Virginia Woolf and the persistent question of class

Virginia Woolf and the persistent question of class

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Virginia Woolf and the persistent question of class the protean nature of class and self
Madden, Mary C
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University of South Florida
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English literature 1900-1945
Standpoint theory
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- Doctoral -- USF
bibliography ( marcgt )
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fiction ( marcgt )


ABSTRACT: From the beginning of her career, Virginia Woolf moves beyond the perspective of her inherited class position to challenge a damaging class system. She increasingly recognizes the extent of her own complicity in the creation and maintenance of class structures supporting patriarchy, war, and British imperialism. Highlighting ambiguities inherent in the very category of class, she acknowledges the limiting "boxes" of language itself in attempts to rethink class. For Woolf, class is not monolithic but internally differentiated by gender and race. Examining Woolf's early work in relation to class theory shows that throughout her career Woolf interrogates the imbrication of gender and race in class politics. She finds class difference a fertile source of satire, and subjects her own class position to satirical scrutiny. At the same time, a certain psychology of class operates in Woolf: vulnerable to the dissolution of ego boundaries because of her mental illness, she at times shores up her sense of identity by reaffirming class boundaries that were otherwise repugnant to her. Thus Woolf vacillates between perceiving class as necessary to "civilization" and championing egalitarian views. Theoretical points of reference for this study include cultural materialism, feminist standpoint theory, psychoanalysis, and theories of class advanced by Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Max Weber, Gary Day, David Cannadine, Beverly Skeggs, and Rosemary Hennessy.
Dissertation (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2006.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by Mary C. Madden.

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Virginia Woolf and the persistent question of class :
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by Mary C. Madden.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
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ABSTRACT: From the beginning of her career, Virginia Woolf moves beyond the perspective of her inherited class position to challenge a damaging class system. She increasingly recognizes the extent of her own complicity in the creation and maintenance of class structures supporting patriarchy, war, and British imperialism. Highlighting ambiguities inherent in the very category of class, she acknowledges the limiting "boxes" of language itself in attempts to rethink class. For Woolf, class is not monolithic but internally differentiated by gender and race. Examining Woolf's early work in relation to class theory shows that throughout her career Woolf interrogates the imbrication of gender and race in class politics. She finds class difference a fertile source of satire, and subjects her own class position to satirical scrutiny. At the same time, a certain psychology of class operates in Woolf: vulnerable to the dissolution of ego boundaries because of her mental illness, she at times shores up her sense of identity by reaffirming class boundaries that were otherwise repugnant to her. Thus Woolf vacillates between perceiving class as necessary to "civilization" and championing egalitarian views. Theoretical points of reference for this study include cultural materialism, feminist standpoint theory, psychoanalysis, and theories of class advanced by Michel Foucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Max Weber, Gary Day, David Cannadine, Beverly Skeggs, and Rosemary Hennessy.
Dissertation (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2006.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 242 pages.
Includes vita.
Adviser: Elizabeth A. Hirsh, Ph. D.
English literature 1900-1945.
Standpoint theory.
Dissertations, Academic
x English
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856


Virginia Woolf and the Persistent Question of Class: The Protean Nature of Class and Self by Mary C. Madden A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of English College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Elizabeth A. Hirsh, Ph.D. William T. Ross, Ph.D. Rita Ciresi, M.F.A. Marilyn Myerson, Ph.D. Date of Approval: March 31, 2006 Keywords: English literature 1900-1945, feminism, gender, satire, psychology, standpoint theory Copyright 2006, Mary C. Madden


DEDICATION For my daughter, Mary Kathl een, and for women everywhere


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Heartfelt thanks to my husb and, Joseph, for material support and encouragement; to my son, Sean, and sister, Jane, who climbed the m ountain before I did; to my daughter, Mary Kathleen, and son, Joey, who were unflagging in their faith that this project would be completed; to Lise and to Tony Z. for thei r cheerleading efforts; and to my expert Woolfian mentor and manuscript midwife, Dr. Elizabeth Hirsh.


i TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT ii CHAPTER ONE. A “RATIONAL REBELLIOUSNESS”: THEORY AND CONTEXT FOR CLASS ISSUES IN WOOLF’S WRITING 1 A Considered Perspective on W oolf and Class 2 Gary Day’s Definition of Class 8 Max Weber’s Definition of Class 13 Bourdieu, Skeggs, Hennessy, Orwell 14 Psychoanalytical and Feminist Theories of Class 23 Woolf’s Social Class and Developm ent of Class Consciousness 36 Class and Woolf’s Satiric Vision 41 A Border Case 42 Virginia and Leonard: A Shared Ideology? 51 Woolf as Social Critic in He r Essays and Fiction 58 CHAPTER TWO. “CIVILIZATION,” FEMALE SUBJECTIVITY, AND A PSYCHOLOGY OF CLASS IN WOOLF’S EARLY LIFE AND WORK 63 CHAPTER THREE. “ DREAMS AND REALITIES”: THE VOYAGE OUT AND THE POLITICS “OF EMPIRE 90 CHAPTER FOUR. CLASS AND “A VAST NEST OF CHINESE BOXES”: EARLY STORIES AND NIGHT AND DAY 126 Woolf’s Interrogation of Class in Night and Day 143 CHAPTER FIVE. “THAT ANTEDILUVIAN TOPIC”: FEMINISM, GENDER, AND CLASS IN MRS. DALLOWAY 157 CHAPTER SIX. MISS LATROBE GAZES INTO HER OWN MIRRORS: WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM WOOLF ABOUT CLASS 195 ENDNOTES 218 WORKS CITED 222 BIBLIOGRAPHY 240 ABOUT THE AUTHOR End page


ii VIRGINIA WOOLF AND THE PERSISTENT QUESTION OF CLASS: THE PROTEAN NATURE OF CLASS AND SELF Mary C. Madden ABSTRACT From the beginning of her career, Virgin ia Woolf moves beyond the perspective of her inherited class position to challenge a damaging class system. She increasingly recognizes the extent of her own complicity in the creation and ma intenance of class structures supporting patriarchy, war, and Br itish imperialism. Highlighting ambiguities inherent in the very category of class, sh e acknowledges the limiting “boxes” of language itself in attempts to rethink class. For W oolf, class is not monolithic but internally differentiated by gender and race. Examining Woolf’s early work in relation to class theory shows that throughout her career Wool f interrogates the imbrication of gender and race in class politics. She finds class differen ce a fertile source of sa tire, and subjects her own class position to satirical scrutiny. At the same time, a certain psychology of class operates in Woolf: vulnerable to the dissolu tion of ego boundaries because of her mental illness, she at times shores up her sense of identity by reaffirming class boundaries that were otherwise repugnant to her. Thus Wool f vacillates between perceiving class as necessary to “civilization” and championing egalitarian views. Theoretical points of reference for this study incl ude cultural materialism, fe minist standpoint theory,


iii psychoanalysis, and theories of class advanced by Michel F oucault, Pierre Bourdieu, Max Weber, Gary Day, David Cannadine, Be verly Skeggs, and Rosemary Hennessy.


1 CHAPTER ONE “ “ N N o o w w i i s s l l i i f f e e v v e e r r y y s s o o l l i i d d , o o r r v v e e r r y y s s h h i i f f t t i i n n g g ? ? I I a a m m h h a a u u n n t t e e d d b b y y t t h h e e t t w w o o c c o o n n t t r r a a d d i i c c t t i i o o n n s s . ” ”—Virginia Woolf in A Moment’s Liberty: The Shorter Diary, Friday, Jan. 4, 1929, p. 257. A “RATIONAL REBELLIOUSNESS”1: THEORY AND CONTEXT FOR CLASS ISSUES IN WOOLF’S WRITING Virginia Woolf’s epistemology could be characterized as tectonic for to her life often appeared to alternate between the traditional solidity of family and class, and the shifting, seismic changes of the first half of the twen tieth century. These destabilizing shifts also occurred for Woolf at an intimate psychologi cal level during her bouts of mental illness. Some Woolf scholars, such as Pamela Caughie in Virginia Woolf & Postmodernism (1991), claim that Woolf substantially an ticipates a fragmentary, postmodern and deconstructive view of reality. I suggest that Woolf, with one foot in the cradle of the nineteenth century and one in the streets of twentieth-century London, represents an unresolved contradiction or unsynt hesized dialectic. In fact, Marianne DeKoven asserts in Rich and Strange: Gender, History, Modernism (1991) that the heart of the vast body of Modernist literature can be characterized by the sous-rature of Jacques Derrida and the “impossible dialectic” described by Julia Kris teva (4). To Derrida, word and thought are never unified. All signs involve a structure of difference and break apart. Though words are necessary, they are inherent ly inadequate; thus they shou ld be thought of and written as under erasure. Kristeva questions the dichotomy of man/woman and the very notion of a stable identity, challenging de finitions of what is feminine. To Kristeva, the semiotic knows no sexual difference, so as it becomes st ronger, gender differences weaken. Thus I would argue that Woolf’s emphasis on the se miotic, particularly in works such as The


2 Waves (1931), weakens gender-related class divisions. DeKoven emphasizes the useful emblematic quality of the sous-rature concept in representing unr esolved historical shifts in society’s view of the worl d at large, and believes th at deconstruction enacts in philosophy the same moment that modernist wr iting enacts in literat ure: the coexistence of two paradigms which contradict each othe r. Woolf consistently expresses the tug of nostalgia for the traditional at the same time that she races into the future with her experimental fiction and progr essive views on gender and pol itics. Such ambivalence is also reflected, DeKoven observe s, in most other prominen t modernists—including T.S. Eliot, Picasso, E.M. Forster, and James Joyce (185-95). Woolf particularly exhibits this “impossible dialectic” in her positionali ty regarding class, gender, and race. A CONSIDERED PERSPECTIVE ON WOOLF AND CLASS “[Society is] a nest of glass boxes . .” Virginia Woolf in “The Niece of an Earl” (CE1 219-23). The question of class in Woolf should be contextualized, I believe, in terms of a psychology of class connected to Woolf’s fear of dissolution of ego boundaries associated with social divisions and to her st ake in her own class interest. It should also be contextualized in te rms of a theory of class as inte rnally differentiated by gender and as necessary to “civilization,” and in terms of class and literature. Furthermore, care should be taken to excavate the importance of class satire as self-critique and the significance of Woolf’s championing of the co mmon reader. These areas of concern can be perceived as intersecting circles on a Ve nn diagram, for they overlap and affect each other, as well as create particular concentra tions of force in certain areas of Woolf’s life


3 and work. They can also be envisioned as exerting additional circle s of influence that operate much like ripples widening with the toss of a simple pe bble upon a stream. It is this contextual ized approach that I employ in examining the issue of Woolf and class. I have chosen theorists of class a nd language who shed light on this particular mode of viewing Woolf. Cert ainly consideration of the Marxist view of class as exploitative--a view current in WoolfÂ’s life time--and an examination of the views of her contemporaries, such as Forster and Orwell, are appropriate in order to understand her thinking. I have also used the work of neo-m odern Marxist theorists, such as Rosemary Hennessy, who define class as a set of soci al relations undergirding capitalism, and have examined the theories of another Woolf contemporary, Max Weber, because of his realization of the shifting nature of class di visions. I have employed twenty-first century theorists such as Gary Day, David Cannadine and Beverly Skeggs for their particular insights into the development of class c onsciousness in Britain. AlthusserÂ’s work on ideology has been utilized to discuss WoolfÂ’s gradual realization of her interpellation into a society that reproduces capital ist social relations without an apparatus of repression. I have applied the analyses of feminist cri tics such as Nancy Chodor ow and Juliet Mitchell on the links between feminism and psychoana lysis. The work of Donna Haraway, Sandra Harding, and Nancy Hartsock has been brought to bear upon this study because of their groundbreaking work on feminist standpoint th eory, which is helpful in excavating WoolfÂ’s developing stance on cla ss. Last, I have incorporated the important thinking of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu and philos opher Michel Foucault on power, knowledge, and society, and the linguistic work of theorists such as Jacques Derrida and Jacques Lacan


4 because of the multiple epistemological and pol itical aspects of Woolf’s reflections on class issues. Do I offer a neatly boxed-up explana tion for any inconsistencies in Woolf’s thinking or practice? No, for Woolf hers elf would reject any such at tempt. Living in the era of Post-Impressionism in art and literature, Woolf appears to have viewed any major conceptualization as an almost infinite process rather than a final synthesis, as art critic Roger Fry, her good friend, observes in his monograph on Cezanne: For him [Cezanne], as I understood his work, the ultimate synthesis of a design was never revealed in a flash; ra ther he approached it with infinite precautions, stalking it, as it were, now from one point of view, now from another, and always in fear lest a premature definition might deprive it of something of its total complexity. Fo r him the synthesis was an asymptote toward which he was forever approach ing without ever quite reaching it; it was a reality, incapable of complete realization. (qtd. in Harvey) Similarly, one can readily see that throughout her life Wool f resisted premature definitions and categorization—as, for example, she resisted the label of “feminism.” She stalked an understanding of the complexities of life, but she li ved on the edge of reality in a sense, quite convinced that r eality itself was comprised of m obile strata that forever cast kaleidoscopic new shadows, new light: the sous-rature of Modernism. However, we can, and must, continue to stalk and to analyze th e shifting tectonics of Woolf’s perspectives and correct some historical misapprehen sions regarding her position on class.


