Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (First publishedOctober 24, 1929 SOURCE) was written as a response to the question of women andfiction. Her essayshowcases the effects that men as a whole have to obstruct the path that anauthor (more specifically an author who is a woman) takes when writingcreatively. Thesis She asks the reader toquestion what they are reading by asking them to draw their own conclusions;she doesn’t feed them the answers, she guides them towards what she’d like themto understand. In a way it doesn’t matter whether they draw their ownconclusions or not; her point has been made and they have been made to see theworld through her lens. “One can give only one’saudience the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe thelimitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker.
” (SOURCE)This is a backwards utilisation of ethos; her self-deprecation gives her a differentform of authority than if she had said, “I am a learned woman, and this is howthe world works.” This differentapproach to gaining the reader’s trust was what was needed in an essay likethis; she would be contradicting herself if she walked into the room andimmediately told her audience that she was inherently correct in her views andthey were inherently incorrect. That is what she suggests men have been doingfor centuries and if she, as a woman, were to do that it would have underminedher position. Logically, the reader already has their preconceivednotions of women and their place in the creation of fiction.
Woolf is acutelyaware of these biases, so she doesn’t feel the need to address them head on;instead she beseeches the reader to accept that there are biases and to come tohave their own opinions in spite ofthese biases. LOOKING GLASS METAPHOR The tone used in herretelling of thought through the metaphor of a fisherwoman and her fish showsthe direct crushing effect the patriarchy can have on a woman when she sticksher neck out too far. “What idea it had been that had me so audaciously trespassing I could not nowremember.” (SOURCE) “–call me Mary Beton,Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael or by any name you please–,” (SOURCE) In a way,she’s adding credibility by remaining aloof. By distancing herself from hernarrative she’s making it more universal; it could be any woman in thatsituation and the results would have been the same. Creating a surrogate forher story was a powerful tool used to help readers understand her point of viewin a way that appealed to their emotional sides. It makes the reader think that no matter what she did, itwould have been the same—instead of “victim shaming”? Her most used tool wasa combination of ethos and pathos. This mixture is incredibly effective becauseit implies that the author’s viewpoint is more than just credible; it appealsto the reader’s emotions which takes an argument farther than status or logicalreasoning could.
Woolf does this when she says, QUOTE