Why, in Woolf's view, did Elizabethan women not write poetry?

In Woolf's view, Elizabethan women didn't write poetry because society strongly discouraged it. She uses the fictitious figure of Shakespeare's sister to illustrate the point.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

According to Woolf's thesis, it's not so much that Elizabethan women didn't write poetry as it is that there were no outlets for their expression. Despite there being a queen on the throne, and a very powerful, forceful queen at that, society in those days was profoundly hostile to the very idea of women engaging in writing poetry or any other creative pursuit. That being the case, it wasn't that women couldn't write poetry—they were not somehow incapable—but rather that society made it impossible for them to be taken seriously as poets.

Woolf illustrates her point that it is the social environment that hobbles women's natural genius and talent by telling the story of Shakespeare's fictitious sister, Judith. Despite being blessed with as much genius as her brother, Judith is expected to get married at an early age and take on the traditional role of a housewife and mother.

Even when she breaks free from her oppressive home environment and heads off to London to make it as a...

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 964 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team