5 CONTEXT: MARXIST THEORY AND OTHER DEFINITIONS OF CLASS “Why is ‘class’ this sort of ‘lost continent’ in feminist theory?” --Rosemary Hennessy in an essay entitled “Class” (p. 54). Marxism profoundly affected intellectuals of Virginia Woolf’s time and their views on class, including Woolf’s politically-active husband, Leonard; it appe ars to have exerted some general influence upon Virginia as we ll. Marx and Engels plainly state in Manifesto of the Communist Party (commonly known as The Communist Manifesto) that “The history of all hitherto ex isting society is the history of class struggles” (9). Classic Marxist theory predicts that eventually th e capitalist class will be overthrown by the proletarian class in order to establish more humane labor and living conditions. Marx bases his assessment of class struggle upon a meta physical point, for he asserts: “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but, on the contrary, their social existence determines their consciousness” ( A Contribution 11-13). Thus Marx seems to suggest that the practical manife stations of class appear critic al to the development of an individual’s self-perception a nd very epistemology. George Orwell, a contemporary of Woolf’s, develops this concept in The Road to Wigan Pier (1937), a text which will be discussed later in this study. This particul ar emphasis on consciousness resonates most strongly with Woolf, who over the course of her career becomes k eenly aware of the extent to which her very th inking and existence are conditi oned by her class environment. She increasingly engages in a more open dial ectic on class issues, one which to some degree becomes impossible to re solve. Woolf stalks the answers in a manner similar to


6 Lily Briscoe’s troublesome effort to complete her artistic depiction of reality, which does not occur until the final moments of To the Lighthouse (1927), but, unlike Lily, Woolf cannot arrive at a final synthesis and is perhaps closest to resolution only in Three Guineas (1938). In this extended essay, Woolf i ndicts an entire capitalist system based upon patriarchy and class, a system suffo cating to women and one that not only invidiously pervades British so ciety but many other societies as well. Nonetheless, later Woolf stories, essays, and diary comments pe riodically reveal classist remarks that illustrate the great difficulty Orwell identif ies in dissociating one self from the deep impact of early class conditioning. In Marxism, “false consciousness” is seen as an effect of capitalist ideology that prevents the working class fr om recognizing and challenging the exploitation of capitalist social relations. For the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, ideo logy is a precondition of both human sociality and s ubjectivity itself, and operate s by means of the category of the subject. Drawing on Lacan’s theory of the mirror phase, Althusser explains the interpellation of individuals as subjects within specific ideologies, where they independently reproduce capital ist social relations without an apparatus of external, physical repression (qtd. in Weedon 114-15). This is why class is essential to Woolf’s identity and to her psychosexual maturation. It is when she finally realizes her own internalized repressive functioning as an indi vidual assimilated into the ideology of her patriarchal culture that she recognizes her own inevitable complicity in structures of oppression. That same recogniti on brings a mixture of hope and despair in later works, such as Between the Acts (1941). Woolf’s grappling with cla ss issues in her writing is not only a theoretical effort but also ultimately a practical effort in its implications; she


7 performs valuable work that is both epis temologically and politic ally engaged. Woolf’s efforts illustrate Michel Foucault’s contention that “the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticize the working of in stitutions which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticize them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight them” (“Human Nature” 171). Woolf embarks upon a major process of consciousness raising for both herself and her patriarchal Br itish society, starting with early, short works and her first novel, The Voyage Out (1915), and culminating in Three Guineas and Between the Acts How does one define “cl ass”? Post-Marxist views of class approach this question differently. Three especially relevant view s are advanced by Davi d Cannadine, Gary Day, and Max Weber. In The Decline and Fall of th e British Aristocracy (1998), David Cannadine defines “class” as “hierarchy,” expl aining that in Britain class consciousness has historically involved th e awareness of different objec tive circumstances of status, power, and wealth—as well as a sense of onese lf in time, as in a consciousness of ancestral paintings, ninety-nine-year leases a nd so forth (24). To illustrate the extent of the hierarchy, Cannadine quot es A. Arnold’s claim that in the late 1870s only 7,000 families owned four-fifths of the land in Brit ain (9). Primogeniture dominated the gentry, and the position of the elite rested upon popular sanction, for to most people, an unequal division of resources was the natural and legitim ate order of things (12-15). Interestingly, Cannadine spends an entire section of hi s book explaining his own “bias and intuition,” providing in effect an instan ce of the standpoint theory for which American feminists such as Nancy Hartsock and Donna Harra way have become well-known. Cannadine


8 argues that one cannot understand history without first understanding the historian—a view with which Woolf surely would have agr eed, and one that is superbly illustrated by Woolf’s contemporary, George Orwell, in The Road to Wigan Pier. In fact, Woolf’s increasing consciousness of and willingness to grapple with the implications of her class position, and its relation to th e patriarchy and empire-bu ilding of her native land, constitutes one of her admirable achieve ments. Of course in Woolf’s time the primogeniture and land-basis for class deve lopment was changing, yielding somewhat to status-based class development not always, or not fully, based upon land-holding. British sociologist Gary Day traces this deve lopment in detail in his book entitled Class (2001). GARY DAY’S DEFINITION OF CLASS Although “class” refers in broad terms to divisions in society, Ga ry Day argues that it is notoriously difficult to define becaus e it occurs across a range of disciplines (sociology, literary criticism, politics, cultural studies) that give it different weightings and meanings. “Class” first entered the E nglish language in 1656 in Thomas Blount’s Glossographia where it was defined as a navy, shi p, order, or distribution. The word itself originates in the Latin classis ( classes as its plural) as a variant of colare which means to proclaim or call out or summon a religious assembly ( Class 2-5). In a nexus particularly relevant to Woolf and her writing, Day discusses Georg Lukcs’ claim that literature, especially the novel, is able to penetrate society by identifying hidden connections and trends whic h could result in radi cal transformation. Although Woolf’s style of i ndirection and satire ofte n masks her intent in The Voyage Out she seems to have aimed for this result fr om the publication of ev en this first novel,


9 where Rachel begins to question the unsavory, hidden underpinnings of British patriarchy. Day demonstrates the merit of this claim in excava ting the ideological function of the term “human nature” in the exchange relation of capitalism in Mrs. E. Gaskell’s 1855 novel, North and South (135-40). In The Voyage Out, and in her subsequent novel, Night and Day (1919), Woolf similarly examines the exchange relation of capitalism involved in marriage. Day also notes the contemporary influence of French Marxist Louis Althusser’s assertion that l iterature can make us conscious of the ideological nature of our ordina ry conception of reality (2,199) Certainly this is a stance that Woolf supports tenaciously, especially in the later part of her career. Day’s focus is the relation between literature and exchange (the system of money, including its uses and meaning); in Marxist fashion, he argues that the growth of exchange represents the victory of bourgeois capitalism over aristocr atic feudalism (1-2). In his study, Day distinguishes between culture and status: to him, culture enacts a “struggle between dominant and subordinate groups over the cons truction and meaning of social experience. In short, the concept of status is premised on social stability, that of culture on social conflict” (11). Day also discusses the ramifications of German sociologist Max Weber’s much-earlier articulation of differences between class and status. Weber’s definition of class emphasizes not production, but the restrictions upon a person’s oppor tunities to earn a good income, to buy high-quality products, and to enjoy a good quality of life. Thus, for Weber, class is finally based upon market opera tion; status, however, is defined in terms of prestige and respec t in one’s community—thus, for example, being a priest might carry high status but provide little income ( 10). Weber provides distin ctions relevant to a


10 discussion of classism. For one, Woolf enjoyed high status in her soci ety (social capital), particularly later in her career, but did not be long to the aristocrac y, nor did she possess a great deal of material wealth. For anot her, Woolf also offers a gender-nuanced understanding of class which insists upon ge nder-equity in educational opportunities for women—and thus, theoretically at least, equa l opportunities to engage in the professions, followed by an improved quality of life. These women she simultaneously urges to work toward a more peaceful world, free of world wa rs and other violent conflicts. These aims are encouraged in Three Guineas when the narrator states that she will donate her three guineas to these three relate d causes. Rather than viewi ng class as based upon production, Woolf exhibits Weber’s conception of class as based upon a person’s ability to advance in society by attain ing the opportunity to earn a high income (with education strongly implied as the means to do so). This view of class is foundational to her championing of the common reader; it is also partly thr ough offering her own writing to readers as a way of uncovering the dominant sexist, classist, a nd racist ideology of her time that Woolf promotes by her practice the critical readi ng and thinking which is the basis for selfeducation (as well as institutionalized educat ion) for both genders. Furthermore, in her essays and formal talks—such as the disc ussion of highbrow and lowbrow on the BBC in the 1930s—she directly attempts to educat e her readers and li steners on the vital importance of critical reading and thinking. Woolf also emph asizes habits of critical reading and thinking on the part of the common reader as esse ntial for the maintenance of democracy and civilization in general. Melba Cuddy-Keane has superbly detailed Woolf’s attempts to encourage readers and liste ners to think for themselves in her recent book, Virginia Woolf: The Intelle ctual, and the Public Sphere (2004).


11 Day develops an explanation of the deve lopment of class consciousness in Britain that helps us to understand not only the context of Woolf’s thinking about class, but also some threads of contemporary thought regarding cl ass that she seems to anticipate. In A Room of One’s Own (1929), Woolf identifies what Day articulates in his book in more postmodern terms: money determines “the very coordinates of culture —its structures of representation and means of evaluation” (204) Woolf later develops a nuanced critique of the coordinates of capitalism in Mrs. Dalloway (1925). Day believes that some modernists emphasized cultural differences between human beings exactly because the new exchange relation, making all commoditie s equal because paper money and coins were now used to represent them, “threatened to confer a spurious equality on people” (156). Day cites the particul arly provocative argument of Jean-Joseph Goux, who suggests that the style of modernism is di rectly related to ne w monetary concepts: Was it purely by chance that the crisis of realism in the novel and in painting coincided with the end of gold money? Or that the birth of “abstact” art coincided with the s hocking invention of inconvertible money signs? Can we not see in this double crisis of money and language the collapse of guarantees and frames of reference, a rupture between sign and thing, undermining representati on and ushering in the age of the floating signifier? (G oux qtd. in Day 157) Day offers a dramatic example from modernist writer D.H. Lawrence to illustrate the effect of this shift in th e exchange relation, quoting Ursu la’s ranting in Lawrence’s The Rainbow : “‘I hate it, that anybody is my equal who has the same amount of money as I have. I know I am better than all of them. I hate them. They are not my equals. I hate


12 equality on a money basis. It is the equality of dirt’”(156) Woolf sometimes felt this way when she traveled in a crowded rail carri age; however, she pushed beyond her own inherited class envelope to examine her own classism, also joyously celebrating her rides on London’s omnibuses and the ebb and flow of London’s richly divers e classes even as she worked to improve life for at least that s ub-strata of British class life which cut across other, more vertical class definitions: th at of women from all walks of life, but particularly those disadvantaged and une ducated daughters of educated men. The dislocation of class and culture is perceived by Day as repr esenting a shift from two traditions in England: a Marxist tradition in which culture is connected to society’s economic base, and a humanistic English tradition which conceives of culture as the positive development of qualities characteris tic of one’s humanity. Thus Marxist tradition sees culture as reflec ting bourgeois capitalism, and the English tradition views it as a correction for a society overtaken by the profit motive. Day points out that the belief that “high” culture reflects values critical of capitalism is not one generally acceptable today; he notes also that, though popular culture may appear classless, it is in fact based on consumption and a fundamental appeal to i ndividuals rather than to groups (202-03). I believe that a lack of unders tanding of the subversive nature of “high” culture (even as expressed and promoted in Clive Bell’s problematic book, Civilization ) has contributed to the monolithic view some still hold of Woolf as a snob. The “high” culture promoted by Bell in his book, and by Woolf in her Blooms bury circle, as well as in her writing, promotes the idea, for instance, that one s hould be satisfied with a modest amount of money sufficient for one’s needs and for th e simple pleasures of books and a limited amount of travel. Sacrificing one’s soul to a money-making industrial machine in order to


