Modes of Reading Woolf and de Beauvoir. Plan. Virgina Woolf, Chapter Two of A room of one’s own ( Lodge 5) Simone de Beauvoir, “Myth and reality,” and “Woman’s Situation and character” from The Second Sex (Lodge 6) Theoretical interpretation of The Magic Toyshop .
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Virgina Woolf, Chapter Two of A room of one’s own (Lodge 5)
Simone de Beauvoir, “Myth and reality,” and “Woman’s Situation and character” from The Second Sex (Lodge 6)
Theoretical interpretation of The Magic Toyshop
Why was one sex so prosperous and the other so poor?
What effect has poverty on fiction?
What conditions are necessary for the creation of works of art?”
Conditions in the Middle Ages of,
Habits in the Fiji Islands of,
Weaker in moral sense than,
Shakespeare’s opinion of,
“became fifty questions; until the fifty questions leapt frantically into mid-stream and were carried away”.
"When I read what he wrote about women I thought, not of what he was saying, but of himself. When an author argues dispassionately he thinks only of the argument; and the reader cannot help thinking of the argument too."
“Life for both sexes is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle…More than anything, it calls for confidence in oneself”.
“if she begins to tell the truth, the figure in the looking-glass shrinks; his fitness for life is diminished. How is he to go on giving judgement…dressing up and speechifying at banquets, unless he can see himself at breakfast and at dinner at least twice the size he really is?”
“A universally recognizable element . . . that recurs across all literature and life (Latrobe 13).
Psychologist Carl Jung called these elements a kind of “collective unconscious” of the human race, prototypes rather than something gained from experience.
Archetypes are universal in human beings. Archetypes result in a deep emotional response for readers.
“the looking-glass vision is of supreme importance because it charges the vitality; it stimulates the nervous system. Take it away and man may die” (Woolf).
I never could abide your father. He thought ‘isself too good for the Flowers by a long chalk, he did. A writer, he called ‘isself. Soft bastard, he never got his hands dirty.
‘But he was awfully clever!’ protested Melanie…
Not so clever he thought to put a bit by to take care of you lot when he’d gone,…And so I’ve got his precious kids all for my very own, haven’t I? To make into little Flowers.
“Gee, I think it’s charming. It suits your old-fashioned kind of shop. Kind of Dickensian” (154)
“anything can happen when womanhood has ceased to be a protected occupation”
vague and basic essence, femininity
Thus, as against the dispersed, contingent, and multiple existences of actual women, mythical thought opposes the Eternal feminine, unique and changeless (95)
… “we are told not that Femininity is a false entity, but that the women concerned are not feminine” (95).
“On ne nait pas femmme, on le devient”
“one is not born woman, one becomes it”
Not essence but experience
we were truly asking ourselves questions about the nature of reality. ... I can date to that time and to that sense of heightened awareness of the society around me in the summer of 1968, my own questioning of the nature of my reality as a woman. How that social fiction of my "femininity" was created, by means outside my control, and palmed off on me as the real thing. This investigation of the social fictions that regulate our lives---what Blake called the "mind-forg'd manacles" ---is what I've concerned myself with consciously since that time.
Through the myths this society imposed its laws and customs upon individuals in a picturesque, effective manner;… Through such intermediaries as religions, traditions, language, tales, songs, movies, the myths penetrate even into such existences as are most harshly enslaved into material realities. (100)
woman’s “condition has remained the same through superficial changes, and its this condition that determines what is called the “character” of woman: she ‘revels in immanence’, she is false, she is contrary…”
women’s lives are governed by “a paradox of their situation: they belong at one and the same time to the male world and to a sphere in which that world is challenged; shut up in their world, surrounded by the other, they can settle down nowhere in peace” (102).