“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.”
The most famous line from A Room of One’s Own functions as the thesis of the work which Woolf gave out in the form of various lectures. Woolf delves deep into the history of patriarchy and paints a brilliant thought experiment in this powerful feminist literary piece which speaks of genius restricted.
What if Shakespeare had a sister, say Judith. Woolf remarks that even if this person was talented as him and had capabilities to write and create beautiful lyrics, prose, and plays, would have never ended up with the same fame as him. She wouldn’t have got the same opportunities to go to London on her own and live an independent life learning the arts of theatrics. Her imaginative mind would have been rusted away by the burdens of being in a society that treated women as a household being and her creative juices would have been shut from flowing into the paper.
Woolf concocts this person to be someone who when discovered her wit and imagination tries to shut herself up in a room and write but instead gets forcefully betrothed. While her brother goes on to become a legend, she remains unappreciated and anonymous. Woolf’s words argue that a great part of the world of art got lost due to exclusion and inequality women faced. She said that whenever history spoke of a witch being trialled and denied justice, or a remarkable man’s life being influenced by his mother, the world lost a great artist and their creativity through this continuous ignorance women faced.
Like this story? Become a patron for more!
Throughout the book, Woolf pointed out the only way to set a woman free of her social status is by giving her the education she deserves as a human being. She stated that education will be a boon for women to find their voice in the cacophony of patriarchy. Educating a woman will eventually make a culture-rich society where the discrepancy between genders will be lost.
A Champion of Women Empowerment
Her words stood up for women being marginalised and got given enough space to think, study, question or have a thought process like an intellectual. For ages, society rendered women to be dependent on men financially and thus women lost their voice or means to present their ideas or feelings. The pages speak volumes of how women were discouraged from being creative, and through her portrayal of Judith, she showcases how Judith’s creativity goes into a void of nothingness, being constantly told to fill the shoes of an ‘Ideal woman’ for the society.
Woolf tells that William Shakespeare’s fame was not only due to his talent but also because he was provided with the right opportunities through education and freedom to showcase his creative mind in the public eye – he was given the life he wanted to live, the life of a writer.
Judith Shakespeare here stands up for all those women who were kept away from achieving a life that they wanted because this society continuously silenced them from being what they really could have been – a writer, a painter, a doctor, a politician, an educationist, and so much more than the person living among the four walls taking care of everyone else but herself. Woolf’s book thus made it to my heart which still struggles for equality in the 21st century and formed a foundational read for every woman studying feminist literature or just trying to find their true worth.