13 gain great wealth was frowned upon—surely a value subversive to capitalism. In fact, both as a writer and in her personal life Woolf promoted many values that were essentially revolutionary in terms of her patriarchal society, and she championed individual liberty against the accepted virt ues of social conformity, all the while questioning the manner in which social cla ss was constructed by means of patriarchal language and practice. To Woolf, patriarchy prec edes class and is rooted in the family, as she argues in Three Guineas. If one’s identity is unstable—a nd, of course, identity is an important topic of examination in the modernist period—then be ing honest inevitably brings contradiction or the sous-rature of Kristeva and Derrida. In Orwell’ s words, “If you se cretly think of yourself as a gentleman and as such the supe rior of the greengrocer ’s errand boy, it is far better to say so than to tell lies abou t it. Ultimately you have got to drop your snobbishness, but it is fatal to pretend to drop it before you are ready to do so” ( The Road 200). Part of the reason that Woolf has been portrayed as a snob is that indeed she was born into the upper middle class and only gradually (and perhaps never fully) disencumbered herself of its stultifying a nd destructive views on class. E.M. Forster declared that she bravely stated the trut h even when it was unpopular and that her snobbery was comprised less of arrogance than of bravery (Zwerdling, Virginia Woolf 89). MAX WEBER’S DEFINITION OF CLASS The famed sociologist Max Weber, who was politically active in Germany prior to and during World War I and died prematurely during Woolf’s lifetime, offers a definition of “class” as any group of persons occupying the same class status. “Class status” is


14 defined as the possession of th ree things: a) goods, b) extern al conditions of life, and c) subjective satisfaction or frustration. Types of classes are distinguished by a) property, b) acquisition (when class position is determined chiefly by chances to exploit services available), and c) social class. “Social class” is defined as comprised of “the plurality of class statuses between which an interchange of individuals on a pers onal basis or in the course of generations is r eadily possible and typically ob servable” (Weber 424). I have chosen to use Weber’s theoretical articu lation in thinking about class because he ultimately views class as a somewhat shifting category, and I believe that Woolf eventually recognizes the same unstable st ructure when she examines her own gender status in relation to conven tional definitions of class. In fact, Weber states that “Transitions from one class status to another vary greatly in fluidity and in the ease with which an individual can enter the class. Hence the unity of ‘social’ classes is highly relative and variable” (425). In excavating class issues, Woolf similarly discovers that traditionally-perceived class unity is deceptive but that class noneth eless functions as a powerful shaping force for an individual ’s perception of self and behavior. BOURDIEU, SKEGGS, HENNESSY, ORWELL Other theories of class useful in u nderstanding Woolf are thos e of Pierre Bourdieu, twentieth-century Marxist sociologist; Beverly Skeggs and Rosemary Hennessy, contemporary British sociologists; and the inve stigative insights of British political writer, novelist and journalist, George Orwell, who sheds th e light of experience on the dilemma of class in Britain in the early tw entieth century. Victor Gollancz, progressive English publisher and founder of the Left Book Club, suggests in his introduction to


15 Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pie r, that Orwell felt compelled by conscience to be a socialist but also compelled to conform to the mental habits of his upper middle class (xvii-xviii). His dilemma is al so, periodically at least, Woolf’s dilemma. How does one escape the envelope of class into which one is born? Is Orwell both anti-snobbery and a snob himself? What about Woolf, who professe d to dislike upward social climbers, yet declared that she would “plump for the prin ce” and put a coroneted letter on the top of the pile for guest to notice (Nicolson 137)? Orwell, who made a project of visiting members of the working class at the request of the Left Book Club in order to understand how lower-class people lived and worked, concludes in The Road to Wigan Pier that some working-class people are disgusting (like a certain Mrs. Brooker, who wipes her mout h on her blankets and then on strips of newspaper) but that these poor people are bypro ducts of the modern industrialist world, with the rich living out of their pockets (16-17). It is important to note that this book was written during the Depression. Watching miners work in hellish conditions causes doubts about one’s own status as an intellectual supe rior, he says, for one can remain superior only because miners are sweating their guts out (34-35). One is reminded of Bernard’s similar conclusion in Woolf’s The Waves about the dependence of writers upon the work of servants in order to carve out the leisur e necessary to write. Orwell’s insight that, to many socialists, revolution means reforms that “we,” the clever ones, will impose on the lower orders is an insight Woolf seems to ha ve had as well, recogni zing and rejecting the hypocrisy of some socialist do-gooders and their interminable meetings. Orwell states directly his belief that, before one can decide his or her position on socialism, he or she must take up a definite attitude on the difficult issue of class. Thus,


16 Orwell says, he must discuss how his own a ttitude toward class was formed. In so explaining his class background and attitude, he provides so me comment on the general state of the English class system, which he views as done with after the Great War (World War I). Many people no longer owned la nd but went into the military service or the professions. Gentility became theoretica l in a sense; one kept up appearances, learning to ride even if one c ouldn’t afford to keep a horse. To Orwell, this was the chief attraction of service in India (or elsewhere in the far reaches of empire), for there the upper middle-class could have cheap horses, bl ack servants, and coul d play at gentility ( The Road 153-56)--as Leonard Woolf, a Jew exclude d from upper-class life in Britain, did in Ceylon. The chief insight that Orwell brings to bear upon a discussion of Virginia Woolf and class is his conviction that to abolish class distinction is to abolish part of yourself, for class intimately and pervasively fo rms your tastes, habits, and life ( The Road 193). I believe that Woolf recognized this complicated relation of identity to class early in her life. She may have been particularly sensitiv e to it because of her own difficulties with psychic boundaries and mental illness; eventua lly, she became keenly aware of how class forms one’s world view and over-arching paradi gm for living (particularly in the Britain of her period, with its relative ly rigid class distinctions). For instance, as a philosophical matter, she wanted to follow Leonard’s s uggestion that they cut back on household expenditures, but she also wrote of the difficulty, for her, of such a move. In her introduction to Life as We Have Known It (1931) a collection of essays by working-class women edited by Margaret Llewelyn Davi es, Woolf notes that she has not had experiences similar to those of contributors and admits that “If every reform they demand


17 was granted this very instant it would not t ouch one hair of my co mfortable capitalistic head” ( Life xix ). What other elements of class c onsciousness delineated by Orwell inform Woolf’s thinking and writing as her car eer progresses? Certainly in her early novels and stories, Woolf appears to take the existence of se rvants for granted--though one must remember that in her lifetime the employ ment of servants in Britain was customary for the middle class as well as the upper class. Woolf coul d be criticized for exhibiting class snobbery by virtue of her very failure to investigate their material liv es and character to any large extent in her early writing. There are, how ever, a few notable exceptions, such as the portrait of Nurse Lugton in “Nurse Lugt on’s Golden Thimble,” an early sketch.2 Critics have frequently found the presen ce of servants or other work ing-class characters to be insubstantially developed, as an examination of Night and Day and other early writing reveals. Exceptions occur in a limited fashion in The Voyage Out. Later, however, Woolf openly states her realization that she si mply cannot enter adequately into the consciousness of her lo wer-class characters because of her upper-middle-class upbringing; she finally recognizes that the class into which sh e was born is a liability for her as a novelist in this regard. She hesitate d on occasion to even share her sketches of working-class characters, embarrassed at thei r inadequacy. I suggest that Woolf found herself betwixt and between in DeKoven’s m odernist sense on this issue, for she had committed to a new type of novel in which sh e chose to focus on the inner life of her characters, the fluid consciousness of indi viduals not rendered fully in the bulk of previous writing. How could she render th e inner consciousness of servants whose material lives she was not pr ivy to and did not directly investigate? Woolf points out


18 herself in her essay, “The Niece of an Earl” (originally published in 1928), that literature of the past had relied upon a reader’s quick recognition of the charac ter’s class by way of the writer’s description of cl othing, mannerisms, and other exte rnal class markers. Such literature was not the kind she wished to writ e, yet frequently this may have seemed her only practical approach for ar ticulating the lives of servan ts and members of the lowerclass. However, in this essay Woolf clearl y indicates the enormous difficulty of using fiction to provide insight into the lower classes, primarily because the working classes do not write about themselves; if they are educated enough to do so, then, in a strict sense, they cannot be called lower-class. She even pred icts a classless society in a future, more democratic world. Woolf repeatedly articulates her desire to be an outsider, yet she recognizes only later in her writing career that she always will also be an insider, and that her insider status results in complicity with certain problematic is sues related to class. Nonetheless, as Alex Zwerdling observes, “She wrote about cla ss and money with exceptional frankness at a time when these subjects were increasingly felt to be indecent. The democratic pressures of her culture encouraged many writers to suppress or minimi ze the signs of privilege in their own backgrounds” ( Virginia Woolf 88). Though she significantly redefined it, Woolf’s favorite genre was the novel. What other connections exist between class and the novel? Gary Day argues that postmodern thinking should not insist on the separation of “literature” and exchange, for the growth of exchange represents the triumph of bourgeois capitalism over aristocratic feudalism (2). Woolf herself seems sensitive to this nexus in her increas ing concern with the economic and political effects of patriarchy (especially in Three Guineas ), in her focus on


19 the common reader, and in her participation in the 1930s public disc ussion of differences between what is considered “highbrow” a nd “lowbrow.” Day discusses a number of social theorists who demonstrate relationships between class and th e development of the novel—relationships which would have intere sted Woolf a great deal, for she also connected the two. Nancy Armstrong argues th at the novel has been important for the construction of class identity for the nascent middle class. Fredric Jameson suggests that the appearance of the novel is a function of the separation of social and economic spheres, a move from a moral to a market economy (108-09). Georg Lukcs claims that literature (and particularly th e novel) is able to penetrate society, calling attention to hidden connections and underlying trends which could lead to revolutionary transformation. Day also calls attention to L ouis Althusser’s asser tion that “literature” can heighten our awareness of the ideological nature of our conventional idea of “reality” (1-2). Reading Woolf in the light of theorist s of ideology such as these leads to a more sharply-defined portrait of Woolf, one whic h makes her appear revolutionary for her class and historical period despite her traditional inclinations in other respects. In Formations of Class and Gender, British sociologist Beve rly Skeggs states that “respectability is one of the most ubiquitous signifiers of class” (1). Respectability involves judgments--of class, race, gender, and sexuality. Recogn ition of how one is positioned socially is vital to the subjective construction of the self. As someone writing about her own British society, Skeggs points out that respectability became central to the development of “Englishness” and a means by which moral authority was made public. Eventually it became a property of middle-cl ass individuals defined against the masses, which were seen as needing c ontrol and as lacking in indivi duality (2-3). Skeggs notes


20 Finch’s definition of the “classing gaze,” a te rm denoting the Enlightenment project of constituting “reason” by classifying observ able behavior—a project enabled by new technologies such as photography and ethnogr aphy. According to Skeggs, women were placed at the heart of the project on cla ssifying behavior, and they were the ones primarily observed. In fact, Fi nch observes that the cult of domesticity was vital to the self-defining of the middle classes and to an imperialist nation (qtd. in Skeggs 4-5). Class is defined by Skeggs as “. . a discursive, historically specific c onstruction, a product of middle-class political consolidation, which in cludes elements of fantasy and projection. The historical generation of classed categorizations provide [sic] discursive frameworks which enable, legitimate, and map out material inequalities” (5). Further, she asserts that categories of class not only function as organi zing principles which either limit or enable access to social movement and interactions but also are reproduced as “structures of feeling”—or, as Skeggs defines it, the feeling that one may not measure up to expectations (6). I argue that Woolf may have feared a dissolution of identity, a further dissolution of rationality--which she certainly experienced during her bouts of mental illness--if she tried to “de-class” herself too extensively and to champion too overtly the claims of democratic equality (at leas t in her younger years). In the climate of anti-Semitism of Britain (traced by Bradshaw, Snaith, and ot hers) she may have felt some sense of inferiority in having married a Jew. Because she had married an “other,” an outcast of sorts, did she now in a sense belong to a lower class? In an article on Flush (2002), Anna Snaith delineates some of the anti-Semitism prevalent in areas like Whitechapel in the Woolfs’ lifetime (“Of Fanciers”). Ethnic ha tred and discrimination, particularly as


