A Room of One's Own

Woolf’s Androgyny and the Single Room

In reading A Room of One’s Own, it is difficult to tell whether Virginia Woolf cares more passionately for her gender or for her craft. Guiding the future of the art of fiction, rather than scorning men or even fighting for justice, seems to be the aim of her rather woeful depiction of women throughout history. That is not to say that Room is simply about writing; rather, Woolf’s love of the art has allowed her to use the interaction between gender and writing as a microcosm for a principle that underlies every aspect of human society: creativity, industry, politics, love, and even the mind itself. She argues that human beings -- both individuals and collectives -- cannot reach their full actualization unless both genders are equally realized and joined together. “A room of one’s own” thus prescribes two things for women: first, the actual independence needed to write, and second, a sovereign sense of female identity that will arise only from female freedom. It seems society has already granted the first “room”; nearly eighty years after Woolf’s writing, much of modern society allows women the sort of provisions Woolf marked as necessities for the independent mind. However, while modern society has largely achieved Woolf’s...

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