The Imagery of Androgyny in Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own

Uchida, JoAnn
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Developed from two papers read at Cambridge in October, 1928 (to the Arts Society at Newnham and the Odtaa at Girton), A Room of One's Own is a book written by Virginia Woolf which examines the nature and ramifications of the relationship between the masculine artistic consciousness that has dominated art and fiction, and the feminine artistic consciousness that has been denied expression. This relationship, the author suggests, is unbalanced, unhealthy, and can be rectified only by establishing an androgynous consciousness; that is, a recognition that in each person's mind, male and female traits exist and must cooperate before truly great work can be achieved. The book begins by tracing the narrator's visits to two colleges, the first for men, the second for women. In the men's college, she sits at the bank of a river to reflect on the nature of women and fiction, then walks through the campus, marveling at the opulent buildings, and finally has a sumptuous lunch of partridges, sole, wine and cream. Later, at the women's college, she notes the austere surroundings, the lack of "amenities," and the simple food, which cause her to "burst out in scorn at the reprehensible poverty of our sex" (p. 21).
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