Alice Walker And Virginia Wolf: Written Female Warriors

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“Women will always be inferior to men.” That is what has been said for hundreds of years and it’s something that is still being said in today’s society. Women have almost always had to take the backseat when it comes to their wishes, goals, needs, wants and even their human rights. However, we have made strides throughout the years to make the playing field more equal for women. This cannot go without notice and appreciation for women like Virginia Woolf and Alice Walker. Walker and Woolf challenged the literary standards of their time through their writing and paved the way for other women to fight the good fight against women oppression. Both writers have had commonalities within their writings. For example, both women similarly characterized the lives of women in the same way. Through the eyes of men and through the eyes of themselves as women. Virginia and Woolf also touch base on how oppressed women can still find a sense of creativity in life. All in all, both Virginia and Woolf showcase that women are capable of hurdling life’s obstacles and can leave behind great legacies.

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Although Alice Walker and Virginia Woolf were writers from different time periods, one thing that didn’t seem to change over time was how society viewed women. Decades have passed between the two writers, and yet the issue they both had written about has stayed nearly the same. Women themselves felt defeated and believed they had no real capabilities in life. This is due to the way society treated women. “They were themselves unaware of the richness they held.” This quote goes to show how little belief women had in themselves and one another. Society itself has basically told women they would never amount to anything. Here, is quoted, “First place, to earn money was impossible for them, and in the second, had it been possible the law denied them the right to possess what money they earned.” This magnifies, even more, how a societal culture has influenced the way women are conveyed. Walker is quoted, “They stumbled so blindly through their lives: creatures so abused and mutilated in body, so dimmed and confused by pain, that they considered themselves unworthy even of hope.” Again, we see just how disrespected women are in this quote, leaving them to think they are nothing.

Another parallelism one can find when reading the works of these two authors is the way men specifically treat women. Both authors paint a rather graphic picture in the ways men have treated and spoke about women. “Men lit candles to celebrate the emptiness that remained as people do who enter a beautiful but vacant space to resurrect a God”. This quote clearly shows how men enjoyed the act of demoralizing women. An alarming sign of oppression by men that is still happening in today’s world. Woolf also wrote multiple instances in which men talked as though women were nothing but an object or mere property. “Wife beating, I read, was a recognized right of a man, and was practiced without shame by high as well low.” She also wrote, “When a husband was assigned, he was lord and master, so far at least as law and custom could make him.” They both showcase men as misogynistic individuals who completely degrade women. The oppression of women mainly is caused by men having a deep want to always be in power and in control of almost everything. The power and control men desire constantly allows women to have less power in control. Woolf and Virginia display in their writing that men don’t really allow women to have control over the life they wish to live. Both writers wrote about similar cultures that showcased a very demeaning attitude towards women. It’s pretty evident that life for so long has been tilted in men’s favor.

Another common attribute both writers mentioned in several cases throughout their writings was how women had to be the focal point in family life. There’s been this complete misconception that women have to be the ones in the household that perform the domestic “motherly” duties. When there was a discussion of women doing things outside of home life, they were heavily criticized for it. “For stories, too, were subject to being distracted, to dying without conclusion. Dinners must be started and cotton must be gathered before the big rains.” Again, we see in this case, a mother, being distracted with “motherly” duties as she tries to tell stories. Woolf really expressed in a lot of her work that any women who received education is, in fact, dismantling the family life. “For, to endow a college would necessitate the suppression of families altogether.” Through this, Woolf is explaining that any distractions between a mother and her family will bring great anguish to the entire family. In Woolf and Virginia’s writing’s it looked like women would never be recognized as anything else but a mother.

Although it was never the social norm for women to be anything other than a family provider, Virginia and Woolf gave hope for women through their work. Both writers talked about how possible it was for women to have a meaningful and purposeful life. One way both of these writers did this was by showing that no matter what women were going through, they still had the chance to break social norms and manifest a creative life for themselves. It was most certainly a very difficult task for any women during these two time periods to be in any way, shape or form creative. Yet, Virginia and Woolf challenged the literary standards of their time by talking about this matter. Virginia wrote about women being creative artists in the simplest terms. “But the telling of stories which came from my mother’s lips as naturally as breathing was not the only way my mother showed herself as an artist.” This just goes to show how even storytelling can be a form of creativeness in a woman’s life at the time. Walker also talked about her as an artist through the creation of her flower fields. Something so simple turned into something so artistically delightful. Yet, this was how women’s grandmothers and mothers blossomed as artists. Woolf took a different approach towards this certain subject and basically voiced that all a woman needs in order to be creative is having a room of her own. Clear of distractions, clear of any outside factors. Just a pen, paper and a room of her own. That’s all it takes for women to be artists.

Now, Virginia and Woolf challenged these literary standards by demanding respect for their own work. They wrote about topics that were so far-fetched from the social norms, but they felt that their voices needed to be heard and made aware of. Walker really speaks upon womanism. A topic that was certainly not a popular discussion written by white, middle class males. She was very much devoted to the well-being of black women and showed an abundant amount of appreciation for them and their lives. Woolf, on the other hand, wrote about feminism and the freedom of women in society. She generated a lot of hope by writing about women becoming educated and playing vital roles in society.

All things considered, Virginia Woolf and Alice Walker were two paramount women of their time and still today. They have certainly helped pave the path to a more equal world for women. Now, women can be in the driver’s seat of their wants, needs, wishes, and rights. Their work has inspired and touched the lives of many women in this world. It seems as though the creative spirit is what has kept women alive in so many ways. While they wrote about the same issues, like how women’s lives were characterized by society, men and themselves as women, they also left their readers with a very important message. The message that women are capable of hurdling life’s obstacles and can leave behind great legacies.

14 May 2021

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