Virginia Woolf’s A room of one’s own, is an amazing accomplishment to see how far women have come. Woolf demonstrates the horrible way women were treated, and acknowleges women writers that helped contribute the idea of equality. Woolf described how men basically thought women were not considered “persons”, until later on in life and still was a battle for Woolf herself, even though some improvements were made.
She helped women inspire to be the best of their potential and I think this message is not only for women, but for everyone in general. In chapter one, she states how women were addressed or described by men in various ways satirizing the subject. “The title women and fiction might mean, and you may have meant it to mean, women and whay they are like, or it might mean women and the fiction that they write; or it might mean women and the fiction that is written about them, or it might mean that somehow all three are inextricably mixed together and you want me consider them in that light.” I believe her clear statements such as this one, really gave women the light and in general to see the discrepencies that past and present women were dealing with.
One can learn a lot through her mentioning female writers of the past and how they contributed to the idea of equality for women. The second chapter Woolf really gave an example that women were poor and had to improvise for income. When Woolf mentions Lady Stephen, Emily Davies and Girton college ” she mentions that they were in “poverty of our sex” and writes in chapter two: “It was disappointing not to have brought back in the evening some important statement, some authentic fact. Women are poorer than men because this or that.. perhaps now it would be better to draw to give up seeking for the truth, and recieving on one’s head an avalanche of opinion hot as lava, discoloured as dish water.” Chapter three does give a good statment that women were financially ruined because they were women. Woolf not only shows examples of women suffering, she shows the ideas of the patrirach and what men precieved women to be.
In the end Virginia Woolf, helped reveal the women writers that plowed the way for women rights to happen and rightfully so. She contributes them in “A Room of One’s Own, and people like myself can see and value women writers of the past and help give an understanding that each of them in their own way stepped outside their role in a patriachal society as a women and contributed to educating the public about the gender discrepencies, just like Woolf has demonstrated.
One can see at the start that Mary Herbert was a very bright and educated woman. She was educated at her home and learned French, Itlalian, Latin, Greek and music. I would say she was from a well to do family, as she was well favored with Queen Elizabeth I. I found it really interesting that she would gather around a group of notable poets, musicians and artists and this probably inspired her to write more poems, and learned from her peers talents as well.
Her biography did not go in detail as of how close her and her brother Philip were. However, as she wrote a lot about her brother’s death I would say that she admired him and probably were close. It was neat that she finished her brothers poetry and had composite of Sidney’s Arcadia. When I read the elegy for her brother Philip The Dolefull Lay of Clorinda, this was my favorite poem by her. The first stanza’s one could see Herbert’s greif pooring through, and her heartfelt emotions. “Or where shall I unfold my inward paine, That my enriuen heart may find reliefe?” I feel like anyone can relate to this elegy as her portrayed emotions and questions seem to be universal feelings when an individual has lost a loved one. “A Dialogue Between two Shepherds, Thenot and Piers was good as well, although it didn’t really give me a great impact like the other one did, probably because you could relate to what she was going through.
Her last well known pieces were the Psalms and there was a total of a hundred and seven. I only read a couple and enjoyed Psalm 46. Deus noster refugium. Through her Psalms she was popular with the critics and George herbert and even John Donne were influenced by her writing. I especially found this interesting since women barely recieved enough credit and with a well known individual such as John Donne, one can see her works must have been very infulential.
My Wikipedia assignment is on Isabella Whitney, even though there is little information of her background life, she is one incredible lady. To be the first secular women of her time and writing witty satire publications was very hard for women to do especially a women from lower middle class. The one thing I hated though when researching her background or anything pretainting to her for that matter. The information always went on about Geoffrey Whitney that may or may not be her brother. It felt like in some articles he was more talked about than her even when it was suppose to narrow on her specifically. Although aside from that, my favorite publishings by her would have to be “Wyll and Testament” like crtics say is probably the most appealing and innovative of her writings. She described her situation and London’s at the time and does give a historical background to conditions people had to indure.
On a good note through her struggles financially, it seemed that her popularity grew fairly quickly, especially towards the upper class. She was the first female writer of secular poetry and defined all odds of her gender and became well known. I really enjoyed researching her, however, I just wish that there was more information out there on her.
Of course I always start reading the biographies on all the women’s writers before I look at any of their works, to get sense of what their background was and life experiences that potentially influence what they write. Margaret Cavendish I felt could be one firery lady if she wanted to be. I thought at the beginning in her early childhood showed what type of person she was when she wanted to be known for her wit and beauty and indeed she has proved that.
It was neat to see when she first attempted writing that she wrote what was called “baby books” and there are sixteen of them. Obviously they didn’t recieve much notice and was not the best stuff she had as a writer. Soom after she returned back to England from the war, Cavendish started writing poems “entitled Poems and Fancies”. Cavendish it recieved good recgonition for this particular work, however, other critics said the way she spelled and the structure of the poems were terrible. Although Cavendish did not back down nor apologize for her differn’t techniques in writing and wittingly replied back saying “against nature for a woman to spell right” In this particular quoation I felt this showed the firery side of her and already displaying another feminist writer beyond her time.
