance of valuing both women’s potential as well as their work if social justice is to be realized. Due to the negative impacts of war especially on women, Woolf views protested not only fascism but also war. She was of the opinion that wars led to death and hence injustices that suppressed unrealized potentials. (Spector J, 1986, pp30-42; http://www. bridgew. edu/SoAS/JIWS/may00/bechtold.
htm) . Woolf did not support the idea of totalitarianism but chose to support egalitarianism. She was of the opinion that all laborers were supposed to get equal wages depending on their potential. Even though she came from a privileged social class, she didn’t attend school. In her book, , three guineas(1938), she actually complains that more money is used to finance men’s education who always like to be at war simply because they have been taught to use but not to avoid the use of force.
She compares the time that men have enjoyed university education with that of women, that is, 600 years for men and 60 years for women, and ends up with some resolutions as follows. She supports the idea of building a woman’s fashioned college, educating women and protection of culture as well as intellectual property. She is of the opinion that war can only be prevented through assertion of people’s rights and the realization of both justice as well as liberty in the society. Her fictions and dairies bring out four themes as depicted in the three guineas, that is,
“parallels between women and soldiers; an implicit theory of value based on viewing human tasks as rooted in provisioning; a sense of distributive justice which nevertheless remains upper class; and blueprints for characters in the two social treatises that are sometimes surprising and occasionally even cross gender lines”. http://www. bridgew. edu/SoAS/JIWS/may00/bechtold. htm She equated women to soldiers in the sense that women loose weight as a result of the low income they obtain from the cumbersome work they do while soldiers become emaciated as a result of the long period of time they spend in trenches.
Similar to soldiers most of the women’s potential is unrealized and wasted. Women lack personal choice. This is depicted in the three guineas when Jacob’s mother remembers her husband who had died and realizes that she had no choice and her work was centered to helping others. In both the room of one’s own as well as three guineas, Woolf had realized the problem that underlined value concept as perceived in the social philosophy of that time. (http://www. bridgew. edu/SoAS/JIWS/may00/bechtold.
htm ; Plain G, 1996, pp. 60-62) References Brigitte Bechtold, More Than a Room and Three Guineas: Understanding Virginia Woolf’s Social Thought; Retrieved from http://www. bridgew. edu/SoAS/JIWS/may00/bechtold. htm on 10th June, 2008. Cornut C, Arcy G, Landa A, 1996, Gender, I-deology: Essays on Theory, Fiction and Film, Rodopi Plain G, 1996, Women’s Fiction of the Second World War: Gender, Power and Resistance, Edinburgh University Press Spector J, 1986, Gender Studies: New DireSample Essay of AssignmentExpert.com