A Room of Ones Own, by Virginia Woolf was written
in a pivitol point in womens history. Shortly
after the First World War, the womens movement saw
renued energy. In the US, suffrage began and the
right to vote was achieved. This work of Virginia
Wolf is a manifesto of the feeling of the time for
the womens movement. The book is an argument as
well as an exposition. One point sums up the
argument of the book.
One cannot think well, love
well, sleep well, if one has not dined well. (P.
18). This comes out of the first chapter of A room
of Ones Own. Here the author is making a point
about the differences between the mens colleges
and the womens colleges. She first describes the
lavish meal at the mens college. The partridges,
many and various, came with all their retinue of
sauce and salads, the sharp and the sweet, each in
its order, their potatoes, thin as coins but not
so hard; their sprouts, foliated as rosebuds but
(P 10- 11) She goes on to describe
the merriment of the men as they eat end how the
food and drink bring on the rich yellow flame of
rational intercourse. (P. 11). She observes the
overall contention of the crowd and how the
conversation went on swimmingly, it went on
agreeably, freely, amusingly. (P.12). She leaves
the luncheon light on her feet, reciting poetry to
Virginia then describes the meal at the
womens college. The drab meal is a stark contrast
to the lavish luncheon at the mens college. The
meal is plain, served in plain dishes. In disdain,
she describes the prunes served for desert as
stringy as a misers heart and exuding a liquid
such that might run in a misers veins, (P. 17-
18). There was no wine served with their dinner,
only water to quell the dryness of the biscuits.
She leaves this meal in a considerably worse mood
than the previous meal.
She finds her solace in
sharing a drink with a friend and lamenting to
her. She comes to the conclusion that One cannot
think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not
dined well, meaning that the lavish meal of the
mens colleges leaves them in the frame of mind to
think, philosophize, and recite poetry, whereas at
the womens college, the bland unsatisfactory meal
does not leave them in the mood to think,
philosophize and recite poetry. Her point being
that the men have an advantage. They are satisfied
by their meal. They are in the mindset to be
scholars. Whereas the womens low class meal does
not inspire them to think well, love well or sleep
This contributes greatly to the overall
argument of A Room of Ones Own. A Room of Ones Own
is exposition of the mistreatment and oppression
of women as well as an argument. The basis of the
argument (at least as best as this author can
interpret) is that in order for women to be equal
citizens, the must be equally funded. They need
money to properly think, love, and sleep, as well
as live. They need a room of their own and an
income to be equal to me. They need not be
burdened with child rearing or house keeping or
other traditional female roles.
This all takes
money. The meal at each college is an example of
unfair treatment. It is good evidence for her
argument. She gives us a concrete example of the
difference in a womans and mans life in early 20th
century England. Her statement that One cannot
think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not
dined well, is the argument for why it is unfair.
She claims that men do better in school because
they are fueled by such good food. The poor food
at the womens school puts them in a disadvantage.
She says, a good dinner is of great importance to
good talk.(P.18) She mentions nothing of any
conversation at the womens table, only alludes to
the foul mood everyone is in.
This theme of
discrimination through the denial of wealth to
women is reinforced throughout the book. Shortly
after she exposes the difference in the mens and
womens colleges meals, she goes on to describe the
larger difference in funding of both schools. She
describes the mens college as having a foundation
of gold and silver and the long history of one
college in particular. She tells of all the gold
and silver that flowed into the college from
royalty and rich merchants not only to make it
run, but to make it beautiful. She then contrasts
the womens college. She describes the decades hard
work that went into funding the womens college.
They had to hold fund raisers and beg for support.
Compared to the mens college, the womens college
The amenities will have to wait.(P. 20).
This leads her to scorn the reprehensible poverty
of our sex.(P.21). This Parallels her argument
that One cannot think well, love well, sleep well,
if one has not dined well. Much like good food
fuels the mind a well endowed college fuels the
mind. She reasons that if women had the same
schools available to them they would not be second
class citizens. There would be many more female
writers and scholars.
To further her argument she
describes the day she received her inheritance and
how it changed her life. Instead of a life of the
few odd jobs that were available to women at the
time or being a housewife, she is free to pursue
the life she wants. This separates her from most
women who at that time, were busy with either a
low paying job or a family. She now has time to
think. One cannot think well or dine well without
money. The money also changes her view on life.
need not hate any man; he cannot hurt me. I need
not flatter any man; he has nothing to give me.
(P. 38). Here we see she has achieved an
independence not common to women of the time. She
achieved it through money. The title of the book A
Room of Ones Own is the crux of her argument.
order for women to be first class citizens they
must have a room of their own. This symbolizes
independence as well as freedom to think. In order
to have a room of ones own, one must have money,
which is the main point to her argument. She sees
financial equality as the road to social equality..
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