The Androgynous Ideal; Androgyny in Virginia Woolf’s Writing 12th Grade

In the works of Virginia Woolf freedom is an often unattainable ideal. Woolf discusses freedom at great length in her texts, ranging from the broader freedom of the individual to live as they please in her fiction to the creative freedom of the artist in her nonfiction. There are a few instances in her work where freedom becomes a possibility in both the lives of the individual at large and the artist. The titular character of Orlando is able to live a life that defies definition due to their ever-changing gender, while in the book length essay A Room of One’s Own Woolf provides the writer with a more creatively limitless form of writing. Both of these works present different types of freedom, personal and artistic, but the catalyst for these freedoms is the same: androgyny. Androgyny, for Woolf, is a liberating state, one that allows us to distort or escape what she sees as the most constraining discourse in our society: gender. In fact, Woolf presents androgyny as the state in which the individual is the freest. This essay will argue that Woolf’s writing explores a concept of freedom, both personal and artistic, only achievable through a distortion and rejection of gender through androgyny, looking at the subversive life of...

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