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Lesson Four Professions for Women by Virginia Woolf. Virginia Adeline Woolf (1882 — 1941). English novelist, critic, and essayist Works: The Voyage Out (1915) Night and Day (1919) Jacob's Room (1922) Mrs. Dalloway (1925) To the Lighthouse (1927)

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Lesson four professions for women by virginia woolf
Lesson FourProfessions for Womenby Virginia Woolf

Virginia Adeline Woolf


  • English novelist, critic, and essayist

  • Works:

  • The Voyage Out (1915)

  • Night and Day (1919)

  • Jacob's Room (1922)

  • Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

  • To the Lighthouse (1927)

  • Orlando (1928)

  • A Room of One's Own (1929)

  • The Waves (193I)

  • The Years (1937)

Fanny burney 1752 1840
Fanny Burney (1752 –1840)

At 15, burned early writing because her stepmother felt that a reputation for scribbling would harm the girl’s marriage prospects and because she herself was early impressed ‘with ideas that fastened degradation to this class of composition’ then, as now, called the novel.

  • Evelina (1778)‘Explored the social development of a heroine who proves herself worthy of her well-born suitor’.

  • Cecilia; or Memoirs of an Heiress (1782) ‘Analysized the social and economic problems of women’

  • Tried to raise the status of the novel by combining verisimilitude with instructions.

Aphra behn 1640 1689
Aphra Behn (1640 –1689)

  • Spy and playwright, traveler and wit, Aphra Behn was England’s first professional woman writer. In a age when many women of letters were intellectual aristocrats who claimed to write only for pleasure and ‘fame’ among their friends, Behn was a middle-class widow who frankly wrote for money and public acclaim.

  • In 1666, she entered the intelligence service of King Charles II, when such public toils of state affairs were unusual with her sex. She carried out her mission remarkably well, but was never paid properly. So she ended up spending some time in 1668 in a London debtors’ prison, which decided her upon what was, for a woman, an unprecedented step: writing for money. She became a professional and highly productive playwright.

Harriet martineau 1802 1876
Harriet Martineau (1802-1876)

  • She was more rigorously and formally educated than most women of her time. She was precociously and independently interested in economic topics

  • Her father's death in 1826 forced her to support her mother and herself by needlework and writing for the Globe on economic topics such as machinery and labor.

  • Illustrations of Political Economy, 1832-34

    Illustrations of Taxation, 1834.

    Society in America, 1837.

    Retrospect of Western Travel.

    Deerbrook, 1839.

Jane austen 1775 1817
Jane Austen (1775 -1817)

  • She defined herself as a writer by self-consciously satirizing not only the female tradition in literature but also its effects on the growth and development of the female imagination. She comically criticized the overvaluation of love, the miseducation of women, the subterfuges of the marriage market, the rivalry among women for male approval, the female cult of weakness and dependency, the discrepancy between women’s private sphere and public (male) history.

George eliot 1819 1880
George Eliot (1819-1880)

  • Eliot was aware that her identification with masculine achievement threatened to undermine her consciousness of herself as a woman. ‘You may try, but you cannot imagine what it is to have a man’s force of genius in you, yet to suffer the slavery of being a girl.’, said a heroin in her novel.

Pre class questions
Pre-class questions

  • 1 How do you understand the title of the lesson?

  • 2 Which rhetorical speech is repeatedly used in this lesson to achieve the fixed effects?

  • 3 How many sections can you divide the lesson into?

  • 4 Tell the students what difficulties they will face in understanding the lesson.

  • 5 What is the most striking characteristic of the language used by Virginia Woolf in this essay?

  • 6 How does Virginia Woolf begin her discussion of professions for women? Why does she start this way? At what place in the essay does she alert her audience and how does she alert the audience that a woman has to overcome great difficulties in order to have her won profession?

Detailed study of the text
Detailed study of the text

  • Para. 1

  • 1. What is the main idea of Paragraph 1?

  • In the profession of literature, the author finds that there are fewer experiences peculiar to women than in other professions because many women writers before her have made the road smooth.

