Virginia Woolfs Vision Essay Research Paper Virginia — страница 3

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to woman’s absence from recorded history is to recreate a historical tradition by “think[ing] poetically and prosaically at one and the same moment, thus keeping in touch with fact . . . but not losing sight of fiction either” (44). Her creativity and adaptability serve as catalysts for change. As she leads women through an explanation of society’s failure to nurture women artists, Woolf models a new literary spirit that celebrates female creations. Woolf rejects the reigning supposition that it is “impossible for any woman, past, present, or to come, to have the genius of Shakespeare”(46). Her belief that “the same imaginative capacity that flourished in him would have produced nothing but silence in a female member of the same line” (Zwerdling 225) results in

her creation of Judith Shakespeare, the “female hero of the essay” (Schwartz 722). Woolf powerfully recounts the tragic life of “Shakespeare’s extraordinarily gifted sister” (47) as she struggles to duplicate her brother’s successful artistic career. As Judith’s tragedy progresses from rebellion and ridicule to despair and suicide, the reader is led to “mourn and protest the loss of this woman . . . whose passion finally turned against itself” (Delany 182). Judith symbolizes countless brilliant, talented women who have been unable to express their genius because of society’s prejudice. As Woolf recalls ancient tales of witches and possessed women, and suggests perhaps they were “lost novelist[s],” or “suppressed Poet(s),” or “some mute and inglorious

Jane Austen”(49), her calm, unruffled persona begins to fray. I n spite of her carefully crafted anonymity, Woolf’s own personal indignation is evident in her forceful assertion that “a highly gifted girl who tried to use her gift for poetry would have been so thwarted and hindered by other people, so tortured and pulled asunder by her own contrary instincts, that she must have lost her health and sanity . . . ” (49). Judith Shakespeare bears an uncanny resemblance to Virginia Woolf. Rosenman suggests that Judith “was not a lie, but a version of herself” (161), and Susan Gorsky comments that Woolf “experienced the frustrations of the intelligent woman striving for freedom in an age, a society, and a family unwilling to give it” (118). Certainly, Judith’s

despairing suicide foreshadows Woolf’s own tragic demise. Woolf’s meticulous analysis of the obstacles facing female artists, past and present, is the basis of her argument for an artist’s independence, both in space and income. Her narrator poses the question: “what is the state of mind that is most propitious to the act of creation . . . ?” (51). Woolf answers the query by tracing the meager record of women’s writings through history from Lady Winchilsea to Jane Austen, and by treating her reader to a running commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of each generation of female artists. Rosenman writes that Woolf constructs a female “tradition from the ‘lives of the obscure’ as well as the great . . . . tracing the origin of great accomplishment in ordinary

activities” (146-47). Through historical evidence, Woolf proves that anger and indignation are incompatible with great works of literature, and that a disdain for writing stifles genius. The clarity of mind evidenced in Woolf’s examples of creative genius, William Shakespeare and Jane Austen, requires that the artist be insulated from the stresses and trials of an uncertain life. She describes Austen as “a woman . . . writing without hate, without bitterness, without fear, without protest, without preaching,” and then she notes: “That was how Shakespeare wrote . . . ” (68). A lifestyle that produces these calm, rational emotions must be one free from irritating interruptions and financial worries. Woolf’s reasoning strengthens her original thesis: one needs a room

and an income to write successfully. In addition to economic necessities, Woolf writes that it is essential for women writers to cultivate a distinctive literary form. She notes that Jane Austen and Emily Bront? “wrote as women write, not as men write” (74-75). She distinguishes between a Oman’s sentence” (76) and Austen’s “perfectly natural, shapely sentence” (77) stressing the need for female writers to invent a feminine style. Patrick McGee writes that “with this thought, Woolf anticipates the current interest erutire feminime” (234), and Maggie cites linguistics studies affirming Woolf’s theory: “men and women do use language in different ways, [and] they have different vocabularies in different kinds of sentences”(7). The literary form proposed by