Why would it have been impossible for a woman to write Shakespeare's plays according to Virginia Woolf in A Room of One's Own?
Virginia Woolf convincingly demonstrates that it was impossible—not merely that it would have been impossible—for any woman to write plays like those that William Shakespeare wrote. As she insightfully but humorously presents the numerous obstacles that kept women from writing, Woolf encourages the reader to re-think not only the concept of “genius”—which is so often applied to Shakespeare—but also of the numerous different occupations that the young man had; these included actor and manager as well as writer.
Woolf elaborates the social circumstances in which even upper-class girls lived in sixteenth-century England. She explains that they were expected to stay at home and learn arts and skills appropriate to females and were discouraged from reading (except possibly the Bible) and writing. She points to the double standard that allowed William to marry and leave his wife and children in Stratford while he journeyed to London and...
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This line comes from Chapter One, and its enigmatic and elusive tone regarding the true identity of the narrator is maintained throughout the text. Woolf and the narrator both struggle with the same issues, but they are two distinct entities. The narrator is a fictionalized character—an invention of Virginia Woolf—and she remains vague about her true identity. In this quotation she even instructs the reader to refer to her by different names. This lack of one “true” identity for the narrator gives A Room of One’s Own a sense of being universal: the ideas apply to all women, not just one. The lack of one identity also makes the narrator more convincing. By taking on different identities, the narrator transcends one single voice, and consequently she makes herself a force to be reckoned with. Her blasé attitude about something that is considered fixed and important by most people—identity—makes her all the more intriguing.