Three Guineas Literary Elements

Three Guineas Literary Elements


Non-fiction novel-essay

Setting and Context

The setting of the book is in the United Kingdom in 1936-1937 before the start of the Second World War that was already looming.

Narrator and Point of View

The narrator of the book is Virginia Woolf who is responding to a letter by an unknown educated gentleman. She writes the response to herself because she does not have a way to put across her points of view. She also believes that it is impossible for educated men to understand her point of view.

Tone and Mood

The author uses tonal variation to influence the mode of the readers. The tone used by the author is sympathetic and sarcastic.
The author evokes emotions in the readers through use of setting, tone and diction. The mood created is sympathy, anxiety and frustration to create an atmosphere that ensures emotional attachment to the reading.

Protagonist and Antagonist

In the essay, the author- Virginia Woolf is the protagonist who champions for no-violent means of conflict resolution and gender equality. On the other hand, the military officers, the government, religious leaders and the other leaders in the positions of power are the antagonists who are against changes that promote gender equality, non-violent means of problem solving and a better society.

Major Conflict

The major conflict in the essay is equality of the genders where women are oppressed and are perceived as secondary beings to men. Another major conflict is the looming second world war and there is need for a non-violent means of conflict resolution. Lastly, there is gender discrimination in sponsorship of education by the government with the preference of boys education being favored against girls education.


The climax is when the author discusses the need for women to discard the conditions in the society that lead to gender oppression and advocates for recognition of equal rights for women. She argues that the men have refused to leverage power by ensuring that women are not educated to understand the language that is understandable and persuades educated men.


Foreshadowing has been used by the author to foretell the happenings of the future. For example, foreshadowing is evident in the statement "With that song, or
something like it, ringing in our ears we cannot send our guinea to the honorary treasurer without warning her that she shall only have it on condition that she shall swear that the professions in future shall be practised so that they shall lead to a different song and a different conclusion."


There use of understatement in the essay which presents the subjects as less significant than they really are. For example, the author addresses women in the statement below as unknown to their responsibilities which feel is an understatement. ''It is probable that this so-called liberty came with the war, when women assumed responsibilities so far unknown to them''.


The author has used allusions to call something to mind without directly mentioning them. For example in the statement '' Now why should not you, too, follow their example and create such a society in England?'', the author is referring to Christians in America.


The author uses imagery to describe visual images.For example, "And therefore it would be well not to depend on our own private noses, but to call in evidence from outside." In the statement private noses means prying a person privately.


The author uses paradox to express points that are not only valid but also self-contradictory. Paradox is evident in the statement 'Here, immediately, are three reasons which lead your sex to fight; war is a profession; a source of happiness and excitement;
and it is also an outlet for manly qualities, without which men would deteriorate'. This point of view is valid but it is self-contradictory as men succeed in other areas that do not require physicality such as politics and finance.


Parallelism has been used to show correspondence in the essay. For example; "And then a petition was got up to the Royal Academy; its schools were actually, though as so often happens only nominally, opened to women in 1861;39 next Barbara went into the question of the laws concerning women; so that actually in 1871 married women were allowed to own their property; and finally she helped Miss Davies to found Girton." The words nominally, actually and finally can be said to be in parallelism.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

The author has used metonymy in several instances. For example, she has used words such as 'danger' to mean 'war' and 'light' to mean 'solution'.

The author has used synecdoche in several instances to represent a whole as evident when he says 'fact so solid indeed that it cast a shadow over the entire landscape'. In the sentence, 'entire landscape' meant the entire United Kingdom.


The author has used personification in several instances to give life to non-living things as evident in the statement when she writes "What is that congregation of buildings there, with a semi-monastic look, with chapels and halls and green playing fields?". In the statement, the buildings have been given human abilities by being described as a congregation.

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