21 practiced in Britain during the 1930s, must have resulted in the Woolfs feeling at least partially marginalized. As Kum-Kum Bhavnani and Meg Couls on observe, race is a factor which confronts feminism by forcing attention to difference, identity, and colonialis m (78). It is wellknown that Leonard Woolf served for years as a colonial administra tor in Ceylon and was steeped in the experience of colonial rasc ist practices. It is also common knowledge among Woolf scholars that Virgin ia accepted an inheritance from an aunt with imperialist connections in India and that she was concerne d in major ways with issues of exclusion and marginality in her writing.3 Like most members of her class in the first decades of the century, she and Leonard employed servants. Detractors have pointed out the nebulous existence of servants in her fiction4; however, I will argue that despite Woolf’s ironic marginalization of servants in some of he r fiction, she gradually acknowledged the vital role servants played in real life—including the essential provis ion of services that enabled her to engage in a writing career. See, for example, Bernard’s comments on the lady writing in the window in The Waves where he notes that her activity is enabled by the servant sweeping below, and the characterization of Mabel (one of the Woolf servants) as the Queen in Between the Acts Nonetheless, Woolf became ever more acutely conscious that she was not privy to the i nner lives of servants or other members of the working class and that she thus could not portray them realis tically in her fiction. Two of the last short stories she is known to have worked on before she died, “The Ladies Lavatory” and “The Watering Place” (unpublished), reveal the results of Woolf’s eavesdropping on details of the lives of lower-class women using a la vatory. Heather Levy discusses Woolf’s references to the origins of these stories in Woolf’s visit to a Brighton teashop. For Levy,


22 Woolf’s use of the final month of her life to work on questions of representation of the bodies of working-class women indicates that Woolf felt this was an unresolved issue and that lower-class women remained “ghos t figures” not well understood by an uppermiddle-class woman observer—a substantial, lingering gap between women of different social classes (“These Ghost Figures” 34-5, 37). Pierre Bourdieu suggests a model of class based on “capital.” To Bourdieu, class is an arbitrary definition with real so cial effects. He identifies four types of class, citing groups with economic capital; cultural capital (including education) ; social capital (involving a variety of social relationship s); and symbolic capital (respect authority, position in one’s culture linked to linguistic power). Acce ss, resources, and legitimation (social recognition) are all factors in class forma tion. Class positions are institutionalized, offering labor market rewards; they are not simp ly relative social rela tions. In Bourdieu’s terms, Woolf attempted to increase her sym bolic capital (restricted as a woman judged by the values of men) by developing a career as a writer. It was necessary for her to stay on good terms with middleand upper-class fell ow writers, and she undoubtedly felt the need to stay connected to th e literary establishment whic h would print her essays and stories and comment upon her work. In plain te rms, she needed a receptive, critical audience—both the common reader and the high brow, if you will--in order to continue to publish and sell her novels, stories, and essays. She had the advantage of assets, such as the inheritance from her aunt and the more intangible but equally important literary tradition inherited from her father—as we ll as the later asset (though not always profitable) of the Hogarth Press. She also possessed the advantage of space, beginning with the “outsider” space of Bloomsbury shar ed with her siblings and friends, and later


23 the figurative (and literal) “room of one’s own” she carved out of her marriage to Leonard, in the sense of negotiating an inde pendent, private writi ng life and the physical writing space in which to pursue it. PSYCHOANALYTICAL AND FEMINI ST THEORIES OF CLASS Beverly Skeggs notes that, according to Foucault, subjectivity can only be constructed from inside social structures and relations (1 2). Subject positions are different from social positions, which are founded upon categories such as class, race, and gender. Subjectivity is a result of being “subj ect to” knowledge, discourse, and regulation—and constructing subjectivity in the process. Examples ar e women’s experiences of what it is to be through categorization as “woman,” “heterosexual,” or “feminine.” Identifying oneself with a particular subject and social position is the means by whic h coherence in identity is achieved. Class is central to a woman’s cons truction of a subject position, relying upon a judgmental, dialogic “other” and operating at a personal, emotional level (Skeggs 12-13). I would argue that, in terms of Skeggs’ definition, Woolf’ s subject position was thus hardly as advantageous as her general me mbership in the upper middle class. She experienced diminished economic capital as a single woman dependent upon father, family, and later—as a married woman—upon her husband (mitigated, of course, by her symbolic capital as a writer). She suffered a gap in cultural capital because of her lack of a university education, and perhaps because of not producing any children. She did maintain social capital in relationships w ith many friends and acquaintances as she matured, but not as a young and awkward singl e person sitting out dances as George Duckworth tried to introduce her to “socie ty.” She lacked symbolic capital until she


24 finally gained recognition as a writer. Intere stingly, at this point she worked hard to connect with the common reader, who was becoming a serious cultural force. Rosemary Hennessy offers further overview and analysis of class th eory that is useful in interpreting what Woolf hints at but ar ticulates only partially and obliquely. To Hennessy, class is often under-conceptualized—p erhaps another reason for Woolf’s lack of directness at times in anal yzing it-for class is referred to as an empirical reality but not fully discussed as a critical concept. She points out that so me radical feminists understand classism as a social system whic h is a byproduct of patriarchal oppression of women. As such, it is a cultural system, a set of status distinctions She notes that Max Weber sees class as one compone nt of social stratification; thus class is viewed as an interaction with economic, legal, and cultura l structures--which is different from the Marxist historical materialist definition of class as an expl oitative social phenomenon. To Weber, “class” refers to a ny group of individuals who shar e a common mark et situation in terms of properties or goods they own. Anot her approach to class is that of the postMarxist, postmodern cultural materialist analys is, where the premise is that culture is not related in any determinate manner to social relations which are not cultural. Some holding this view believe that there are no objective class relations outside of language, that meanings are unstable, a nd that power operates through diffuse sources rather than exclusively by means of hierar chy. Thus class relations posse ss no reality apart from their discursive formation (qtd. in Hennessy 59-60). To Hennessy, attending to class as a set of social relations th at undergird capitalism, rather than simply as a marker of cu ltural status, has enormous transformative implications for international politics. It ener gizes a network of rela ted concepts helpful


25 for understanding social relations, for lear ning from the past, and for identifying structures of power which are often hidde n but which form the foundations of our experience ((70-71). Woolf gradually came to s ee these broader implications of class and eventually investigated them in her later work s, yet she was also conscious of a personal and Modernist dilemma in deal ing with categorical statements: how could she criticize a system which had produced her own father, Leslie Stephen, and his oeuvre ? Her brothers, Thoby and Adrian? Her nephew, Julian? Her husband, Leonard? In th e end we often see Woolf inhabiting a sous rature or double space, a schizoph renic view reminiscent of Septimus, the mentally ill victim of war in Mrs. Dalloway Woolf wishes to be bold, she wishes to make a difference, she wishes to uncover the true delete rious undergirding of her society; nonetheless, casting such labels of aspersion implicates her, as well as her own family members (though she often made fu n of them as well, particularly male family members), and reminds her of th e very shifting space of language itself. I argue that Woolf eventually devel oped a standpoint on class (as well as on other issues), one often in oppositi on to the androcentric din ar ound her, and that standpoint theory can help to understand the evolution of her thought and writing. Nancy C.M. Hartsock, in The Feminist Standpoint R evisited and Other Essays defines “standpoint” as an interested, engaged position which conte nds that there are so me perspectives in society from which the real relations of hu man beings with the natural world and with each other are not visible. Feminist standpoi nt theory is an epistemological tool developed on a methodologica l base provided by Marxist th eory, though it differs from Marxist meta-theory by claiming that women’s lives differ structurally from those of men. In the same way that Marx’s idea of class consciousness--looking at the world from


26 the historically-constructed viewpoint of the proletariat--made it possible to expose bourgeois ideology, feminist standpoint theory assists in comprehending how patriarchal institutions and ideologies pe rvert humane social relationshi ps (106-07). As Marx pointed out, material life structures understandi ng. Power is exercised through control of ideological production by the ruling group (qtd. in Hartsock 109-110). Hartsock also cites ChodorowÂ’s study of the psychological development of females, one which demonstrates that, because of fe male parenting, girls are less differentiated from others than are boys, and are differently oriented to the inner object world as well. As a result, women experience and define themselves relationally in a way that men do not. Hartsock notes that the construction of the self for males in relation to one who phantasmatically threatens oneÂ’s being (as the mother does, in the psychoanalytic view), and from whom one must separate, results in a hierarchical dualism, including the construction both of a masculinist world view and class society. To Hartsock, dualism is a hallmark of phallocentric society and social theory and has influenced the manner in which class society has been organized since Plato (78-80). In fact Hartsock concludes that capitalism and class society may be the results of patriarchy (86). Juliet Mitchell claims that the fact th at men exchange women (rather than vice versa) explains the patriarchal nature of society. Some assert th at what the father symbolizes in this exchange represents the power of the sy mbolic order to name things for what they are (qtd. in Tong 153). Woolf eventually drew many of the same conclusions as Chodorow, Hartsock, and Mitchell. Though he r insights and arguments are expressed covertly and tenuously, often under cover of satir e, they interrogate gender/class relations with regard to the social a rrangement of marriage as a mean s to perpetuate patriarchy. In


27 The Voyage Out Woolf chooses actual death for her heroine, Rachel, rather than the irony of “death” to her individual tale nt and personhood should she agree to the convention of marriage. Woolf demonstrates in this novel that the illness of an oppressive society has infected a healthy, young girl and caused her to succumb to death because of its invidious sexism and classism. In Night and Day she explores an alternative in the focus upon the mutually satisfying relationshi p between the soon-to-be married Katharine Hilbery and the single suffragist, Mary Da tchett: intense female bonding, with possible lesbian overtones. However, Woolf is not ye t ready to launch her much more extensive and overt attack upon the very system whic h has produced a critical need for such alternatives. Theorists such as Alison Ja ggar have noted the continuing alienation of women from themselves intellectually, fearing es pecially to argue their ideas in a public space (qtd. in Tong 127). The careful reader can not fail to notice Woolf’s frequent fears of possible disapproval by (especially) male friends, relatives, a nd critics. Woolf was particularly self-conscious about her l ack of formal education. However, in Three Guineas she finally evolves to the point of rela tively confident, direct expression of outrage against what she perceives as the in terconnected web of pa triarchy, empire, and war. One might note other reasons for Woolf’s ego-boundary problems: possibly her intense attachment to Vanessa and Violet Di ckinson as maternal substitutes after the death of her mother; the influence of early se xual trauma; her history of mental illness. Whatever the mix of factors, he r sense of the fluidity of gi ven categories influences her thinking on class, gender, and other issues, and makes her a prime example of DeKoven’s identification of the “impossible dialecti c” as a characteristic of Modernism. The Waves,


28 in addition to other works, demonstrates th e intense interplay of the psyches of six characters that epitomize this dialectic. Similarly, Three Guineas reveals a brilliant analysis of the manner in which class, gender, capitalism, patriarchy, war, and imperialism are linked. Woolf was conscious of the dark fin beneath surface reality from a relatively early age. The fin beneath the waves was perhap s an allusion to some indeterminate, destructive sea creature but also apparen tly her metaphor for d eath/entropy/war/other destructive elements--a reference va riously interpreted by Woolf scholars5 and an image useful for a discussion of the relations hip between her psyche and class/gender identification issues. Having to repress he r real feelings amid the emotional and economic tyranny created by Leslie Stephen afte r the death of her mo ther is perhaps the most dramatic of these early indications of difficulty in dealing with the practical, everyday ideological implications of patriarc hy. As Woolf has famously said, her writing career would not have existed had her father not died when he did. I believe that gender-i nflected class positioning affect ed Woolf’s mental health. Of course, there were psycho-biological factors a nd some family history of mental illness; however, Woolf’s increasing rec ognition of the manner in whic h material differences in the lived experience of women we re connected to structures of patriarchy created at times an unbearable tension, and helped to push her toward breakdown. In a study of sexuality and social relations, Rosalind Coward poi nts out that psychoa nalysis reveals how precarious individuality is, forcing a person to maintain coherence by fiercely clinging to fixed, socially-defined roles. Sexual subjec tivity is constructed only by means of entry into a culture which is anatomically bifur cated (266-67). Freud’s infamous “anatomy as


29 destiny” theories of female sexuality—partic ularly the need for women’s painful cultural adaptation in sexual terms and the belief in compensation for lack--would have been familiar to Woolf, since the Hogarth Press wa s Freud’s first publisher in England. Woolf also met Freud. Her brother, Adrian, underw ent psychoanalysis and became an analyst. Woolf clearly eventually asked the question asked by Foucault: how do we come to believe that we are oppressed? Her answer was embedded in issues of class which were embedded in structures of patriarchy. Cons ciousness-raising without power to effect change produces individuals who become ev en more deeply frustrated. After initial examinations of the imbrication of the struct ure of marriage in the fabric of both class and patriarchy, she later also confronted issues of aging and childlessness in the same manner—particularly in Mrs. Dalloway. She recognized that, as Gayatri Spivak says, “The uterine norm of womanhood supports the phallic norm of capitalism” ( In Other Worlds 153). An individual is interp ellated into an ideology as s ubject by means of language. To Freud, language is motivated by a desire for pow er, but the ego is often not unified or in control because it is a produc t of repression which is continuously subject to the disruptions of the unconscious. According to Lacan, subjectivity is divided and involves a sense of unity based upon mirror misrecogni tion. The subject’s in ability to control meaning motivates language. Yet, the speaker is never the author of the language in which he or she takes a position. The “I” which is an effect of langua ge illustrates where the individual is inserted into the patriarchal symbolic order (qtd. in Weedon 119-21). Woolf was constantly in conflict over her cu lture’s preoccupation with the tyranny of the “I.” Ironically, she was also often worried that her writing might reflect too much


