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Friday, 14 September 2018

Write on feminism in Virginia Woolf's essay "Women and Fiction"

Woolf - a major British novelist, essayist, and critic- was one of the leaders in the literary movement of modernism. She is famous for using a technique called "stream of consciousness", revealing the lives of her characters by revealing their thoughts and associations. She was also a feminist, socialist, and pacifist who expressed her beliefs and observations in essays such as ''Women and Fiction".
feminism

Before we advance to write on feminism in Virginia Woolf's essay "Women and Fiction" we should know what feminism is and what its goals are. Feminism has been commonly defined as the advocacy of social equality for men and women, in opposition to patriarchy and sexism. In the most basic sense, feminism is the movement for social, political, and economic equality of men and women. Historically it is a very recent movement. Some also suggest that feminism means that women have the right to enough information to make choices about their lives.

Breaking down that one very basic definition, feminism has three components. It is a movement, meaning a group working to accomplish specific goals. Those goals are social and political change implying that one must be engaged with the government and law, as well as social practices and beliefs. And implicit to these goals is access to sufficient information to enable women to make responsible choices. One of the goals of feminism is to bring about changes ensuring equality of both sexes and liberating the individual. Feminism also aims at eliminating gender stratification and sexual violence. It also advocates the sexual autonomy, i.e., women's control over their sexuality and reproduction.

In the essay "Women and Fiction" Virginia Woolf discusses the condition and position of women in the society in relation to fiction. In the essay she, in a very straightforward and honest manner, examines the. position of women in the past. She points out how social and environmental changes initiated by the changes in the law and customs changed the world of women.

In "Women and Fiction" Woolf examines some classic literary women writers of the past and wonders why most, until the 19th century, were written by men, and why most of the works published by women in the 19th Century were fiction. She comes to the logical conclusion that women in the past had little or no time to write because of their childbearing and raising responsibilities. There is also the fact that they Were not educated and were forbidden or discouraged from writing. When they did begin to write, they only had the common sitting rooms of Elizabethan homes to do so in, which did not provide much solitude or peace of mind, as it was open to any interruption and distraction that came along.

Woolf argues passionately that true independence comes with economic well-being. This is true for countries, governments, individuals, and writers, especially female writers. Without financial security it is impossible for any writer to have the luxury of writing for writing's sake.

In the essay "Women and Fiction" Woolf exposes the gender- consciousness that she believes cripples both male and female writers. Most men, she maintains, derogate women to maintain their own superiority; most women are angry and insecure about their inferior status in society. Male writing, then, is too aggressive, whereas women's writing is reactive. Both genders thus obscure their subjects and instead focus on themselves and their own personal grievances. The writer of incandescent genius, Woolf maintains, rises beyond his or her petty gripes and attains a heightened, objective relationship with reality; the subject is the world, not the writers self.

Woolf's feministic attitude is quite evident and explicit in her argument for a new kind of sentence Pattem for women writers to bring home their themes. She believes and maintains that because the sentence form is made by men, it is too loose, too heavy,' too pompous for a woman's use. Woolf believes and preaches that there is the need for women to create a kind of sentence that is distinctly different in "form" from that which men use to create fiction. Woolf, in this regard, is very controversial and vague. Her argument for the need for women to create a kind of sentence that is distinctly different in "form" from that which men use to create fiction is quite ambiguous and controversial. "Women must make a new kind of sentence for herself, "altering and adapting the current sentence until she writes one that takes the natural shape of her thought without crushing or distorting it." This observation might be seen as among the most provocative and puzzling within Woolf's exploration of Women and Fiction. What is probably central to the perspective is the notion that men's and women's minds importantly differ, and that therefore their writing - at its best - will be significantly different in form. Woolf also constantly believes in a different set of values for women.

"Women and Fiction" is considered one of the major works in feminist criticism. Woolf deploys a number of methodologies-- historical and sociological analysis, fictional hypothesis, and philosophy, notably-to answer her initial question of why there have been so few female writers. She ties their minority status largely to socio-economic factors, specifically their poverty and lack of privacy. Her mantra throughout the essay is that a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write creatively. Throughout the essay Wolf is very eloquent for women's superiority in the society. She is writing boldly to establish the rights of women and she ends the essay with an optimistic note by saying that in future women will thrive as genuine writer in all fields of literature- "So, if we may prophecy, women in time to come will write fewer novels, but better novels; and not novels only, but poetry and criticism and history. But in this, to be sure, one is looking ahead to that golden, that perhaps fabulous, age when women will have what has so long been denied them- leisure, and money, and room to themselves."

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