How Does Wide Sargasso Sea Revise the Way You Read “Jane Eyre”?
Virginia Woolf and the Angel in the House Professions for Women is written by Virginia Woolf,the profession obviously referring to writing. Over here, she is talking about how difficult it is for females to write down all their thoughts and not be influenced by the outward forces. How it is almost impossible to pen their views without thinking of what the others might think of them. And here is where ‘the Angel in the House’ comes in.
The Angel in the House is a poem penned by Coventry Patmore. He has written about the perfect woman. She is someone who is sweet and delicate. She is beautiful and caring and places others’ wants before hers. She is a housewife and a wonderful mother to boot, but she is also meek and dependent. “She was intensely sympathetic. She was immensely charming. She was utterly unselfish. She excelled in the difficult arts of family life. (…) Above all – I need not say it – she was pure” (Woolf, Professions for Women. Collected Essays 85). In short, she is the ideal woman to all men in the Victorian era and she makes the life of the living women, who may take her as a role model, quite difficult.
The Angel is someone who barges in all then women’s thoughts and stops them from pouring out their raw emotions on paper. The wickedest of their thoughts are to be turned wholesome as that is what is right, that is what women are supposed to think. “My dear, you are a young woman. You are writing about a book that has been written by a man. Be sympathetic; be tender; flatter; deceive; use all the arts and wiles of our sex. Never let anybody guess that you have a mind of your own. Above all, be pure” (Woolf, Professions for Women. Collected Essays 285). To stop that from happening, Woolf writes about ‘killing’ off this Angel. That would be the only way to allow the female writers to be true to themselves and not subdue their imagination. Getting rid of the Angel who stops them from following their heart would be a good thing. It is perfectly acceptable and it would allow them to be honest in their work. The Angel, who is, in fact, a devil in disguise of sorts would no longer be present then to try to manipulate their thoughts and writing.
Woolf seems to mention trying to ‘kill’ off the Angel several times. The latter keeps appearing and the two struggle together for an upper hand. The writer tries very hard and finally ends up succeeding. “Had I not killed her she would have killed me. She would have plucked the heart out of my writing” (Woolf, Between Ourselves; Letters, Mothers, Daughters 83). If she had not accomplished the task, she would not have been able to make full use of her talents. It is a warning to the rest of writers of the same sex to not give up and fight for what they believe in.
Virginia Woolf had won the battle and that was why she was able to write great books with a variety of themes in them, even those which were not deemed to be appropriate for a woman to think about. She did not care about the society’s repression to a female’s mind and followed her heart’s desires. Thus, providing us with great gems of literature.
Woolf, Virginia. Between Ourselves; Letters, Mothers, Daughters. Ed. Karen Payne. New York: Houghton Mifflen, 1983.
—. Professions for Women. Collected Essays. Vol. 2. London: Hogarth Press, 1966.