A Room of One's Own

An Audience Member's Perspective on A Room of One's Own

Jordan Reid Berkow

Women's Literature


September 19,1998

An Audience Member's Perspective on A Room of One's Own

A young, female reader of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own would experience an array of emotional responses to the author, ranging from empathy to hostility. Though Woolf is writing to just such an audience in an effort to encourage young women to write fiction, her argument is often self-contradictory and otherwise full of holes. As a young woman in very much the same social situation as many of Woolf's listeners would have been, I find many flaws within the writing that may have alienated the very women whom she was trying to inspire.

Woolf begins A Room of One's Own wonderfully, considering the nature of her audience. It is immediately clear that she is writing for a woman, not for a man. Her apologetic, somewhat defensive tone, which might appear to a man stereotypically weak and "feminine", would appeal to a young, female audience. "[W]hen a subject is highly controversial - and any question about sex is that - one cannot hope to tell the truth. One can only show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold. One can only give one's audience the...

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