Why does Virginia Woolf say that women will be able to write only when they have a room of their own?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Part of what makes Woolf's work so fascinatingly powerful is the openness of her demands and clarity of her conviction.  This could be no more evident in her assertions behind why she claims women will only be able to write their own works when they are in a "a room of one' s own."  This is a fairly compelling idea in Woolf's work as she outlines the women's place of intellectual and literary history.  The argument she seems to be making is that in order for women to have a place in the literary cannon firmly embedded and enshrined, they must have this "room of their own" in which to work.  Doing this accomplishes several ends.  The first is Woolf's idea that the artist or writer of great literature is something that requires individuals to have to engage in deep and intense rumination, away from others, away from pressing engagements like daily work, and focus on what be done to ensure that women's status in literary acceptance is one that is on the rise.  The other reason why Woolf suggests the need for their own room is based in the idea that the male dominated setting has relegated women to a role that will prevent a full actualization of their capacities and capabilities.  Achieving the separation needed in this metaphorical "room of one's own" becomes an active statement of defiance that shows the commitment of both artists and the women who wish to be a artist.

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A Room of One's Own

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