Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was an outstanding English feminist writer, literary critic and publisher. Her literary works inspired many writers of interwar and postwar periods. Her style of writing is focused on exploration of the concepts of time and memory, and human inner feelings and consciousness.
In “Professions for Women” published in 1931, Virginia Woolf tells the truth about her own experiences as a woman and as a writer. She refers to the depiction of femininity and her own literary practice, during which she kills a phantom, known as “the Angel in the House”. The author discusses the nature of the profession of a women-writer, analyzing the major obstacles that she has to overcome to achieve success. Considering that in Victorian period, women faced inequality, Virginia Woolf describes women’s occupations with irony. Actually, the author had a motive to kill “The Angel in the House” because of her anger toward the description of femininity of the 19-th century. She wants to come out of the prejudices of the Victorian society, in which women had to sooth men. The writer had to battle with that phantom before she could start reviewing books. Virginia Woolf writes: “Killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer” (27). This statement means women have to fight for social and economic equality. She wants women of all professions to consolidate and fight inequality and prejudices.
I was greatly impressed by Virginia Woolf’s philosophy of life discussed in her essay “Professions for Women”. I think that this piece can help students think and write, especially those girls who face some obstacles in writing. Virginia Wolf’s philosophy can help them to discuss the existing problems and share the knowledge they have gained. This piece might be included in a freshman reader for composition and rhetoric.
Woolf, Virginia. ““Professions for Women” in Dreams and Inward Journeys A Rhetoric and Reader for Writers. Seventh Edition, ed. by Marjorie Ford and Jon Ford.
Last weekend, a record number of demonstrators showed up on America’s streets for the nation-wide Women’s March, holding signs declaring their commitment to women’s rights. RESISTANCE IS FERTILE. GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS. Some sentiments were particularly frustrated: MY ARMS ARE TIRED FROM CARRYING THIS SIGN SINCE THE 1960s.
Of course, the struggle goes back much farther than the sixties, and a certain literary-minded protester who wanted to pay tribute to Virginia Woolf could have evoked a feminist sentiment from the 1930s: KILL THE ANGEL IN THE HOUSE. Maybe not the most playful or immediately clear slogan, but appropriate. It is, after all, Woolf’s birthday on January 25.
In “Professions for Women,” a paper read to the Women’s Service League in 1931, Woolf said that the duty of the woman writer is to kill the Angel in the House. She was borrowing an idea from Coventry Patmore’s 18th-century poem, in which the poet pays tribute to his wife, but in doing so, creates the image of the perfect woman as little more than someone who makes life easier for men.
Woolf is perhaps most famous for advocating on behalf of a specific fundamental right of women writers in A Room of One’s Own. In “Professions for Women” she covers some of the complexities of what happens once a woman has that room with that space to write. In one particularly vivid passage, illustrated here, she explains the way that the patriarchy invades a woman’s ability to write freely, to simply explore her own thoughts without editing them.