In the essay “Shakespeare’s Sister,” Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) discusses the societal conditions that prevented women from pursuing and achieving creative genius in the arts. Woolf argues that if Shakespeare had a sister with the same talent and passion for writing, she would not have had the opportunity to develop and express her creative potential due to the limitations placed on women during that time period.
Woolf identifies several key conditions that she believes are necessary for the promotion of creative genius in both men and women. Here are the main points she makes in her essay:
1. Freedom from financial dependence:
Woolf argues that financial independence is necessary for creative individuals. This is particularly important for women, who in Woolf’s time (and Shakespeare’s time) were often dependent on men for financial support. Without financial independence, women would not have had the means to develop their talents or pursue their artistic passions.
More Notes: Shakespeare’s Sister
2. Access to education:
Woolf asserts that access to education is essential for the development of creative genius. However, in her time (and in Shakespeare’s time), women were often denied access to the same educational opportunities as men. Woolf argues that this lack of education was a major obstacle to the promotion of creative genius among women.
3. Freedom from gender stereotypes:
Woolf argues that the societal expectations and gender stereotypes placed on women also hindered the development of their creative potential. Women were expected to conform to traditional gender roles and were often discouraged from pursuing careers in the arts. This created a culture of conformity that stifled creativity and prevented women from achieving their full potential.
4. Recognition and support:
Woolf argues that women writers need recognition and support from their peers and society. Women writers have historically been overlooked, and their work has not been taken seriously. Here the quotes of Oscar Browning is found,
“The most intelligent of woman is inferior to the least intelligent of man”
Woolf calls for the recognition of women’s creative contributions and the support of their creative endeavors.
5. Freedom from societal expectations:
Women have been expected to conform to societal expectations of femininity, which can limit their creativity. Woolf calls for the liberation of women from these expectations to allow them to express themselves freely. Here we find a vail between women and literature,
“The desire to be veiled still possesses them”
6. Freedom from domestic responsibilities:
Women have traditionally been responsible for domestic chores, which leaves them little time for creative pursuits. Woolf argues that women need to be liberated from these responsibilities to have time and energy to devote to their creativity.
Woolf’s essay “Shakespeare’s Sister” highlights the ways in which societal attitudes and expectations can limit the development of creative genius, particularly among women. She identifies financial independence, access to education, freedom from gender stereotypes, and supportive environments as key conditions necessary for the promotion of creative potential.