How does this book reflect the Modern period?
- Does the opening violate expectations? How does it
differ from conventional openings? Who is Woolf’s audience? Why is the book
- Why does the essay start with the word “But”?
- How do men write? What is the convention that lectures,
most of them by men, follow? Do we get a “nugget” from Woolf?
- What does par. 1 set out as the focus/purpose of the
- What does she count on the reader/listener to do?
- What two locations will she describe? How are the names
- What do you make of the name Woolf assumes?
- What metaphor does she use for a thought? What happens
to it in par. 3? Why?
- Whom does she encounter in par. 4? What seems odd about
- In par. 5, does she seem angry? Cf. par. 16.
- In par. 5, how does she digress?
- What conclusion is she moving toward at the end of par.
- What male convention is identified in par. 6, and what
female convention does she introduce?
- Consider the excerpts from Tennyson and Christina
Rossetti: what are the differences between them?
- What is the purpose of the Manx cat? What relationship
does this image have to WWI?
- What is she talking about in par. 12? And what point
can you make about her missing the turn to Fernham? See also page 38 top.
- Why the apparent change of seasons in par. 13? Whom
does she now encounter? Different from the Beadle?
- How is the meal at Fernham different from the one at
Oxbridge? And what’s up with that?
- What points about money does she make in par. 16?
- In par. 19, does she make good on her promise to let
readers make their own conclusions?
- In Chapter Two, what does Woolf say about the
relationship between men and women? What is the source of this attitude?
- What has saved the speaker from the fate of the average
- Consider page 40: "Moreover, in a hundred years, I
thought,…women will have ceased to be the protected sex. Logically they will
take part in all the activities and exertions that were once denied them." Is
- What does Chapter Three say about the situation of women
in Elizabethan England? Is Woolf exaggerating?
- Comment on Woolf's description of Shakespeare's sister.
- Is it clear why Woolf thinks that women need money and a
room of their own?
- How does Woolf account for Shakespeare's greatness on
- Why was the novel a favorite form for women writers?
(67, 71, 77)
- How are women novelists limited? (70-71)
- What does Woolf have to say about Jane Eyre?
- How is the novel a "fitting receptacle" for men who wish
to write about women? (83)
- What image do we get on 96 (Chapter 6, par. 2), and what
does it suggest? Cp. the fish in Chapter One.
- What is an androgynous mind, and what does Woolf mean by
“man-womanly” and “woman-manly”? (98, 104)
- Which male writers have androgynous minds? (98, 103)
- Is it really true that women and men have different
writing styles? Is Woolf right or wrong? (99)
- According to Woolf, what characterizes men's writing?
- Does Woolf blame one sex over the other? (103)
- What’s the irony of the point Woolf makes?
- How does Woolf respond to the following two criticisms?
- Page 105: "No opinion has been expressed, you may
say, upon the comparative merits of the sexes even as writers."
- Page 106: "Next I think that you may object that in
all this I have made too much of the importance of material things."
- How and why is Woolf’s style different in this section?
41. Woolf makes comments about men's portrayal of women in
previous literature on pages
- 35-36: "Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses
possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at
twice its natural size. Without that power probably the earth would
still be swamp and jungle. The glories of all our wars would be unknown.
We should still be scratching the outlines of deer on the remains of mutton
bones and bartering flints for sheepskins or whatever simple ornament took our
unsophisticated taste," etc. "...mirrors are essential to all violent
and heroic action."
- 43: "...women have burnt like beacons in all the works of all the
poets from the beginning of time...."