Antony and Cleopatra

Virginia Woolf and William Shakespeare

Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” offers a major piece of literary analysis with an eye towards the ever evolving role of the female author. During Woolf’s discussion of past and present writers, she repeatedly refers to the work of William Shakespeare, specifically his play Antony and Cleopatra, as a model for an “ideal” writing style that authors should revere. In her essay, Woolf is clear in her contention that Shakespeare possessed a rare form of authorial style that few could match, on multiple occasions referring to Shakespeare’s writing as “incandescent” and “free of impediment.” His writing was truly successful, Woolf claims, because of his ability to express true creative genius without allowing his personal beliefs, prejudices or agenda to interfere with the integrity of his work, and thus permitting an ultimate interpretation that stems directly from the reader. By viewing specific passages from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, readers can witness his use of deliberately indistinct word choice in character description as well as the utilization of metaphor that serve to exemplify this incandescent and “unimpeded” style that Woolf holds in such a high regard throughout the course of her own writing.

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