30 preoccupation with her own “I.” Post-Lacanian feminists, lik e Julia Kristeva, view the unconscious as the site of the repr essed feminine, with roots in the semiotic or preOedipal relations with the mother. To Kristeva the subject is always in process because it is constituted by language, whic h is always in the process of change. For the female subject to speak is to inhabit the discourse permitted by the patriarchal symbolic order. Luce Irigaray agrees, claiming that reason, the subject, and langua ge have all been constructed as male; to be heard within th e symbolic, women are forced to speak like men, and thus much of what is female is not represented. The key to change is to develop a female imaginary (qtd. in Weedon 122-23). I believe that Woolf developed her own similar, rather postmodern epistemology along these same lines, realizing as early as A Room of One’s Own (based on her 1928 lectures at Cambridge) that one of the biggest influen ces upon the real lives of women was the very manner in which they were thought of (and then spoken about and treated) by men. Subjectivity thus is an effect of language. Note, for example, Woolf’s description of the bubbl e of male thinking about women with which she is surrounded as she tries to read in the British Library, a scene desc ribed with Horation irony in A Room of One’s Own. These images produce material effect s in the dominant (usually male) discourse which constructs power relationships as Foucault has poi nted out so clearly. Woolf addresses the need for female language, particularly for a new female syntax or sentence structure to accommodate female differences. Early on, she realizes the paramount influence of language upon genderinflected class issues—including the key issue of epistemological structure and its influence upon perception. The material linguistic and thought practices of her patriarchal cultu re resulted in real and deleterious


31 effects. Furthermore, in novels such as Orlando (1928), Woolf begins to iterate a theory of performativity relevant to gender (and clas s) identity which resembles that of the postmodern theorist Judith Butler. Woolf might even be viewed as anticipating Jacques Derrida in his emphasis upon meaning as a vortex of unfixed plurality. Politics comes into pl ay for Woolf as well. Maroula Joannou’s Women Writers of the 1930s: Gender, Politics and History (1999) calls atte ntion to the deeply politicized literary culture of women writers of the pe riod—one obscured when reading conventional critical commentaries of the time simply becau se women were marginalized or left out of such commentary. Many middle-class female intellectuals reacted with shame at the contrast between their lives of comfort and the poverty-stricken lives of others, as British writers of the 1930s shifted to the left in recognizing the centralit y of culture in the struggle for power. Tensions were sometimes evident between authors who placed more value upon artistic change than upon social change and vice versa (2-5). Though much writing of the 30s was still strongly conservative, many also began to see that relationships of domination and oppression were determined not just by gender but by a constellation of race, class, age, history, religion, and politics. As Joannou observes, gender is now seen as always experienced in identifiable and specific historical situations. Women in the 30s were the first in British history to believe in large numbers that the struggle for equality as citizens had been won (all women over 21 could vote in Britain as of 1928). Nonetheless, some women working toward change in mixed organizations were worried over identificati on with feminism because they feared it augured separation between the sexes. The Duchess of Atholl, for instance, is said to have expressed a fear that a pproaching politics exclusively from a woman’s poi nt of view


32 might lead to a sex antagonism worse than that between party or class (Joannou 7-10). Remembering this concern of fellow write rs, perhaps some might better understand Woolf’s dislike of being labeled a “feminis t”—though there were also other reasons for her dislike of that label. This particular dislike, confusing for some impressed by her work on behalf of women, points up her aver sion to preachy, conf ining categories of exclusion and marks her as part of the “rich and strange” mi xture of contradictions now labeled “modernism.” In fact, I contend that one key to understanding Woolf’s complex and evolving thinking and practices regarding class issues has to do with he r very keen realization of the polymorphous nature of not only words a nd linguistic structures but, by extension, also of the female (and male) subject as so cially constructed. W oolf wrote frequently about not wanting to be or feel “this” or “that.” She despised either/or definitions and syntax and preachiness that aimed to impose a restrictive set of standards on anyone. At times this resistance was a life or death matter to her. In a number of episodes in her life, for example, she perched on the precipice of “normal” versus “mad” and was keenly aware that the difference often depended upon perception by othe rs who crafted the outlines of these categorical terms (a situation famously satirized in Mrs. Dalloway )—in particular, her doctors, such as Sir George Savage and Dr. T. B. Hyslop. Hyslop, for example, has been quoted as stating that the new breed of women was draining ancient energies, that women who did mental wo rk such as writing would produce unhealthy children and that a mad woman who had children would undermine the Empire by tainting the purity of English blood (qtd. in Poole 122-23).


33 Woolf also lived on the cusp of cha nge in terms of dwindling religious belief, surprising new findings in psychology by Fr eud and others, star tling discoveries and theories of evolution by Darwin, the shock of World War I and its effect on the class system in Britain and elsewhere. Negotiati ng terms between the comfort of the older Victorian world and the excite ment, yet discomfort, of the new seems to have produced a deep sensation of unsettling change: a swirling cosmos of the rich and strange. How could an intelligent woman (or man) then be just “this” or “that” in such a place? Woolf’s great sensitivity to fine distinct ions in terms and to the elasticity of language is evident in her essay-letter entitled “Mi ddlebrow”; here she essentiall y deconstructs the term to locate her own evanescent position in the c ontext of debates in 1930s Britain about the changing nature of the reading public in relation to cla ss and culture. In Virginia Woolf, the Intellectual and the Public Sphere (2003), Melba Cuddy-Keane analyzes this essay in detail and presents the fascin ating context of British disc ussion of the categories of “highbrow” and “lowbrow” during this pe riod, pointing out ways in which Woolf subverts binaries in disc ourse on this topic. Surely Woolf suffered, as many authors have, from what Harold Bloom has identified as the “anxiety of influence.” She was guided in her education in the literature of famous men by her father, Sir Leslie Stephen, an impor tant late-Victorian man of letters. Steeped in the classics, Woolf worried about measuri ng up, and she also quickly realized that she had relatively few female literary predece ssors. In an article entitled “A Map for Rereading; or, Gender and the Interpretation of L iterary Texts,” Annette Kolodny cites Bloom’s contention in Kabbalah and Criticism that reading a text is always of necessity the reading of an entire syst em of texts and that mean ing “wanders around between


34 texts.” Though admitting the usefulness of this observation, Kolodny discusses the limitations of Bloom’s view, noting that interp retive strategies of reading are learned, historically-determined, and (as a result) gende r-inflected. Essential to Bloom’s paradigm of both reading and literary influence is th e sense of a shared, cohesive, and canonical literary tradition. Kolodny also discusses Wool f’s awareness of the effect of a lack of tradition upon the mind of a writer, which comm unicates itself to and may respond to her readers’ sense of being excl uded from highbrow culture in A Room of One’s Own. Perhaps Woolf’s common reader educated he r as well, as she played to the common reader’s likely desire for a more egalitarian society. Was Woolf pulled toward a different attitude toward cl ass issues partly because she choose the novel (or “new”) form in which to experi ment with different ways of seeing and writing? In “The Niece of an Earl,” W oolf wrote about the techniques of literature of the past, which often relied upon the reader’s quick recognition of a character’s class by means of detailed, realistic de scription of dress, mannerism s, the character’s home, and so on. Woolf was after something more: the gaps not addressed in much previous fiction, particularly the gaps where women should have been glimpsed These gaps included insight into “moments of being,” to use Woolf’s famous phrasing, which stood out from the “cotton wool” of daily life. Toward this end, some of he r more experimental fiction-such as The Waves and Jacob’s Room (1922)--demonstrates the defamiliarization technique of the Russian formalists in which readers are forced to look anew at familiar things presented in unfamiliar ways. Eventually Woolf seems to have been pulled more and more toward presenting a new and unfamiliar view of classlessness to her readers— particularly in The Waves where she presents only voices, which represent general


35 characteristics of the human species (though class issues are evident here as well). However, the tug of self-ident ification by means of social st rata never entirely lost its grip upon Woolf. Annette Kolodny discusses several Am erican women writers of the period (Kate Chopin and Charlotte Perkins Gilman) in her aforementioned work and suggests that the reason for their initially cool reception was that their writing was foreign in terms of accepted norms and expectations. Woolf ofte n faced similar problems with critical reception, especially after publication of more experimental works, such as Jacob’s Room, The Waves and Three Guineas. She was forging a new tradition that at times radically challenged the old. Not everyone was pleased. Her friend, E.M. Forster, for instance, was unhappy with the “cantankerousness” of Three Guineas. Woolf was perceived more negatively by friends, famil y, and literary critics when she employed feminist arguments (i.e. when she changed her language regarding class) in a more assertive manner than was deemed suitable fo r a woman of her cla ss and stature. As a mature writer, she was, after all, providi ng a massive critique of not only war-mongering, but the entire patriarchal structure upon wh ich militarism and patriotism depend. She was able only gradually to reveal her true colors as her re putation and public ation credits grew. Scholarship by critics such as Naom i Black and Merry Pawlowski has developed a much more detailed picture of the extent of Woolf’s c oncern with social criticism— particularly that connected with pa triarchy and war. Black’s recent book, Virginia Woolf as Feminist (2004), claims Woolf’s Three Guineas as a major feminist document which argues that women’s experience—particularly in the women’s movement—can be the


36 foundation for transformative change in soci ety. Black also traces the development of Woolf’s book from a 1931 lecture and the mann er in which illustra tions and the very form of the book represent a feminist subvers ion of models of ma le scholarship. Merry Pawlowski’s Virginia Woolf and Fascism (2004) lauds Woolf’s anti-fascist vision, particularly in Three Guineas Pawlowski emphasizes Woolf’s engagement with the world outside the artist’s narrow room. She also observes that in Three Guineas Woolf anticipates contemporary studies on the fascis t unconscious, studies which reveal that fascism is based upon an archetype of the ma le soldier characteri zed by hostility toward and fear of women. Thus fascism can be view ed as inherently opposed to women as the ultimate enemy. As Deleuze and Guattari have pointed out, fascism dwells in the unconscious, too, and the unconscious itself functi ons as a political force (qtd. in Sarup 93). WOOLF’S SOCIAL CLASS & DEVELO PMENT OF CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS Woolf inherited substantial connections wi th the literary meritocracy, if not the actual landed British aristocracy. Leslie Stephen was a prominent late-Victorian man of letters, editor of the massive Dictionary of National Biography and author of numerous critical essays and books. He is said to be “one of th e first Englishmen to ar gue that the character and demands of the reading public influen ced literary expression” (Annan 317). He studied divinity in his early years and was ordained in 1859, later abandoning his faith to write books and essays on agnosticism and on English literary hist ory. Julia Stephen was a beauty photographed by Julia Margaret Cameron and others, a woman engaged in practical philanthropy, and the mother of eight children (three by Herbert Duckworth, her


37 first husband, and four by Leslie Stephen—as well as stepmother to Laura, Leslie’s mentally handicapped child by Minny Thackeray). Julia herself wrote stories and essays in a minor vein, most of them unpublished. Such was the literary and philosophical cradle into which Virginia was born. Hyde Park Gate, the Stephen home, became the uppermiddle-class social womb for Virginia Wool f’s “impossible dialec tic” of modernism. Woolf describes herself in A Sketch of the Past as born not rich but well-to-do; in works such as Three Guineas she characterizes herself as an “outsider” who does not even owe allegiance to her country. She e ngaged in women’s suffrage activities and promoted public awareness of the lives of wo men and their struggles. She railed against the patriarchal underpinnings of war in Three Guineas and in The Years (1937), yet she complained about being forced to share a th ird class railway carri age with lower-class undesirables. She declared in her “Middlebrow” essay that she certainly was neither a highbrow nor a middlebrow but an admirer of the lowbrow as a source of great vitality, yet she wrote novels where the essential web of servants s upporting her lifestyle as a writer remains a shadowy structure primar ily relegated to minor characters and occasional references. As indicated earlier, during her lif etime Woolf experienced the upheaval of British class structure which resulted from forces such as Marxism and the cataclysm of the Great War, a war in which even members of the aristocracy lost their fine young men. She also wrote under the grow ing influence of the eugenics movement, of Charles Darwin and his theories of evolution, of Sigmund Freud (publis hed by the Woolfs’own Hogarth Press) and his new emphasis on the Unconscious, and under the influence of the


