Virginia Woolf’s a Room of One’s Own: Chapter One

Chapter one opens up the question about women and fiction. The narrator’s thesis is that in order for a woman to write she must have her own security of money and a quiet room to herself. Throughout the chapter, it journeys through the narrator’s day and her many encounters with the institutional sexism at the universities. Towards the end of the chapter you get a better understanding of why someone must have their own quiet room in order to be creative.

This leads into chapter two as she continues her journey to shed some light on her thesis about women and fiction.

One of the main themes in A Room of One’s Own is the reoccurrence of sexism. At the beginning of the first chapter the narrator is sitting next to the river at “Oxbridge” University. She is pondering on her thesis when she finally came up with an idea she was interrupted by a Beadle who told her she was not allowed on the lawn, only Fellows and Scholars are.

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This example shows the sexism towards women and also gives part to her thesis that in order to create something you must not have any interruptions.

During her time at the river she uses a fishing metaphor to explain her thought process and how it works. Her thoughts are strung out on a line in the river just waiting for an idea or fish to nibble at it. As the Beadle interrupts her to tell her to move off the lawn, she walks to the gravel path making comment to the fact she lost her “ little fish” of an idea.

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She attends the luncheon at Oxbridge and gives detail of the gourmet foods that are offered. The gentlemen of the college enjoy soles, partridges, desserts, and fine wine. As she leaves the university to go back to the newly built Fernham College for Women, she goes to dining hall to have dinner. Her supper consists of plain, vegetable soup, bad custard, prunes, biscuits and cheese, and served with just tap water. While their less-impressive dinner is only one of the annoyances of women’s daily life, it represents the great inequalities women have endured for centuries.

The Manx cat without a tale, which she comes across on the lawn of Oxbridge, is a symbol of England’s crumbling society. Seeing the cat reminds her of the pre-war era. Devastated by WW1, England’s creative, bright conversations have turned dark and plain. The conversations between people lack any form of enthusiasm. The narrator also points out how the mangled cat is out of place at the university, just how a woman would be. They both stick out like a sore-thumb.

The chapter has little satire in it, unlike the two chapters read in class. However, it is a great opener into her journey of finding the truth in women and fiction. She has a lot more male interactions in this chapter that give light to the sexism of this time era. It gives great examples of how the daily interruptions of life can ruin a fantastic, creative idea. She continues on to her inn to further ponder on her thesis and soon after goes to bed to wake up the next day still tossing ideas back and forth about women and fiction.

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Virginia Woolf’s a Room of One’s Own: Chapter One. (2016, Dec 17). Retrieved from

Virginia Woolf’s a Room of One’s Own: Chapter One

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