Socrates And Virginia Woolf's Arrogance Masked By Insignificance

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Arrogance Masked by Insignificance Throughout Plato’s Five Dialogues and Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, the main speakers are shown to have landmark ideas about the world and seem to be icons of their respective times. By following their life missions, Socrates and Virginia Woolf aim to improve a society they perceive as flawed. Socrates does this by begging people to question what they know; Woolf does this by writing essays and giving lectures about the importance of women in fiction. Despite have such grandiose goals in life, these characters often undervalue themselves.
Socrates constantly humbles himself during Euthyphro and the Apology and Virginia Woolf tells her readers that her ideas are insignificant and her abilities as a
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He does this so that he will appear more innocent and believable to the jury. When Socrates first hears from the oracle that he is the wisest man, he outright rejects the statement and pledges to visit every allegedly wise man in Athens to see if what the oracle said is true (Plato 26). Socrates does this because he wants to show he is not that wise, or rather, he only has “human wisdom” (Plato 25) but to do so in this way is disrespectful. First of all, to reject what a god has said in such a religious culture seems very disrespectful, and second of all, to go around proving that reputable people are unwise also seems disrespectable. Socrates justifies this investigation as a service to the gods (Plato 26) and also refers to having a “divine or spiritual sign” (Plato 36) that aids him in decision making. To believe that the gods are directly speaking to Socrates seems unrealistic, and for him to claim this is rather presumptuous. One can see that Socrates is trying to make his case justified by stating he has a close connection with the gods, but these claims reveal his arrogance, because no one can really know if they have a connection with the gods, or if they even …show more content…
They both use this technique of understating their abilities to make their audience believe they are not to be revered or feared, and thus their audience will be less hesitant to accept their ideas. Virginia Woolf accomplishes this by telling the audience,
I should never be able to fulfil what is, I understand, the first duty of a lecturer—to hand you after an hour’s discourse a nugget of pure truth to wrap up between the pages of your notebooks and keep on the mantelpiece for ever. All I could do was to offer you an opinion upon one minor point—a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction (Woolf 3-4).
By putting in this kind of disclaimer, it is Woolf’s hope that her readers will identify with her better and more readily accept her ideas. And, just as she does before, she slips in an important point just after she has devalued herself. The “minor point” she mentions is actually her thesis for the entire book and is the inspiration for the title. So it is essential for her readers to come to understand and agree with this “minor point” that she mentions ever so casually. Woolf uses this strategy of downplaying her abilities as a speaker in order to convince the audience of her main argument, which works fairly well due to Woolf’s humility and connection to her

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