English Composition 121

The hidden world of Woolf

          When I wrote the first draft of my essay, I didn’t think I would ever have a project that even gets close to talking about Virginia Woolf. I have heard her name and have been told to read her books and I said that I would and time passed as it does and I forgot all about her. For this class, we even had to read one of her works, “A room of One’s Own.” However, as interesting as it was, I also found it boring. I found that it lacked a lot of experiences and factors and I could not relate to her as much as I should have. I know I was supposed to have a deep emotional reaction to the piece, but I could not. It was as if I had to put myself in another person’s body to relate. Writing this I am wondering why that was? What was her life like? How was it different than mine?  Is there something that happened to her that didn’t happen to me? I am focusing on 3rd wave feminism and how it differs from the feminism I often witness in the United States of America. Virginia Woolf is a key figure of this feminism (Even though she was from the United Kingdom). Many times while reading ““A room of One’s Own” I felt as if she had this privilege and lacked a knowledge of my kind of feminism, so I wanted to dig deeper into her life and see if I was right and there was a certain privilege she had in life.

          Virginia Woolf was born in January 24, 1882  in London. What I found particularly interesting was that she lived through two world wars. She died in 1941 at the age of 59, just a few years before World War II ended. The first sentence in the second paragraph of her wikipedia page states that she was born into affluent household. I could have ended my research on why I didn’t relate to her experiences now because the answer was clear: She was born into a well off family. Even when I read her work in class, I could feel the privilege she had. However, I wanted to know more about her and how she grew up. In her family, the boys went off to get a college, while the girls were homeschooled and received an education on English classics and Victorian literature. I assume this is where her love for writing stemmed from. As I was reading about her summer home, I didn’t feel like I related to her at all. However, as I kept reading I found out about her first mental breakdown. When Virginia was young, her mother died in 1895. If that wasn’t bad enough, her step sister and surrogate mother also passed away. This is very important to both me and my project because I focused a big part of it on the women in my family. In my feminism, women are very important, because it is through my mother where I learned everything. My mother was the first one to teach me how to love and be happy, but also how unfair the world is to women. Losing such important female figures so young in your life means losing a key part of the way you learn about the rest of the world.

              Woolf began to write professionally around 1900, after being encouraged by her father. However, soon after he passed away in 1905, which caused her to have another mental breakdown. Another aspect of my project was the mental health of the hidden women I am writing about. Usually these women I write about have hidden mental breakdowns or have to force their emotions down for the better of others. It is interesting to see the way in which Woolf deals with mental health. She later got married and moved to Sussex where she and her husband founds a printing press. Woolf struggled throughout her life with mental illness and had attempted suicide at least twice. In 1941, she committed suicide by drowning herself. I went into this essay excepting to find the life of a privileged women, who I couldn’t relate to. I wanted to go into this finding someone to attack in my project. Instead I found a woman that I could relate to. I found one that every women could relate to. She is important because even if her feminism is more privileged than mine, it shows that every single women is has to carry so much of the world. Every women has something they have to deal with that is hidden to the world and fighting a battle. 

One thought on “The hidden world of Woolf

  1. Dhipinder Walia

    Thanks Xhesika. Quick suggestions: Don’t feel obligated to connect to the histories of feminists, you might see if there’s a connection you have to their published texts. Additionally, don’t feel obligated to find a connection to texts published 100 years ago. Rather, like new historicists suggest, use texts like A Room of One’s Own to suggest the influence these beliefs or ideologies have in today’s world, today’s feminism.


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