  • 2. your Society= the Women's Service League

  • 3. What professional experiences have I had?

  • A rhetorical question

  • 4. the road was cut路已开辟出来

  • 5. making the path smooth: paving the way (for)

  • 6. regulating my steps: guiding me as I move forward 指导我向前走

  • 7. Thus, when Il came to write.., few material obstacles in my way.

  • (1) Note the word "material". The implied meaning is that there are other obstacles in her way, probably obstacles opposed to material, that is, obstacles of a spiritual, mental or

    psychological nature. As readers, we naturally expect a discussion of those obstacles in the following parts of the essay.

  • (2) in my way: ( in the way) in a place or position that prevents someone or something else from moving freely

  • 8. The family peace was not broken by the scratching of a pen.

  • (1) Here the "family peace" has two meanings:

  • first: calm, quiet, tranquility;

  • second: harmony, lack of worry and quarrels.

  • (2) scratching of a pen: the sound made by an old fashioned ink pen when it moves on paper

  • 9. No demand was made upon the family purse.

  • (1) There was no need for a writer to spend much of the family money in order to write.

  • (2) The word "purse“----- metonymy, standing for money, financial conditions,

  • e, g. the family purse: 家庭财力、经济

  • Metonymy:

  • A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated. 换喻,转喻

  • eg. “Washington” for the United States government

  • “the sword “for “military power

  • "the White House" for "the President",

  • "the crown" for "the king" or "the queen" .

  • The pen is mightier than the sword. (Here the instrument pen or sword is used as the name of the people wieldingit. )

  • He succeeded by the sweat of his brow. (Sweat of one's brow stands for one's own hard work. )

  • He is too fond of the bottle. (The container is used as a name of the thing contained-- wine, liqueur, or drinking in general. )

  • Para. 2

  • 1. What is the function of Paragraph 2?

  • The author responds to the host's suggestion that she should tell the audience something about her own professional experiences. So she now tells her own story--how she became a book reviewer when she was a girl. Paragraphs 1 and 2 can be read together as the beginning part of the whole speech, introducing the topic under discussion.

  • 2. Then it occurred to her to do what is simple.., into the red box at the corner:

  • Instead of saying straightforwardly that she wrote a book review and mailed it to a journal.

  • The red box is the mailbox in England.

  • 3. ... and my effort was rewarded.., one pound ten shillings and sixpence.

  • (1) She would have said that her article had been

  • accepted by the journal and that she was paid one pound ten shillings and sixpence for the article.

  • (2) shilling: (先令)a former monetary unit of the United Kingdom, equal to 1/20 of a pound or 12 pence.

  • 4. But to show you how little I deserve to be called a professional woman.., with my neighbors.

  • (1) Implication: In the lives of professional women there are usually struggles and difficulties. When they make some money, they would spend it on bread and butter, rent, shoes and stockings or butcher's bills, all of which are basic daily necessities.

  • (2) bread and butter--- : food and the most important and basic things. ----synecdoche

  • Synecdoche: a figure of speech by which a part is used for a whole, an individual for a class, a material for a thing, or the reverse of any of these. A good synecdoche is based on an important part of the whole and not a minor part and, usually, the part selected to stand for the whole is the part most directly associated with the subject under discussion.

  • eg. (a) We need 50 hands for the work. ( Hands rather than feet are used to stand for people. )

  • (b) It was a fleet of 20 sails. (Sails for ships)

  • (c) Have you got any coppers? (Coppers for pennies, coins made of copper)

  • (d) He is a foot soldier. (Foot for infantry)

  • (3) butcher's bills: Butcher's bills stand for meat bought from a butcher. This is metonymy.

  • Paragraph 3

  • Main idea of Paragraph 3

  • This paragraph is an important part of her speech. In this paragraph the speaker focuses on the first obstacle to becoming a professional woman writer. She uses a figure of speech "killing the Angel in the House" in describing her determination to get rid of the conventional role of women in her writing. Now here are a few words about figurative language. Figurative language is a form of writing using comparison to go beyond the literal meanings of words. The two most common types are simile and metaphor. The simile uses the word "as" or "like" to indicate the comparison; for example, "lie is as strong as a horse." The metaphor equates the objects being compared and does not use a connecting word, as in "He was a lion in battle." "Killing the Angel in the House" is a metaphor.