At one point in the biography I read Cavendish was known for her outrageious costumes that she wore in public. I am just wondering what she would of worn that was so outrageous. Maybe I will look it up after this post to see, since I am kind of curious. Anyway back to her works… My two favorite poems of her’s was Soul’s Raiment, and Upon the Theam of love. Both of them displayed the struggles and concept of death and love in a very unique way. I could really feel that it was her own thing and stood away from the traditional love poems or religious views on death.
In the end I would have to say my favorite quote that I read she said was when she was discribing the gender discrepencies women had toward education and anything of that nature. “In Nature, we have as clear an understanding as men, if we were bred in schools to mature our Brains.” This just shows Margaret Cavendish was ahead of her time and understood how essential the importance of education is, especially for women of that time.
Amelia Lanyer led a secret life one could say with her suttle affairs, and especially with Henry Carey “Hudson”. I cannot belive that he actually paid her off when she became pregant, only at the age of twenty three. Her family back ground was interesting as well; surrounded by musicans and some who played for the queen. She later married her husband Alphonso who was her first cousin and seemed to have a decent life with him. One can see at an early beginning she was a fighter. Through Lanyer’s life she fought for her own financial aid from the death of her husband and son and continued to battle in court against all odds. I thought is was interesting that in her biography they mentioned she was one of the first “pensioners” for women of the time, which is amazing to think about, despite her getting ripped off by her income. Also she was advanced for her time when she published a book arguing for “women’s religious and social equality”. Despite her critics and early hardships of being finanically unstable. Lanyer always had the drive to move on. In her later years she opened up a school and started teaching in a more modern way. Her poems “Salve Deus Rex Judaerorum” and “The description of Cooke- ham”, was a quick and delightful read. Lanyer’s life seemed interesting and unusual for a woman to develop so much will power for her time, considering the gender discrepancies she was faced with.
Mary Wroth had two things in common with Lanyer, she married her cousin and discussed the double standard between men and women. When I read “The Countess of Montgomeries Urania” I felt like I was reading a modern version of a tabloid. Her writing’s talked about events and scandal’s which hit close to home. Some of her characters were thought to be believed to be people she knew (which probably were) and continuted to get bad publictly because of that. The idea of love was quite prevelant throughout her publishings as well. Both Lanyer and Wroth were two incredible ladies, thinking outside the box and continued to make a statement in their publishings. Both ladies were a treat to read and I loved both biographies on them.
When reading both Julian of Norwich, and Margery Kempe I can honestly say I wasn’t too excited especially when I saw the time period. However, I was pleasently surprised with both of the ladies works. It is true when they say Julian of Norwich “Celebrated mystic whose Revelations of Divine Love is generally considered on of the most remarkable documents of medieveal religious experience.” “The Motherhood of God and “The Joy of God in us” from the revelations of Divine Love I quite enjoyed. Her experience and revelations with God were quite remarkable and reading throughout the writing’s you can get a sense of how passionate she was with her works and her loyality and devotion to her religious beliefs. Obviously I was reading the modern text version of her work and some of the interpretation mayor may not be lost however, her writing flowed in a way I can’t explain and was enjoyable to read. For example, “The Motherhood of God”, I loved this particular sentence I thought it was so beautifully written. “This fair lovely word “mother” is so sweet and so kind in itself, that it can not truly be said of anyone nor to anyone except of Him and to Him who is true Mother of life and of all.” Everyone can relate to God in this way and obviously her infulences and writing’s are still taught today.
Margery Kempe’s book was quite insightful as well. When reading her biography, I found it interesting that she was illiterate and resited her thoughts to others for recording. The Book of Margery kempe talked about her personal vision of Jesus after having her first child. Also I found it unusual how much she travelled for a woman during the era. Both women were very infulential in their religious beliefs and are still essential to this day.
When doing our presentation on Aphra Behn I learned a lot more about her. Last semester I studied her as well, however, from doing more extensive reasearch on her I did not realize the amount of playwrights she wrote. “Forc’d marriage” was her first playwright she wrote and perhaps that this play reflected on her own life but no further evidence is provided.
The most interesting thing I thought about her life was that she was highered as a spy. I thought this was unlikely job for a woman to do during the time era. However, her career as a spy was short term as she was not successful accomplishing her task. This is an example of one of the many diverse jobs she had. Through her writing’s such as “The Dissapointment” and “The Golden Age”, “To the Fair Clarinda, Who Made Love to Me, Imagined More than Woman” were seen as scandalous, and even reading them todaday, aside from “The Golden Age” does create quite a chuckle. It becomes quite clear she was a woman beyond her time.
So far her works and her as a person in general intrigue me the most over all the other women writers we looked at. After all Virginia Woolf bascially said in “A Room of One’s Own” that women writers and women in general owe to to Aphra Behn for being the first woman stepping stepping outside her gender role.