38 Women’s Suffrage Movement. Marx, Hege l, Darwin, and Freud challenged the individual’s very perception of the self—which was inevitably class-bound. George Orwell makes the class-self bond abundantly clear in The Road to Wigan Pier where he discusses in detail the unrealistic attitude most people hold towards the class question: The fact that has got to be faced is that to abolish class-distinctions means abolishing a part of yourself. Here am I, a typical member of the middle class. It is easy for me to say that I want to get rid of cl ass-distinctions. All my notions—notions of good and evil, of pleasant and unpleasant, of funny and serious, of ugly and beautiful—are essentially middle-class notions; my taste in books and food a nd clothes, my sense of honour, my table manners, my turns of speech, my accent, even the characteristic movements of my body, are the products of a special kind of upbringing, and a special niche a bout half-way up the social hierarchy. [. .] For to get outside the class-racket I have got to suppress not merely my private snobbishness, but most of my ot her tastes and prej udices as well. I have got to alter myself so completely that at the end I should hardly be recognizable as the same person. What is involved is not merely the amelioration of working-class conditi ons, nor an avoidance of the more stupid forms of snobbery, but a comp lete abandonment of the upper-class and middle-class attitude to life. (193-94)


39 I believe that Woolf began to recognize th e complicated relation of identity to class positionality very early in life. She may have been particularly sensitive to this component of her identity because of her difficulties with psychic boundaries and with mental illness. Her sense of diffuse psychic boundaries, well-explained in Thomas Carramagno’s The Flight of the Mind (1992), may have caused her to cling periodically to class distinctions simply in order to ma intain a coherent sense of self; on the other hand, that very sensitivity made her more k eenly aware of the pr ocess by which class position forms everyone’s world view—in th e radical sense of providing essential paradigms for living in the real world—and cer tainly strengthened the perceptiveness of her class critique. Orwell declares in The Road to Wigan Pier that “I am a degenerate modern semi-intellectual who would die if I did not get my early morning cup of tea and my New Statesman every Friday” (242). Similarly, Virginia Woolf was honest enough to admit the middle-class pleasures she enjoye d and the difficulty of doing without them; such admission does not detract from her attempts to use her pen to promote better conditions for women as a clas s--though Woolf was also consci ous of class distinctions and problems in conceptualizing women as a class. Relatives became concerned about the relative shabbiness of the housing and environs of the bohemian Bloombury area where Virg inia, Vanessa, and Adrian moved after the death of their parents, but clearly Virginia her siblings, and their friends were more concerned with questioning social mores and ta boos than with social appearances. Lytton Strachey, for example, is famously said to have inquired whether or not a spot on Vanessa’s dress was semen at one of their ga therings—a shocking matter of which to talk in public for this time period (Woolf, V. in MOB 195-96). Of cour se, Virginia Stephen


40 also broke with class tradition in marrying a Jew, Leonard Woolf—a gesture treated as a bombshell bit of news in notes to her old friends.6 In fact, Nigel Nicolson emphasizes that Virginia inherited somewhat of an anti-S emitic prejudice from her father (evident in her letters) but eventually boasts of Leona rd’s Jewishness. Nicolson agrees with Hermione Lee that anti-Semitism in upper-class England was still prevalent well into the period between the wars and that Virginia Wool f depicts this social attitude in her novel, The Years (49-50) He also quotes Virginia’s 1930 lett er to Ethel Smyth: “‘How I hated marrying a Jew—how I hated their nasal voices and their oriental jewellery, and their noses, and their wattles—what a snob I was, for they have immense vitality’” (49). Comments such as these are troublesome, yet here at least Woolf engages (in a private letter) in truthful recognition and admission of her bias—also id entified as a prior one of which she is not proud. David Bradshaw and seve ral other critics have recently attempted to rectify an unfair broad char acterization of Woolf by some as a snobbish racist. She did make derogatory remarks, such as the one a bove, but she did so in the climate of 1930s Britain where anti-Semitism could almost be characterized as “politically correct.” Without condoning the harmful effects of such be havior or refusing to link it to the horror of the Holocaust, we must stil l distinguish between the casual and the causal, especially because Woolf sometimes engaged in negative remarks for the sake of a witticism. She hardly stands alone in this regard. We woul d do well to remember another relevant fact: she married a Jewish man with whom she a ppears to have had a loving and long-term, stable relationship. Furthermore, she changed in her anti-Semitic views as she matured, taking enormous care to provide a detailed cr itique of Britain’s tr eatment of Jews in works such as The Years


41 CLASS AND WOOLF’S SATIRIC VISION Woolf began employing her seemingly natural satiric vision while living at Hyde Gate Park as a child, where she wrote for The Hyde Park Gate News a production of the Stephen family. “A Cockney’s Farmi ng Adventure,” a story written at age ten, illustrates a rather intriguing nexus of gender and class—one which shall be examined in detail later. Her efforts at publication of he r writing, which could be viewed partly as a vehicle for creating and solidif ying--yet also inte rrogating--her class status, continued throughout her life. The operation of the Hogart h Press itself, a press founded by Virginia and Leonard Woolf after they were married, su rely also could be characterized as an example of class-related power over logos, the word of the Father—an ironic and fitting power for the daughter of the editor of the Dictionary of National Biography. Woolf’s satiric vision is both “organ ic”-a “natural” outgrowth of her particular personality/family/position in society--and strategic, for her sharp pen often seems wielded for ideological purposes of hiding or revealing, or as a survival tactic (e.g. to avoid being immediately pilloried upon publication of Three Guineas and The Years). She is frequently tart-tongued in diaries, letters, and conversations, as though she were attempting to show off her intellect and per ceptiveness in such a way as to camouflage her own inadequacies and gain acceptance as a member of the Bloomsbury literati or the general “class” of literary writers and thinkers. The technique seems protective and pervasive. This veil of satire could well be related to her ear ly sexual trauma, a situation examined in detail by Louise DeSalvo in Virginia Woolf: The Impact of Childhood


42 Sexual Abuse on Her Life and Work (1989)--as well as by othe rs. At times, the veil functions as an essential tactic to avoi d the embarrassment of expressing too much emotion. It is also connected to her even tual stance on war and what she viewed as “unconscious Hitlerism” in her own country’s familial and national and international affairs. She feared being laughed at by her own social class-particularly by specific literary colleagues, family, and friends -for expressing str ong views. These she expressed forcibly but satirically in Three Guineas for example; one might also note the substantial changes she made in her nascen t writing career, such as the differences between early drafts of The Voyage Out and its final version. She generally feared not being taken seriously, though her confidence increased as her literary reputation flourished. On many other occasions, she found class distinctions an immensely fertile soil for satire and late in life both welc omed and lamented the eroding of class distinctions after the war, part ly because these very distinc tions had afforded her such a rich lode of character an d circumstance to mine for her writing. Satire exploits contradiction, and ideology covers over cont radiction; Woolf understood this nexus early on. She employed the tool of satire, in both its Horatian and Juvenalian forms, in many of her novels, short stories, and essays. She wielded this tool to interrogate class as a category, the class structures of British so ciety of her period, and her own positionality with regard to class. A BORDER CASE As is well-known, Woolf suffered from r ecurrent bouts of mental illness. Despite the fact that she commented upon the artistic va lue of these periods for her writing, they


43 cannot have been pleasant to endure, and we know that she also felt stigmatized by these episodes. One example is her difficulty with the servants who were present during some of her bouts of madness. She, of course, dr aws famously upon these experiences in her characterization of Septimus in Mrs. Dalloway and also here strongly criticizes some of the standard treatments for and misconceptio ns about mental illness which she herself endured. I suggest that Virginia Woolf saw herself as set apart in this respect, as relegated to the category of the mentally ill, which knows no economic boundaries, with its attendant dangers as well as l iterary advantages. This effort at self-identification is shown as Woolf struggles in depicting figures like Se ptimus, where she clarifies what is really involved in such illness and strongly suggests be tter ways to treat the condition; it is part and parcel of her identity from the early st ages of her first breakdown after the death of her mother. For instance, she describes hersel f as having a desire to laugh and feeling no emotion upon her mother’s death--disturbing signs of depression and disassociation-though she cried later (Lee 130). Irene Coates suggests in Who’s Afraid of Leonard Woolf? that Leonard was also a depressed person who hoped that marriage with Virginia might mask his own problems—which in cluded a physical tic involving nervous, constant shaking of his hand--for she already had a reputation for a combination of genius and madness. Together they would challenge ge nder, ethnic, and class barriers, as well as the barriers of mental illness. Coates asserts that Leonard’s caretaking of Virginia, while it also encouraged her to write and protected her genius, allowed him the control which enabled him to deny his own problems. Woolf found herself “b etwixt and between” with rega rd to many issues involving class and identity. She found herself sous-rature in her own culture simply because of her


44 gender--a situation hardly conducive to ment al health, particularly for a person with literary aspirations in a world controlled by patriarchy. I suggest that she felt early on a keen sense of the need to remain in a dialectic between an autobiographical “I” and a cultural “I” as articulated by Luce Irigaray (Hirsh and Olson 103). The concept of something “other” always appears important to Woolf in constr ucting identity. She especially is both part of he r class and “other” or outside of it—a situation very well expressed in her later work, Three Guineas where she claims that (because of the intricate web of patriarchy, ge nder, and war) women actually possess no country to claim allegiance to, and that in certain ways they constitute a class of their own outside of whatever traditional British class structure th ey may have been born or married into. In Three Guineas “class” refers specifically to inhe ritance, the possibility of property ownership, and educational oppor tunity, but it also refers in a broader sense to the desirability of maintaining out sider status with regard to the entire war machine of British society. It is in this work that Wool f appears most stridently feminist, always wanting to inhabit the Kristevan “impossible dialectic” and always wanting to consider alternatives. Woolf displays a sense of diffuse and shifting boundaries, blending at times rather closely with Vanessa, her adored older sister. Her incorporat ion of the genre of painting into her writing--along with he r interest in Post-Impressioni sm, with its own techniques of depicting permeable, shifting boundaries --is undoubtedly influenced by Vanessa’s profession. Such blending can be seen in her short stories, such as “Blue and Green,” “Monday or Tuesday,” and “Kew Gardens,” as well as in portions of her novels. Woolf’s close relationships with other women, such as Violet Dickinson in her early life, also


45 point to a sense of diffuse boundaries and a profound need to find a substitute for her mother, Julia, who died so early in Woolf’s life. This sense of di ffuse boundaries seems to have caused Woolf periodically to cling to class distinctio ns in Orwell’s sense of a pervasive envelope surrounding one’s life. Sin ce these class markers served to define the very structure of her ego, they were not easy to discard or even to bring to full consciousness. Vita Sackville-West, with whom Woolf had a brief affa ir and lengthier friendship, is an important connection of Woolf’s w ith the upper class. Woolf’s novel, Orlando of course, is a tribute to Vita and a protest agai nst Vita’s inability to inherit Knole simply because of discrimination against her female gender in British law. Ethel Smyth, the radical and outgoing composer w ho befriended Woolf in later years, is one of Woolf’s connections to the working classes. It was Smyth who pushed Woolf toward the confidence she needed in order to speak out so strongly against the nexus between patriarchy, class and war reflected Three Guineas I believe Vita Sackville-West influenced Virginia Woolf toward the aesthet ic and Ethel Smyth influenced her toward the political; both close friends influenced he r experience as a “boundary rider” in her thinking about class. Woolf did not subscribe to any formal and unitary religious view. Leslie Stephen was trained as a minister but became an agnostic and remained one for th e rest of his life, undoubtedly transmitting some of his aver sion to orthodoxy to his daughter. Though Woolf felt consistently that li fe flashed glimpses of “something more,” she existed in only a quasi-religious borderland. Agnosticism, in fact, constitutes an ultimate borderland. I argue, however, that later she, along with other memb ers of the Bloombury


