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Poverty is one of them.
Throughout the essay, Woolf discusses how inequitably women writers have been treated all through history, and how they have been made to feel unwelcome in those places that could be the most comforting. For example, she creates a character "who regretted in a low voice as he waved me back that ladies are only admitted to the library if accompanied by a Fellow of the College or furnished with a letter of introduction" (Woolf). Her inability to enter the library points out the inequity of men and women throughout history, but more importantly, it indicates why a "room of one's own" is so vital in the creative process. For many years, women writers were not welcome in the male dominated world of writing, and because of that, they were shut out from some of the most comfortable and comforting dwellings - libraries. Because of this, Woolf felt women must create their own comforting and creative spaces that would allow them the freedom to create and experiment in comfort and safety. If the dwellings of other writers were off limits, then they had to create their own safe spaces.
Woolf continually dwells on her feminism, as well. She writes, "Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt, that you can set upon the freedom of my mind" (Woolf). She was an early feminist who knew the potential of women, and of female thought. That is why she is concerned with providing women the right resources to aid in their creativity. Her needs were simple. Five hundred pounds a year from her aunt was all she needed to be free. Today, it seems women need much, much more, and that all seems to come back to what dwellings represent in our society. In Woolf's time, dwellings served a purpose, but were not the showpieces they are today. She even speaks of her "little" house and how cozy it is to write there.
She believed that if a woman only had five hundred pounds, her own space, and the time to write, that in one hundred years women would be writing the finest of fiction. In that anyway, her essay seems to be true. While poverty still affects more women than men, more women are writing, and being taken seriously. However, the dwellings of today have placed even more demands on women, leaving them far less time to be creative and fulfilled. Most women today work, even if they have families, because they must help to support them. Five hundred pounds would no longer support their needs, and they still would not have the time to write, even if they had their own space. Thus, the consumerism of today still keeps women on a different scale than men, and seems to point out the perpetuity of Woolf's essay.
Woolf begins her essay by examining her topic of women and fiction, and concluding, "[A] woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved" (Woolf). It is difficult not to wonder what she would think of the dwellings of modern America. Her writing now seems to represent a simpler time, and yet the world had just seen World War I end, and was still in turmoil. Today, it could be said that a woman still needs money and a room of her own to write fiction, but today the room would probably be equipped with a computer, fax machine, research library, and iPod, among other things. Woolf was a radical in her time, and she proposed new ways of thinking. The modern woman, writing from a very large room of her own, may seem old-fashioned in another 75 years; it is simply how society evolves. In another 75 years, homes could become smaller again, women may have gained more of a voice in business, and feel less of a need for a room of their own. It all seems to ebb and flow in cycles and through it all, dwellings inside and outside ourselves have great influence on society, culture, and even women's fiction.
Woolf, Virginia. "A Room of One's Own." University of Adelaide. 2005. 29 Nov. 2006. http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/w/woolf/virginia/w91r/[continue]
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