A Room of One's Own

by Virginia Woolf

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What is Woolf's view on anger in "A Room of One's Own" and its relation to her writing style?

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In "A Room of One's Own," Virginia Woolf presents anger as something to be examined and understood, both in the professor and in herself. This attitude influences her clear, controlled writing style.

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Let's examine what Virginia Woolf has to say about anger in "A Room of One's Own." Woolf describes a time when she is sitting in a class of some sort, sketching a picture of a professor who has written a scathing account on the inferiority of women. Woolf draws the man as angry and ugly, for his work is angry and ugly. She wonders if his wife was having an affair with someone.

But then Woolf realizes that "the sketch of the angry professor had been made in anger." As she looks at herself, she recognizes her anger toward this man and his book. They have, she says, "roused the demon." She then describes how that anger makes her feel. Her heart leaps. Her cheeks burn. She flushes. This is not remarkable, she says, but it is foolish. She does not like being told that she is inferior to this "little man." She then scribbles over the man's face. This calms her own anger, as does her willingness to face it and examine it.

Yet Woolf remains curious about why the professor was so angry. She realizes that his anger is the kind "that had gone underground and mixed itself with all kinds of other emotions." It becomes disguised and buried and complex rather than "simple and open," and perhaps this makes it all the more dangerous.

Woolf goes on to meditate on the relationship between anger and power. She wonders if anger is an “attendant sprite on power.” Perhaps these professors are worried deep down that women will challenge their power, and this makes them angry. They want to assert their superiority. Yet this anger leads to anger in women as well, for no one likes being labeled as inferior.

Woolf's clear and usually calm stream-of-consciousness writing style does occasionally admit anger, yet it is a controlled and analyzed anger, as we can see in "A Room of One's Own." Woolf strives to understand the reasons behind her emotions. She looks at them through an objective lens and does not let them get out of control.

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