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...
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