46 group and practitioners of mode rnism as a philosophical stance developed a belief in the efficacy of art to substitute for the consolat ion of traditional religion. In doing so, she and others questioned a linchpin in traditional Bri tish class structure, for it indeed rested upon God and country. The portra it of the minister in Between the Acts reveals just how much Woolf still feels committed to skewering fi gures of religious hypocrisy who invoke themselves and their God as suppor t structures for “civilization.” Language itself was also increasingly be ing interrogated as an unstable entity as the twentieth century wore on. If Woolf felt that neither her ve ry self, nor the language she used, was unitary, how could her conception of class be unified? Class structures are inevitably enmeshed in language. One wide ly known and striking twentieth century example is the transformation of a cockney “ guttersnipe” into a la dy in George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion a transformation achieved larg ely by altering her language. A keen sense of gender discriminati on was the key which le d Virginia Woolf to question class structures from an early ag e. Leslie Stephen’s moaning and excessive demands upon Stella, Vanessa and Virginia afte r Julia’s death were an early trigger for understanding the damaging effects of patriarchy and its connec tion to social class. Early novels, such as The Voyage Out and Night and Day definitely reflect great concern with such matters. A Room of One’s Own is also an example of Woolf’s growing realization that gender, language, class a nd patriarchy are all one interc onnected web. She exhibits concern in the latter work for the need for a “woman’s sentence,” for example. She insists also upon the economic base essential for a woman writer: 300 pounds a year and a room of one’s own. Unless one receives sufficient inheritance, one needs to engage in a remunerative profession. What professions are open to women, particularly the


47 uneducated daughters of educated men? The pos sibility of earning a living of one’s own, resulting in economic independence, and thus the ability to think a nd speak with greater freedom than those completely dependent on othe rs, was important to Woolf; for her, this possibility was closely connected to the oppor tunity for an education. She resented her parents for providing a university education for her brothers, but not for her. Such gender discrimination was, of course, typical in he r lifetime. Woolf’s unders tanding of class was strongly affected by this expe rience. As she points out in Three Guineas the uneducated daughters of educated men are possibly wors e off than the daughters of lower-class men. Woolf seems to view herself and other women in the former group as part of a sub-class, particularly because of the resulting econom ic and emotional dependence upon fathers or brothers. Naomi Black, one of the few recent scholars who comments upon this particular understanding of class in Virginia Woolf as Feminist observes that socialist feminists are bothered by Woolf’s unconventional interpretation of class itself as linked closely to education and also subsequen tly to professional occupati on. Furthermore, Black notes that Woolf’s “Introductory Letter” to Life as We Have Known It emphasizes even more clearly that she strongly believed cla ss should be defined more by educational possibilities than by material possessions (187-88). Woolf’s class consciousness eventually evolved to the point where she became convinced that the interconnected web was dependent upon an ideology which c overed over differences and one which desperately needed to be revealed, which she does with relish in the satiric volleys launched in Three Guineas Class structures are also forcefully questioned in Jacob’s Room, an experimental novel which broke with the tradit ions of her literary ancestors. Her interrogation and


48 satire of class in The Years (1937) is more subdued but pe rvasive and forceful in a different way. Several of her short stories--s uch as “Moments of Being: Slater’s Pins Have No Points” (1928) and “Lappin and Lapinova,” ( published in 1939 but written around 1919)--and her speeches and essays, also reflect upon class issues. Consider “Am I a Snob?,”her paper read to the Memoir Cl ub in 1936, as another in stance of her fearless interrogation of an uncomfortable issue (she decides she is not). Her examination of class issues in her radical novel, The Waves also provides an example of her “boundary riding” with respect to genr e, for the novel reads more like a prose poem and suggests Eastern influences. Patrick McGee has writt en persuasively about class in this novel, suggesting that Woolf is “framed by the text she frames” and saluting both her recognition of her complicity in maintaining traditional class stru ctures (an example is the realization that the lady writing in the novel is enabled by th e servant sweeping outsi de) and her attempts to break down those barriers. However, t hough often servants in her novels are shadowy figures who hardly seem to have lives of their own, in other novels (such as To the Lighthouse) important servant figures like Mrs. Mc Nab are viewed as figures of strength and vitality essential to a healthy society. Alex Zwer dling discusses Woolf’s many conflicts with Nelly Boxall and Lottie Hope two important servants in her household, and notes that Woolf believed that servant pr oblems were the fault of the class system and not of individual persona lities. Woolf’s mother, Juli a, had no such problems, believing firmly in the hierarchical advantag e one should employ in dealing with live-in servants. Zwerdling believes that Woolf e xperienced middle-class guilt over the very institution of servanthood itself ( Virginia Woolf 98). In The Waves Woolf seems to


49 recognize the important function of servants in providing the foundation of leisure needed for the writing life which she herself led and at this point exhibits a sharper awareness of her own complicity in maintaining class stru ctures, despite her work toward a more egalitarian society. Gilles Deleuze and Flix Guattari, authors of Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1972, trans.1977) speak of the limitati ons of concrete descriptors and clichd categories. They are opposed to genera lizations about class, believing that it is through small-group collective action and through fighting fascism in people’s heads that societies will improve. To Deleuze and Guatta ri, who are anti-Freudia n, the family is the source of hierarchy and taboos. In their view the unconscious produces desire and must be repressed by psychonanalysis, the watchdog of the state. Furthermore, they believe that all humans are fragmented, and they ar e similar to Lacan in emphasizing the notion of a decentered subject. Woolf was similarly concerned with the limitations of binaries and of compartmentalization (though not as anti-Freudian--despite her mocking comments--and appreciative of some of the insi ghts of psychoanalysis). Yet she was also keenly aware of the historical moment in which she lived and of the traditions, particularly literary, upon which she had been nourished (especially by Leslie Stephen, as the family member designated by him to follo w his career path of writer). A quote from her diary of Friday, January 4, 1929, succinctly st ates her “impossible dialectic”: “Now is life very solid or very shifting? I am haunted by the two contradictions” ( A Writer’s Diary ). Virginia Woolf was driven by her na ture and experiences to consider these alternating visions of reality and to situate herself from different perspectives at different moments in her writing. I propose that Woolf, in the context also of theoretical debate


50 during her lifetime upon the question of scie ntific objectivity, developed a writing practice which exhibits, as Holly Henry desc ribes it, the “positive social and political possibilities for partial know ledges which might demystify the hegemonic claims of a scientific or artistic obj ectivity” (unpublished paper, 1998). Henry points out that, through Woolf’s publication in The Athenaeum and her association with Cambridge luminaries, she interacted with Britain’s leading mathematicians and popularizers of science and used some of these ideas in her aesthetic practices to demonstrate perspectives that show the situated nature of every narrator, artist, or observer. We might add the concept of the situated nature of every reader as well. In her essay “The Leaning Tower” (1940) Woolf plays upon this very situatedness or “angle of vision” in discussing the bent of prominent writers from the 30s toward revolutionary writing, pointing out that their vision constitutes a class vision. These are writers who are reacting to their own febr ile upper-class upbringing; they are ultimately ineffective because they do not interrogate th e operation and influence of their own class perspective upon what they write. Always sens itive about her own lack of a university education because of the rest rictions of patriarchy with regard to gender, Woolf understood well that politics of any sort was concerned with issues of power vitally connected with class status. This early de privation provided a site for questioning the unitary nature of class, for was she not relega ted to a lesser status within her social class simply because she was a woma n? Certainly she felt keenly the lack of intellectual stimulation and learning she had missed by be ing schooled almost exclusively at home, and she resented the university education av ailable to her brothe rs, Thoby and Adrian.


51 VIRGINIA AND LEONARD: A SHARED IDEOLOGY? In a study of Leonard and Virginia’s political influence on each other (1983), Selma Meyerowitz asserts that there are many consis tent parallels in their thinking and writing about social and political matte rs. She believes that Virginia would have readily agreed with Leonard’s view (stated in his autobiogr aphy of the years 1939-69) that “one of the greatest of social evils has always been cl ass subjection and class domination” (qtd. in Meyerowitz, “Leonard and Virginia” 4). Th ey both examine the class system and its influence on individual psychology and inte rpersonal relations, national values, and international politics. Virginia also ex amines the manner in which class position influences the writer’s vision of life, as well as the writer’s craft. She is keenly aware that social and economic conditions shape both the artist and his or her art (Meyerowitz, “Leonard and Virginia” 4). In a more recent class-related article (1998), Patricia Laurence discusses the couple’s polemical writing of the thirties (Leonard’s Quack, Quack! [1935] and Virginia’s Three Guineas [1938]) in order to show “how in this marriage of minds, domains of meaning are contingent upon one another” (“A Writing Couple” 125). Laurence asserts that in the thirties Virginia and Leonard share an ideo logy which rejects Nazis and fascists—as well as the British intellectuals and politicians who support them. In addi tion, Laurence asserts that both exhibit a satiric a ngle of vision, as well as a prophe tic tone, and that Virginia Woolf herself engages in more than an atta ck upon patriarchy; she and Leonard adopt a larger, shared stance of concern about fascism, lack of reason in public and private life, and the ability to maintain ci vilized life (126). Laurence de scribes her essay as revealing “the shared ideology of Leonard and Virginia Woolf as a reflection of class, gender and


52 cultural classifications and tran sformations,” particularly with regard to oscillating terms such as “barbarism” and “civiliz ation” (“A Writing Couple” 126-30). Despite the worthiness of Leonard’s writing and working on social and political agendas, Irene Coates suggests a darker pi cture of Leonard, alle ging that he pursued Virginia because of class. He needed a position in society and the money to which Virginia had access (though the amount was not la rge) in order not to have to go back to work in Ceylon; Virginia’s literary connectio ns were also helpful because he wanted to be a novelist (92). Few current Woolf sc holars have been willing to explore the possibility of ascribing darker motives to Leonard, who is generally especially admired for his meticulous caretaking of Virginia during her periods of mental breakdown (though both Coates and Louise DeSa lvo represent this caretaki ng as overly controlling and repressive). What about Virg inia’s darker motives? Did sh e at some level desire the marital union because she knew that her writi ng career as a married woman would be less threatened by a Jewish outsider like Leonard ? Did she also believe that, because of her intermittent mental health problems, she could not maintain an independent life without the social benefit of marriage? Natania Rose nfeld paints a bright er picture of their relationship in Outsiders Together: Virginia and Leonard Woolf (2000), arguing that the outsider connection initiated a useful dialog between the two which ultimately enriched their engagement with larger sociopolitical concerns--though Virginia’s commitment to politics was through an aesthetic practice rather than by means of direct political action. Rosenfeld emphasizes Leonard’s own divided fe eling about his class and ethnic identity as a Jew, alternating between pride in his background and rejection of it, as revealed partly in his attraction for Vi rginia Stephen and Bloomsbury ( Outsiders 3-6). Rosenfeld


53 notes that the two were opposed in ways that complemented each other: Virginia “privileged by her background, but excluded from centers by her gender, he privileged by gender and marginalized through background” ( Outsiders 4). In her 1983 article, Selma Meyerowitz notes that both Leonard and Virginia examine the class issue at a theoretical level, incl uding the influence of economic and societal factors upon individual psychology, interpers onal relations, interna tional politics, and national value standards. Leonard argues that so cietal institutions m odify individual and communal psychology and that changes in comm unal psychology change the structure of society. Virginia identifies the way in which class position affects a writer’s vision of life and his or her writing practice, noting that changes in society mu st result in changes in art (“Leonard and Virginia” 3-4). It is particularly in Woolf’ s “The Leaning Tower” essay that she discusses how the ni neteenth century was characte rized by people being herded into different classes and writers who wrot e only of the class from which they had sprung, though they believed they were looking at the whole of life. She points out that the Great War caused a great change in cla ss structure and predicted that all classes would likely eventually converge into one class. Later I will examine this important essay in more detail. Leonard was impressed with the work of the Women’s Guild in Britain and states in “What is Democracy?” that the emancipation of women could be one of the greatest social revolutions in history (16). In this essay, Leonard not es that the most important changes in a society take place inside peopl e’s heads, in their changing political and social ideas (15-16). One of these important ideas, espoused strongly by Leonard, is the concept of classless politics in a democracy, which values each individual as an equal


54 political unit (27). Leonard worked for ma ny years for the Co-operative Movement and for many other political causes. He and Virg inia also became quite involved in the intense political and social ac tivism of Beatrice and Sidney We bb. In fact, three essays by Beatrice Webb, under the general he ading of “Diseases of Organized Society,” appear in the same volume ( The Modern State ) as Leonard’s essay mentioned above (along with four others by him). In one of Webb’s essa ys, she states that the magic of political democracy for any race is the enlargement of human personality and the loss of any sense of inferiority because of democracy’s be lief in equality between all persons (“Drawbacks”184). Note the emphasis on equality of races here, an emphasis which Virginia Woolf also brings to bear more strongly in Three Guineas as she enlarges her view of the relationship between race and class. Hermoine Lee’s Virginia Woolf (1998) provides further details on connections between the Woolfs and the Webbs. Virginia for a time conducted monthly meetings of the Working Women’s Guild of the Co-operative Movement and also wrote an introduction for a collection of essays by the Guildswomen entitled Life As We Have Known It In this introduction she admits to feeling alienated from the Guildswomen because of class differences, but states her belief that together they are working for vital legal and societal reforms. Leonard in Quack! Quack! and in Barbarians Within and Without reveals his view that man’s acceptance of authoritarian rule in society is like reverting to barbarism. In The Journey Not the Arrival Matters: An Autobiography of the Years 1939 to 1969 Leonard states that “one of the greatest social evils has always been cla ss subjection and class domination” (75). In “Thoughts about Peace during an Air Raid” (1940) Virginia writes about the deleterious effects of a patriarchal class system whic h creates “subconscious Hitlerism” (210). Both


