According to Virginia Woolf what are the barriers to women becoming a writer

Adeline Virginia Woolf (25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was an English writer, considered one of the most important modernist 20th-century authors and a pioneer in the use of stream of consciousness as a narrative device. In her essay “Shakespeare’s sister,” Virginia Woolf asks and explores the fundamental question of “Why women did not write poetry in the Elizabethan age.”

During that period, Women were treated as servants to provide their husbands with clean homes and proper food and give birth to children. Contemporary women’s rights and freedom were restricted, and they had to endure hardships and disadvantages. Their primary responsibility was to devote themselves to their husband, children, and family. Besides, women were restricted from education, schools, or colleges throughout the Victorian era. Only a few middle-class women were able to get success in some professions, but the rest all suffered from gender injustice. In this essay, Woolf tells the truth about her own battle as a woman and analyzes the significant obstacles she had to overcome to achieve success.

More Notes: Shakespeare’s Sister

To see Shakespeare’s greatest works, Woolf is forced to think that writing poetical work for a woman like Shakespeare in the Elizabethan period is possible. To prove her point, she creates an imaginary character named Judith, whom she calls Shakespeare’s sister. She imagines how Judith might have lived in the context of the circumstances and customs of society during 16th-century England. She might have ended her life in a miserable condition, and in such cases, she couldn’t write anything even if she had a genius like her brother Shakespeare.

It is unthinkable that any woman in Shakespeare’s day should have had Shakespeare’s genius. Such genius is not usually born in centuries. It was not born in England among the Saxons and Britons. It is not born today among the working classes. How, then, could it have been born among women who became housewives before they were out of their teens? Of course, some women of genius were born in some periods of history. They were exceptional cases, like Emily Bronte.

Women were treated like objects that men could treat however they pleased. She quotes Trevelyan, who says, “Wife beating was a recognized right of man, and was practiced without shame by high as well as low… Similarly, the daughter who refused to marry the gentleman of her parents’ choice was liable to be locked up, beaten, and flung about the room, without any shock being inflicted upon public opinion.” Woolf comments on this by saying that a woman was to be considered “property of her husband.” This external obstacle must have played an internal role as well, contributing to the discouragement that women were shown in terms of going against social normalities, which is what a woman writing literature would be considered to be doing.

To conclude, the two main barriers to women’s professional identities are phantoms and problems with themselves.  For example, they must face what society thinks of them and how they see themselves.

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

Articles: 230

Leave a Reply

error: Sorry !!