Women Domestic Lives in early 20th Century In Virginia Woolf’s essays, entitled “The Professions for Women” and “Virginia Woolf”, she describes women’s domestic lives in the early 20th century. Woolf’s writing also sets the scene for a period when women’s place existed in the private sphere, while men’s place was the public. The aim of this paper is to explore the domestic lives of women through the lens of marriage, social class and domesticity by reviewing the writings of Virginia Woolf, Alice Wood’s essay, “Made for Measure”, Susan Glaspell’s play, “Trifles”, and Alice Dunbar-Nelson’s poem, “I Sit and Sew”.
Until very recent history, women struggled to survive in a “man’s world.” Whether it was art, literature, music, politics, or law, women faced a vast obstacle – their gender. The society was not ready to accept that women could be as competitive, as smart, as powerful, as ambitious and as passionate as men. Most women agreed to degrade their intellect and suppress their ambition, because that seemed to be easy at the
More recently, the awarded Canadian writer Margaret Atwood has also focused mainly on women’s issues and has been regarded as a feminist writer. In “The Handmaid’s Tale”, published in 1986 Margaret Atwood portrays a strongly feminist view of a dystopian society, in which women have been deprived of all their rights. Both of these writers are representatives of the female feminist writers who have let their footprint in our literary history, and each of them expressed her concerns on women’s rights according to the time they were living in. In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf (1929) emphasizes the inequity of treatment for women throughout times that still persists in her society, and promotes her thesis that "a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction" (p. 6).
In her essay, “The Importance of Work,” from The Feminine Mystique published in 1963, Betty Friedan confronts American women’s search for identity. Throughout the novel, Betty Friedan breaks new ground, concocting the idea that women can discover personal fulfillment by straying away from their original roles. Friedan ponders on the idea that The Feminine Mystique is the cause for a vast majority of women during that time period to feel confined by their occupations around the house; therefore, restricting them from discovering who they are as women. Friedan’s novel is well known for creating a different kind of feminism and rousing various women across the nation.
The revolution of female liberation from Victorian practices ushered in an age of freedom of action for many women. Young adults were able to pursue romantic entanglements without supervision, and women could go out alone on the street. However, the Gilded Age’s fabricated grandeur held true for women’s rights as well. While joining the workforce was a major stride in itself, an inability to gain recognition for one’s work and a perpetual position of subservience to men in the workplace exemplified a less appealing actuality. The architect of the Women’s Building, Sophia Hayden, is now hailed as a skilled architect, but failed to garner the same respect as her male counterparts during the Fair.
Her subjective female voice challenges the gender expectations of the Victorian Era. In the 19th century, strict social rules guided the interaction of men and women. Victorian women weren’t allowed to meet men without permission or supervision. Additionally, most marriages were based on money and materialistic means.
(Woolf 33); she always tries to seek changes, specifically the changes of gender roles in the society. Doris Kilman is another female figure in the novel that expresses the rights of woman to be able to choose their occupation freely, “all professions are open to women of your generation” (Woolf
The role of a woman in society has always fit into a perfect box. Women were expected to be the dutiful wife, loving mother and housekeeper for her family. Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique, in 1963 hoping to unveil the truth behind women’s thoughts about their role in society. Friedan exposed that things were not always, as they seemed for the average mother and homemaker in the 1950s and 1960s. Kate Chopin wrote The Awakening in the 1850’s which told the story of Edna Pontillier and her struggles as a housewife and finding her true identity.
In each woman’s encounter with their personal challenge, this goal is expressed in a form specific to them. Audiences see this interest of reaching equal status conveyed through the work and intentions the women produce. The female characters present a side to themselves that, at times, switch the gender roles their society is accustomed to. At other points, women’s abilities to lead in times of distress or confusion establish themselves as the same types of leaders that society grows to associate with men. Finally, the female character’s voicing of society’s unjust contradictory standards for women furthers paints the idea of a movement towards equality.
In past years, women have always been considered to be less than man when it comes to working and having the same abilities. For women, different opportunities were uncommon and they usually were not allowed to work on a man’s job. This was considered to be the long-term effects of gender inequalities, which also included discriminations and differences in job payments, opportunities to study, or even to publish written works or artworks made by women. In past times, women had to hide their names whenever they wanted to have their artwork shown. Generally, women were not allowed to be recognized or known for something that used to be in a man’s world.
Women’s role in society was completely redefined after the passing of the 19th Amendment, women’s suffrage, on August 18, 1920. For centuries, men defined women; the world was male-centered and male-dominated. Male philosophers and social theorists were the ones who identified woman with disorder, savagery, chaos, unreason, and the excluded “other.” According to James Branch Cabell women were considered nothing more than conveniences; they were useful for keeping a household as well as for copulation and pleasure (McConnaughy 112). The turn of the century and its many changes, industrialization in particular, gave a number of women the chance to work outside of the home.
Professions for Women At the beginning of the 19th century, ideas of the roles of men and women has taken a turn as women take a stand to encourage other women to overcome obstacles that society’s perspectives of gender roles confine them in. Women’s conflict to find their voice during this time struggle has taken a turn in the evolving male-dominated society. An English writer, Virginia Woolf, delivered her speech “Professions for Women”, published in 1931 for the National Society for Women’s Service, and she argues that it is important for women stand up for themselves and allow their imagination to flow despite society’s oppression. Woolf begins with building her credibility with personal anecdotes, expresses the phantoms that limit women’s
Woman writers, poets, and thinkers began to create the early foundations for feminist thought and logic during this time. One of the pioneering voices in this emerging feminist movement was Virginia Woolf. Woolf, in her essay A Room of One’s Own tries to address the question of creativity between the sexes, and under what conditions does creativity flourish. Using a very poetic narrative style, Woolf explores several ideas in her attempt to understand the differences in the creative faculties of men and women. She explores themes relating to poverty and education, stating the relative difference in wealth between men and women.
During the 1890’s until today, the roles of women and their rights have severely changed. They have been inferior, submissive, and trapped by their marriage. Women have slowly evolved into individuals that have rights and can represent “feminine individuality”. The fact that they be intended to be house-caring women has changed.
One of the most significant works of feminist literary criticism, Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One`s Own”, explores both historical and contemporary literature written by women. Spending a day in the British Library, the narrator is disappointed that there are not enough books written by or even about women. Motivated by this lack of women’s literature and data about their lives, she decides to use her imagination and come up with her own characters and stories. After creating a tragic, but extraordinary gifted figure of Shakespeare’s sister and reflecting on the works of crucial 19th century women authors, the narrator moves on to the books by her contemporaries. So far, women were deprived of their own literary history, but now this heritage is starting to appear.