Women and Writing Themes

Women and Writing Themes

Curating the female voice

The female voice is something Woolf feels particularly passionate about, as the title suggests, and she makes a strong case that the readers take a deeper look at their own beliefs. She notices that on her bookshelf as a child, there were very few books written by women, and of the serious novels, there were only a few women authors whatsoever, and among those, Woolf found only Jane Austen to be a true womanly writer. Why had her culture become so deprived of the female experience? Why shouldn't young girls have the opportunity to read books written by enlightened, powerful women? She challenges the status quo in this novel with these questions.

Artistic heritage

Artistic heritage is a major factor of Woolf's opinion. She knows that her own art is partially a response to her experience of art, but in this case, the art she is responding to is largely art that doesn't make her feel like she has a valuable voice. She feels that we should bolster our artistic heritage by making art that is true to who we are, and then by making sure young girls and boys get a chance to read artists from different points of view.

Diversity in literature

Woolf feels that there is a standard definition for what art "should be," in her time, because the field is dominated by white male voices. She isn't saying that those voices should be removed or supplanted; she is just arguing for diversity. Woolf feels that more people need to reap the rewards of artistic community, but without people feeling that they are allowed to participate, women and minorities are often disenfranchised. She feels diversity should be celebrated, encouraged, and cultivated.

The function of art

For Woolf, the broader importance of her argument is rooted in her art theory. She views art as a kind of communal exchange of ideas, and when all the exchange is done in one point of view, then only people who resonate with that standard point of view will enjoy the art in the true sense of artistic appreciation. She argues that literature is about sharing our points of view, so we should never let our sense for style become exclusivistic. Just because someone's art is different, that doesn't mean it's wrong—in Woolf's art theory, different varieties of artistic style is healthy and should be encouraged, because then art reaches more people, and more people feel they can contribute.

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