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A New Perspective into Virginia Woolf

Author HuDan
Tutor LuJia
School Ocean University of China
Course Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics
Keywords Virginia Woolf androgyny feminism harmony
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
Downloads 124
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Virginia Woolf is a well-known English novelist and critic. Her contribution to modern literature mainly lies in her works of stream of consciousness and her feminist works, such as To the Lighthouse and Orlando. As the forerunner and one of the influential pioneer writers of the feminist movement, Woolf’s androgyny conception is the most controversial and important in the history of human literature.The word“androgyny”which originated from the Greek mythology is a very ancient idea that derived from the ancient Roman culture and it has been explored in various fields, such as the fields of philosophy, religion, psychology, literature and so forth. Androgyny initially meant the integrity of human nature in ancient times. The idea was first mentioned by Plato. However, Virginia Woolf was the first person who introduced androgyny into literary criticism and works with a formal form. In A Room of One’s Own that was written in 1928, she proposed that the human brain is marked by the features of both genders, therefore, androgyny is not only a harmonious mental state in men and women, but also a writer’s best mental state in the process of production.Woolf has not only introduced androgyny into literary criticism, but also has applied it into her literary works. In To the Lighthouse, Lily spends ten years finishing her painting after she has achieved an androgynous state of the mind. Woolf’s androgynous idea is also reflected in Orlando. Through gender development and maturity Orlando enjoys the androgynous state of being in the end, and therefore he keeps an ideal state of balance and unity in his mind.This thesis tries to make a deep analysis of Woolf’s androgynous perception through a close and profound study of her three specific novels: To the Lighthouse, Orlando and A Room of One’s Own. The study of androgyny can not only explore deeply the human nature but also can broaden the studies and perspectives of the feminist theory with the aim of building and maintaining a balanced and harmonious relationship between men and women.As to the theoretical basis applied in this research, I have made use of androgyny proposed and stated by Woolf and other professional writers and critics. The methodology employed in the process of analysis and investigation is the qualitative method. Qualitative method means that using non-numerical data, such as, interviews, case studies, or analysis of content to do research, this thesis mainly uses analysis of content.The overall thesis is divided into 6 chapters which play different functions as it will be seen in what follows:Chapter 1 is the introduction which consists of three sections: Virginia Woolf’s literary career and achievements,the significance of the thesis,and related terms of the thesis.Chapter 2 is on the theoretical basis of androgyny in different fields and literature reviews.Chapter 3 gives a detailed discussion of Woolf’s androgyny:The factors that promote Woolf to introduce androgyny、the content of her androgyny and the significance of her androgyny.Chapter 4 investigates Woolf’s three androgynous works: A Room of One’s Own, To the Lighthouse and Orlando.Chapter 5 conducts a study of Woolf’s influence on other feminist writers, especially, Doris Lessing,and makes a brief comparison between androgyny and eco-feminism.Chapter 6 is the conclusion of the thesis. Androgyny is not only the harmonious mental state in man and woman, but also the best state for writers to produce,and therefore it still has great influence on the harmonious relationship between men and women.

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