Virginia Woolf Feminist

1673 Words 7 Pages
Virginia Woolf is relatively well known for her ability to provide a feminist perspective on society, as exemplified in her 1927 novel, To the Lighthouse. Woolf has an acute awareness to the damage the domestic sphere can have on women; her writing illustrates the limits and restrictions placed upon them in Victorian culture. These limitations are highlighted not in the trapped and conventional narrative of Mrs. Ramsay, but rather in the struggle for autonomy that Lily and Mrs. Ramsay’s unmarried daughters experience. They act as signs of optimism in the patriarchal world they exist in. Woolf criticizes the expectations for women in the Victorian era through the characterization of Lily Briscoe, the daughters’ rejection of the feminine ideals …show more content…
Ramsay’s daughters cannot run away from the feminine ideals that their mother imposes upon them. Unlike Lily Briscoe, Mrs. Ramsay is the perfect depiction of the Victorian woman; she fills ever aspect of the conventional role of the mother. Firstly, she has a high regard for men:
She had the whole of the other sex under her protection; for reasons she could not explain, for their chivalry and valour, for the fact that they negotiated treaties, ruled India, controlled finance; finally for an attitude towards herself which no woman could fail to feel or to find agreeable, something trustful, childlike, reverential (Woolf 6).
Because of this high regard for men, she urges all of her daughters and even her female houseguests to marry; she plays matchmaker for Minta and Paul and tries to set Lily and William Bankes up. It is clear that the two most important aspects of society to Mrs. Ramsay are men and
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Ramsay’s strong dedication to her conventional role of motherhood is enough to drive her daughters away from it. Her older daughters, Prue, Nancy, and Rose, have radically different ideas of the lives they wanted to lead. These ideas come into focus after Mrs. Ramsey scolds them for mocking Mr. Tansley for sucking up to Mr. Ramsey; her demeanor switches from jovial to “formidable to behold” in an instant to defend him (Woolf 6). Her tendency to be harsher on woman, even in the case of her children, causes the girls to resent her ideals of femininity. They begin to dream of “a wilder life; not always taking care of some man or other” (Woolf 7). Their stream of consciousness unveils their deepest desires and presents the beginning of their resistance to the idea of marriage; however, these yearnings are quickly squashed under their mother’s gaze. They feel the need to “honour her strange severity” and it is this same intensity that drives the girls towards marriage and the orthodox roles that Victorian women fill (Woolf

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