Killing the angel in the house

I, a woman writer who wants to review a man’s novel.

I have a mind of my own.

I have five hundred pounds a year so that I don’t have to depend solely on charm for my living.

I want to express what I think to be the truth about human relations, morality, sex.

The Angel in the House, a Model woman representing the Victorian ideology of femininity. ‘Be sympathetic; be tender; flatter; deceive; use all the arts and wiles of our sex. Above all, be pure.’

She never has a mind or wish of her own.

These questions cannot be dealt with freely and openly by woman.

Killing the Angel in the House

Killing the angel in the house1

Came between me and my paper. Bothered me and wasted my time and tormented me

Shadow of her wings fell on my page; the rustling of her skirts in the room

Slipped behind me and whispered

Would have killed me; would have plucked the heart out of my writing.

Died hard. Her fictitious nature was of great assistance to her. She always crept back.

I turned upon her and caught her by the throat. I did my best to kill her.

I acted in self-defence.

I took up the inkpot and flung it at her.

I dispatched her.

It’s far harder to kill a phantom than a reality.

I flatter myself that I killed her in the end.

Killing the Angel in the House

Do a battle with a phantom the phantom was a woman the angel in the house
Do a battle with a phantom. The phantom was a woman and tormented me….the Angel in the House

  • With this metaphor, the author invites us to look at her struggle to free herself from the Victorian ideology of femininity as a severe battle between enemies. And the enemy has complicated natures. Describing the enemy as a phantom, she allows the reader to imagine the great difficulty in fighting an intangible enemy. By personifying the traditional ideology of femininity as the Angel in the house, the author left a powerful impression upon the reader, for they can feel its existence and its each and every movement.

Meaning of arts and cat s
Meaning of and tormented me‘Arts and Cats’

  • Arts:

    1. She excelled in the difficult arts of life.

    2. Use all the arts and wiles of our sex.

    3. I do not believe that anybody can know until she has expressed herself in all the arts and professions open to human skill.

  • Cat:

    1. But to show you how little I deserve to be called a professional woman, …I went out and bought a cat – a beautiful cat, a Persian cat.

    2. What could be easier than to write articles and to buy Persian cats with the profits?

    3. I made one pound ten and six by my first review; and I bought a Persian cat with the proceeds. Then I grew ambitious. A Persian cat is all very well, I said; but a Persian cat is not enough. I must have a motor car.

Questions and tormented me

  • What is a novelist’s state of mind?

  • Why does the author use the metaphor of fishing to describe her state of mind? In what way does the image of a fisherman at a deep lake fit the situation of a woman writer?

  • What was the problem discussed in the second experience?

The fisherman at a deep lake perfectly fits the situation the author is trying to describe. Outwardly, the lake appears deadly calm, and the fisherman sunk in dreams – calm, too. Beneath the surface of the water, there are big fish as well as hard stones, hidden in darkness. The line may go deep into the water to catch the biggest fish or, to crash on a hard rock. Inside the fisherman/writer, there are conflicting thoughts. That is, the freest imagination that, according to traditional thinking, should be held privately and not dealt with in public, as well as the awareness of the consequences of revealing the imagination to the public. Through this metaphor the reader perceives that the truth about body and passion and sex is forced into darkness by traditional values of femininity. And within the woman writer herself, the wish to explore the forbidden topic and the awareness of the double standards men have against women tears her asunder.

To sum up the two experiences, while the first experience is a fight against something outside – the phantom, or the Angel in the house, the second experience is about the inner struggle between the conflicting ideas within the writer herself.

Summary assignments
Summary & Assignments a fight against something outside

  • 1. Summary of each section

  • to make the students aware of the thoughts and ideas offered by the author and make the students know what we should learn from the lesson.

  • 2.Assignments: