Wollstonecraft wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Women In 1797. Her tract was based on the enlightenment that she used in many of her arguments. She believed that reason, rationality and virtue lead to a better society. She also believed that reason and education would improve the status of women, and that the improvement of women leads to the improvement of society.
Some of the most important principles of feminism are relying on rationality, voicing your pinion, developing the right terminology and that gender definitions are based on social norms. Another feminist who influenced Woolf was John Stewart Mill who discussed another Important principle of feminism, understanding what “nature” Is. He argued that what goes by the name “unnatural” generally means “uncustomary. Feminism debates what society thinks Is unnatural. He believes that the subjection of women is a universal custom making feminism a universal issue.
Mill also argues that women have always been subjected to men so one cannot claim that It Is it natural. He asserts that to decide what is natural is highly debatable. What Is now called the nature of women is an artificial result of forced repression and unnatural stimulation where women are treated as a commodity. Being influenced by other feminists and her own personal experiences, Virginia Woolf developed her own feminist tract A Room of One’s Own in 1929. It has been called the “founding book of feminist literary criticism”.
The book covered the following principles. The book opens with Woolf announcing her maln argument. women need to be free to have their own economical independence and have their own identity. Only when they have their own sanctuary of ones self, can they have artistic freedom which means being economically independent and not having to write Just in order to make money. Woolf Insists that poverty Is key and women were not allowed to own anything, Just as John Stewart Mill and Mary Wollstonecraft claimed that women were repressed.
Women have been Impoverished and undereducated that is the reason they were few female writers, not because women were useless and did not know how to write. Women were made Inferior, Woolf continues by speaking about the British Library, hich was under patriarchal rule. Woolf could only go to specific places in the library and eat In certain places as well. That shows that men governed the society and they were considered to be the more superior and capable gender.
The narrator then moved on to another point, stating that the superiority of men is constantly being reinforced In literature. The weakness of women was structured by men. Woolf insists that the weakness of women is not innate; it is because women were repressed into being the way they were. Men continuously reinforced the stereotype nternalizing that form of reception and values. Woolf then proposes a question: ” If women are so Inferior then why are there so many Interesting heroines in literature? showing us that the role of exceptional female characters was highlighted. However, 1 OF2 traditional roles were considered far less important than men’s. Woolf believed that we should change the status of women’s “work” which is domestic and not belittle the role of women, instead reconceptualize the role of women. Woolf also believed that if you confine women into a limited environment how do you expect them to write bout something else? Women are confined to the domestic sphere, which limits their writing abilities.
Great art is produced by those who are free in mind and spirit. If women write knowing that they will be disapproved of or laughed at this will affect the quality of their work. Freedom and creativity go hand in hand. Woolf believes the first great writer is Jane Austen. She also believes that writing is not about gender, it is about something much deeper. Finally Woolf argues that the truly great minds are androgynous which means belonging to neither sex. A writer should be neither asculine nor feminine but a combination of both.
Virginia Woolf’s themes in her feminist tract are equal opportunity for both sexes, which does not mean erasing differences, but to “invalidate the gender class system”. One must differentiate and realize that equal opportunity does not mean melting away the differences between male and female. Another theme that was covered was truth versus opinion. One must distinguish between theory and opinion from truth. The third and final theme is changing men’s attitudes towards women, and more crucially women’s attitudes towards themselves.
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