“Lock up your libraries if you like;
but there is no gate, no lock,
no bolt that you can set
upon the freedom of my mind.”
If Shakespeare had a sister as talented as he, would she have got the same opportunities to develop her skills?
Constructed around Woolf’s idea that to write fiction a woman must have money and a room of her own, this revolutionary work depicts a woman’s predicaments as she struggles deep within for someplace of her own where she can work without restrictions. it brings forth the differences, biases and conventional attitudes that have caused immense suffering to women across the centuries.
A major work of the twentieth-century feminist literature, a Room of One’s Own is an extended essay based on a series of lectures titled ‘Women and Fiction’ delivered at two women’s colleges in Cambridge. More than half a century after its publication, this book continues to be an inspiration for women across the globe.
I was introduced to “A Room of One’s Own” in a classroom. When my literature professor mentioned in passing a lecture given by Virginia Woolf that posed more questions than it answered. But I suppose that is exactly what she wanted when she made the iconic statement that ” a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”. She questions the fate of women in fiction by drawing parallels between Shakespeare’s career path and what the fate of his equally talented sister would have been if he had one. Would she have had the same opportunities as him? Would she have been given a chance to develop her talents?
She wanted women to question the status quo. She wanted us to challenge the norms, to ask why society is set the way it is. She does the same in her lecture. One could say that literature, nature and the passage of time are her literary devices. She is weaving a tale of her times, the times past and the times to come while keeping women and fiction at the center.
It is amazing how much one can take for granted and how much women had to struggle in the past so that we can have a room of our own, so that we can afford opportunities of employment, so that we can be allowed in institutions of knowledge and libraries with immense history and wisdom preserved in them are today open for our perusal. It wasn’t always this case. As she highlights through her witty and thought stirring work. Virginia Woolf’s seminal work, ” A Room of One’s Own” is a must-read for women across the world, from all walks of life. There is a little bit of all of us in it, and there is so much to gain from the wisdom that resides in it.
My Favourite Quotes:
1. “Fiction must stick to facts and the truer the facts the better the fiction.”
2. “No need to be anybody but oneself.”
3. “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well if one has not dined well”
4. “I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out, and I thought how it is worse perhaps to be locked in.”
5. “Wise men never say what they think of women? Wise men never say anything else apparently.”
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