As we began to explore Virginia Woolf and her style of writing we come to a realization that the narrator is a fictionalized character in which Woolf invented. This becomes clear within the first pages of A Room of One’s Own when she says,
“I” is only a convenient term for somebody who has no real being. Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed up with them; it is for you to seek out this truth and to decide whether any part of it is worth keeping. — Here then was I call me Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael or by any name you please — it is not a matter of any importance.” (17)
Throughout her book-length essay, Woolf remains vague about her true identity perhaps to encourage the idea of being universal. The main themes and ideas she uprises within A Room of One’s Own is to be expressed to all women…not just one. By taking on various identities the narrator comes off as one voice which must be reckoned with. With Woolf’s sophisticated attitude and brilliant mind that is considered important to most people, her outlook on identity is what makes her even more intriguing.
Woolf mentions Mary several times throughout her essay,
“I am almost sure, I said to myself, that Mary Carmichael is playing a trick on us. For I feel as one feels on a switchback railway when the car, instead of sinking, as one has been led to expect, swerves up again. Mary is tampering with the expected sequence. First she broke the sentence; now she has broken the sequence. Very well, she has every right to do both these things if she does them not for the sake of breaking, but for the sake of creating.”
When Woolf talks about Mary Carmichael in the previous quote she is really talking about herself. She is trying to capture the flow of her thoughts as she imagines herself as Mary. Woolf uses different names in her writing to signal unknown women’s writers and their stories. The quote is implying that all women have the same capabilities as men so they need not to be ashamed of who they are and what they happen to create.
Below is a recording of Virginia Woolf so you can get a feel as to how she sounded and how she expressed her love for her true talent of writing.
Along with Virginia Woolf, British novelists that were highly regarded in the nineteenth-century included Frances Burney, Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë and Emily Brontë. All inspiring novelists have created such skillful work. Women writers during that time era influenced each other to go above and beyond, to test their mindful readers and to express their feelings beyond reality. They didn’t get the time of day or credit they deserved. They often wrote without fear even though they knew others would discriminate against their writing and powerful thoughts. They tended to bring up questions that no one pondered and left minds racing and intrigued.
Franny Burney Jane Austen Charlotte Brontë