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    LIT 4386 British and American Literature by Women


Class 19


Reading Assignment:

    Woolf, "22 Hyde Park Gate" (1318-1328)
    POST #8 Group A


    Class Objectives:

  • To discuss memoir
    To Virginia Woolf's representation of self


Notes and Discussion Questions:

1. Memoir

What do we already know about Virginia Woolf? Her life at the end of the Victorian era? Be sure to read her introduction in the anthology.

What form of literature is this piece? What are its characteristics?

What is the difference between memoir and biography?

Woolf said that in writing these "moments of being" she, and her memoir writing group, were committed to expressing "absolute frankness." What do you think she means by this? Compare the idea of "absolute frankness" versus "relative frankness" -- what is the point of writing in absolute frankness?

What style does VW write in? Be certain to think abour IRONY.

For example, examine on page 1320 her description of George Duckworth as a saint. What does VW intend with this description?

Note Woolf's use of images again - see the opening image of the folding door. How does the folding door characterizes the interaction of the Victorian household? How are the spheres described gendered? How does the folding door reflect Victorian modesty? How does it relate to "absolute frankness"? In what respects is this piece "relatively frank"?

Describe the main characters:

    George Duckworth
    Vanessa Stephen
    Virginia Stephen (in this piece in particular)
When is this written and how does it compares with the time it represents? How is the writer different from the subject Virginia?

2. Virginia Stephen/Woolf and Marriange-Madness

How does Woolf represent sexuality in this piece? Why is the representation of female sexuality difficult? What stands in the way of “absolute candour” in discussing female sexuality?

Small group discussion: how does this piece raises questions about the representation of female sexuality?

Examine the following:

    Page 1324 - why does VW believe George will be forced to go to "whores"?

    What does it mean for her state of mind to be "virginal"?

    Examine the play they go to see. What does the ladies response to the play have in common with their response to VW’s discussion of Plato?

    How does VW the writer feel about the scene - based on her representation. Read carefully.

    Analyze the ending. What methods does VW use to mitigate the horror of the ending? What is the result? What does this ending tell us about George Duckworth? About the Stephen girls?

    What does the ending suggest about Victorian Sexuality?

    How does this piece fit in with the other works we have read on female sexuality - namely The Awakening?