Virginia Woolf The Angel In The House Essay

To believe that your impressions hold good for other is to be released from the cramp and confinement of personality…So then our contemporaries afflict us because they have ceased to believe…They cannot make a world, because they are not free of other human beings., because they resonated so much with the thoughts that the novel provoked in me about that struggle for certainty and voice, the feeling of being unable to feel or think clearly, to communicate.

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Back to her descriptions on this change in 1910 (and surely this must be written before the war, my only fault with this book is that there is no short introduction for each essay giving the time and place published nor is that in the contents — perhaps it is buried in the extensive timeline of Woolf’s life).

She writes that Samuel Butler is characteristic of it (and oh the tone of this comment!

As a working mother, I find myself thinking lots about the Angel, and wondering whether she’s dead yet.

It’s tempting to see the Angel as an anachronism, a holdover from Woolf’s Victorian childhood, but sadly, the creature’s still in rude health, her wings beating back justice just as efficiently as they did when Woolf wrote her essay in 1931.

Is it not the task of the novelist to convey this varying, this unknown and uncircumscribed spirit, whatever aberration or complexity it may display, with as little mixture of the alien and external as possible? She writes of how literature has changed, with much firmness: And now I will hazard a second assertion, which is more disputable perhaps, to the effect that on or about December 1910, human character changed. In life one can see the change, if I may use a homely illustration, in the character of one’s cook.

The Victorian cook lived like a leviathan in the lower depths, formidable, silent, obscure, inscrutable; the Georgian cook is a creature of sunshine and fresh air; in and out of the drawing room, now to borrow the It of course bothers me that she is clearly writing for those who have cooks, not those who are cooks (coming from a family of at least one cook, I’m glad to see life was finally looking up for them), but I have more thoughts on the class issues in another post.

Like millions of mothers the world over, I wrestle with her most weeks, as I try to balance my own work and ambitions with raising my children.

What’s more, I’ve only just begun to see just how cunning this Angel is.

“If there was chicken, she took the leg; if there was a draught she sat in it.” The Angel was there to safeguard the patriarchy, of course, as well as a household’s bourgeois credentials.

It was crucial for a woman writer to kill her, wrote Woolf, since the Angel and all her works were road-blocks to women’s creativity and agency, preventing the full stretch of the female mind and spirit.


Comments Virginia Woolf The Angel In The House Essay

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