Friday, September 16, 2011

Escaping the Shadow of Man

In A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf posits, "Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of a man at twice its natural size." Woolf's work and thoughts concerning the female in literary history overlap with much of the ideas of Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. Woolf's short novel explains the role of a woman as a writer as well as what she needs to understand and possess before she can begin her craft. The novel as matched with the excerpt from The Madwoman in the Attic, I began to rethink some of my ideas about the struggles women possess in creative thought.
Gilbert and Gubar address more of the issues of the complete lack of presence of women in history, as they write, "the woman writer substitutes what we have called an "anxiety of authorship," an anxiety built from complex and often only barely conscious feats of that authority which seems to the female artist to be by definition inappropriate to her sex"(453). This seemed to me to be the crux of their argument. While Gilbert and Gubar's view of a patriarchal past is extremely well developed, it would be much more whole and a little less defeatist if it were laced with tones of Woof's thoughts about women.

The idea that women did in fact have a role in literary past is very true, and Gilbert and Gubar state this in their imagery of the woman as Snow White or the evil Queen as they write, "It is debilitating to be any woman in a society where women are warned that if they do not behave like angels they must be monsters"(454). I loved this metaphor that was carried throughout the piece, but I would suggest the added function of women in relation to men be added to the exegesis. As Woolf explains in the quote above, women have been a function of the male ego, and women can only begin to fight that when they realize the challenge they are up against. Not only are women faced with a relatively blank slate of writers to look back on for inspiration, but they are also faced with the destruction of the male ego.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.