55 Virginia and Leonard eventually fought fasc ism in two areas--the private and the public-for they felt the two were deeply interconnect ed. Others connected in important ways to the Stephen family, such as Margaret Ll ewelyn Davies, also engaged in socialist activities and undoubtedly had their influence upon Virgin ia as well as Leonard. In “What I Believe,” E.M. Forster, who was also Woolf’s good friend, proposes the definition of a different kind of aristocracy, one which I believe also influenced Woolf’s conception of class. He states that he believ es in aristocracy, but with this qualification : Not an aristocracy of power, base d upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the c onsiderate, and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanen t victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. (67) Though Woolf might have snorted at Fors ter’s so-called aristocr acy of the sensitive, she also may well have felt an attraction to the concept of an artistic “class” which transcended the ordinary socio-economic cate gories in the Britain of her time; such a class would not even be limited to ar tists but open to anyone possessing the characteristics of which Forster speaks. Agai n, the “impossible dialectic” of aristocracy coexisting with egalitarian democracy. The at traction to this “ber-class” concept is related, I believe, to concerns of the period wi th the possible disinteg ration of civilization as it had been known, particularly after th e experience of the Great War and in the context of the stirrings of Wo rld War II. Woolf’s brother-in -law, Clive Bell, articulated his views in an essay entitle d “Civilization,” which was gi ven to Virginia Woolf in


56 advance of its publication. I propose that W oolf conceived of prot ecting and advancing the cause of civilization (much as Leonard di d in working endlessly against the barbarism of fascism) partly in terms of privileging an overarching literary/art istic class that would preserve the aesthetic and moral values esse ntial to civilized life. Such a class was somewhat, but not exclusively, linked to enough economic privilege to afford the leisure necessary to reflect and to crea te out of the best part of hum an nature. Thus, for Woolf to become a writer was to become a high priestess of sorts for this elite class, which nonetheless would strive to bett er the lot of the lower clas ses. This elite group was not linked in any way to orthodoxy, but rather va lued (ironically) the challenging of the status quo; in particular, this “class” a dvocated personal libert y, independent thought, close personal relationships, and the pluckiness of which Forster speaks. These were qualities nurtured by the loos ely-allied Bloomsbury group to which Virginia Woolf, her sister Vanessa, and their friends be longed. The Bloomsbury group disdained the formality, social hypocrisy, and focus upon material wealth that were part of the striving, upper middle class into which most of them had been born. A recent speech by Virginia Nicholson, th e great-niece of Virginia Woolf, at the Hay Festival in Britain (2004) comments effusive ly upon the aims of the Bloomsbury group to reject the corset of st ratified British society, to focus upon the flowering of the individual without the rigid rules of cla ss, to choose partners freely, to go hatless! Mrs. Nicholson, who has also recently written Among the Bohemians a book on Bloomsbury and Bohemianism, on this occasion stated quite pointedly that “ ‘We’re all Bohemians now’” (qtd. in Ezard). In other words, Woolf and her Bloo msbury associates profoundly influenced the breakdown of stultifying class divisions in Britain and elsewhere.


57 Woolf was trained to become a member of this literary/artistic level of society by her own father, for whom she felt deeply conflic ting emotions. Katherine C. Hill and others have documented well the influence of Les lie upon Virginia. Hill notes that Leslie tyrannized Virginia, Vanessa, and Stella, dr iving Woolf to exclaim in her diary many years later that if her father had lived longe r, “‘his life would have entirely ended mine. What would have happened? No writi ng, no books;--inconceivable’” (qtd. in Hill 351).7 Yet, Virginia Woolf also wrote that she felt “‘soothe d, stimulated, full of love for this unworldly, very distinguis hed, lonely man’” (qtd. in Hill 351)8 and she recognized that her father wanted her to write and perhaps to become his literary successor. He provided a solid foundation fo r her career by tutoring her himself in English literature, history, and biography. She wa s his favorite child, as is evident in his letters to Julia, and she favored him in both appearance and temperament. Virginia in fact herself stated to Vanessa that overall she pref erred her father to her mother as a parent (Hill 351-52).9 Leslie Stephen also shaped Virginia Woolf’s theories about the development of literary genres and her perspectives on literary criticism. Katherine C. Hill analyzes this influence (one acknowledged by Woolf herself) in considerable detail and connects this analysis to Woolf’s theory of class. She not es that the common assumptions of father and daughter are distilled in Leslie Stephen’s “The Study of English Literature” and in Virginia Woolf’s “How Should On e Read a Book?” (Hill 354-55). Yet their strongest similarity is perh aps their theory of how literary genres develop and evolve: both believe that shifting cla ss structures result in a dominant, unique


58 historical consciousness that ex presses itself in an appropriate technical form. Thus critics of necessity should be sympathetic toward experimental literature. Leslie Stephen became a firm Darwinian and also embraced the idea that human society was evolving towards moral, as well as physical, perfection. In English Literature and Society in the Eighteenth Century Stephen identifies the rising mi ddle class as the most morally vigorous and declares that it needs a distinctive genre to articulate its world vision: a democratic one, using the plain vernacular. Stephen was the first English critic to emphasize the sociological study of literature (as influenced by Hippolyte Taine); he is the only late-Victorian critic who explains the manner in which shifting social classes, evolving forward, are agents of genre devel opment. Though there are some differences (Woolf, for example, does not view the most vi gorous social class as necessarily also the most fully developed in morals), Hill claims that the complete corpus of Woolf’s critical works promotes the same values (355-57). WOOLF AS SOCIAL CRITIC IN HER ESSAYS AND FICTION In “The Niece of an Earl,” Woolf e xplains the manner in which social class has always been a foundation for the novel. Class distinctions, she says, are an important background of the novel for the reader and sh ape its plot. When Meredith describes someone as “the niece of an earl,” she says, his audience understands not only her social type but also the manner in which she will r eact to other characters. In examining this essay, Hill notes how class-bound this vision of the middle class is and points to Woolf’s argument that the novel may change or even va nish as class distinctions disappear (357). How can one argue that Woolf is simply self-indulgently abso rbed in the advantages of


59 her class position when she takes such care to reflect upon and engage in not only written but verbal discussions of class issues? Hill be lieves that Woolf later identifies those rising classes (particularly working women as a social subclass) that will radically change the twentieth century in “The Leaning Tower” and in “Memories of a Working Women’s Guild”: And nothing perhaps exasperated us mo re at the Congress . than the thought that this force of theirs, th is smouldering heat which broke the crust now and then and licked the surface with a hot and fearless flame, is about to break through and melt us togeth er so that life will be richer and books more complex, and society will pool its possessions instead of segregating them . but only when we are dead. (“Memories of a Working Women’s Guild” qtd. in Hill 358) Hill fittingly observes that Woolf here rescues the obscure, just as her father had, to some degree, in the Dictionary of National Biography and as she also does in her 1929 essay, “Women in Fiction” (Hill 367, footnote 12). Woolf’s classless societ y, predicted in “The Leaning Tower,” an essay also discussed by Hill, is one which may require a genre other than the novel: There will be no more upper classes; middle classes; lower classes. All classes will be merged in one class. How will that change affect the writer who sits at his desk looking at human life? It will not be divided by hedges any more. Very likely, that will be the end of the novel as we know it. ( Collected Essays II, 179)


60 In this essay, Woolf criticizes wealthy young men with expensive educations who have been raised upon the tower of their middle-class birth and w ho have controlled literary production. Woolf claims that th e tower of this privileged class (here she actually names members of this group, such as T.S. Eliot, Lytton Strachey, E.M. Forster, and Aldous Huxley) is leaning because the vision of this social class no longer matches the consciousness of the twentieth century. She suggests that workers will come to prominence as the old class system fades awa y. The new world will be a democratic and inclusive one. Woolf’s use of the masculine in reference to the writer in the passage quoted above may reflect more than the co mmon linguistic practice of her time; her choice may also reflect her sense that the rising class of women—be they working class or eventually all merged into one class—will be the ones to celebrate and to mow down the hedges separating them from the privileged classes as the writer sits at “his” desk. Hill observes that, in “The Narrow Bri dge of Art” (1927), Woolf declares that prose— though prose with a new poetic intensity—must be the medium for a new genre: “Therefore it [the new genre] will clasp to its breast the precious prerogatives of the democratic art of prose; its freedom; its f earlessness; its flexibility. For prose is so humble that it can go anywhere” ( Collected Essays II qtd. in Hill 359). Woolf thus could state in a letter to Hugh Walpole that the books she wrote were not novels and that she was very, very uncomfortable with conventi onal terminology for genres, calling some of her forms “play poems” or “essay-novels” (q td. in Hill 359). Once again, Woolf inhabits an in-between space. In an early discussion of Woolf and class (1977), Alex Zwer dling opens his article with Woolf’s statement of intention in writing Mrs. Dalloway : “I want to criticize the


61 social system, and to show it at work, at its most intense” (“ Mrs. Dalloway and the Social System” 69).10 In Zwerdling’s view, Woolf is focu sed as intently upon society as upon individual consciousness. All of her novels ar e based in realistic settings and most of them in exact historical time periods. She is deeply concerned with how individuals are formed or deformed by historical forces, class, sex, and economi c status. Zwerdling observes that Woolf was not us ually recognized as a social critic because of her deep aversion to propaganda in art. She expresses so cial criticism indirectly in the language of observation rather than with di rect commentary. She also ofte n regularly satirizes social reformers. Her models are social observers such as Chaucer and Chekhov; she believes that her role is to observe, de scribe, and provide material for the reader to put together in judging social issues (69). In Mrs. Dalloway she attacks the rigidity and moral obtuseness of a ruling class that worships tradition and cannot accommodate change. She also exposes a tradition of so cial service that masks the need to dominate. Zwerdling notes that, during the compositi on of this novel, Woolf writes in essays and in her diary about realizing that her class is olation has a negative effect on her work, yet also that she feels a contradictory sense of being an outsi der in relation to the fashionable upper class (72-74). Furthermore, Woolf sometimes moves from traditional social satire to what she calls “The Russian Point of View,” a phrase sh e uses as the title of her essay published in The Common Reader in 1925--the latter vol ume title also reveali ng her emerging views on class. Here she points out that Dostoevsky reveals indifference to social identity and class barriers. In Mrs. Dalloway Clarissa adopts this position when she crosses class lines in her imagination and senses a st rong kinship with Septimus (81).


62 Woolf’s increasing concern with the common reader and with creating simply voices in The Waves instead of characters with obvious cl ass attributes, is another example of her attempt to move beyond the trad itional English cl ass system. In Virginia Woolf: A Writer’s Life (1984), Lyndall Gordon states her belief that in The Waves Woolf fuses the six voices or characters as “one ideal hu man specimen,” providing an even number of men and women separated from social context-such as detail regarding family, formal education, occupation, status, and class (221-22 ). I argue that Woolf eventually smashes not only class barriers in her own mind and milieu (though simultaneously acknowledging the effects of their in eradicable residue in the best sous-rature tradition of Jacques Derrida), but most importantly in the very definition of the term “class” itself, forcing us to acknowledge that words are alwa ys at least partially inadequate and illfitting when we employ them to colonize (as we must) the vast mystery of life itself. To Woolf, “class” is a gender-i nflected term deeply connect ed to a person’s psychological and social development, to literature, to the developing common reader, and to concerns about maintaining civilization itself. She dec onstructs in order to re-invent. The wave which breaks upon the shore is similar to those before it, but also always new, flinging fresh diffractions upon innume rable grains of sand.


63 CHAPTER TWO “Perhaps I shall put my case more cogently, human nature being what it is, if I state that I have exchanged a husband and a family and a house in which I may grow old for certain fragments of yellow parchment; which only a few people can read and still fewer would care to read if they could.” —Miss Rosamond Merridew in Virginia Woolf’s “[The Journal of Mistress Joan Martyn],” written in 1906. “CIVILIZATION,” FEMA LE SUBJECTIVITY, AND A PSYCHOLOGY OF CLASS IN WOOLF’S EARLY LIFE AND WORK Curiously, two childhood pieces of Woolf’ s are laced with precocious interest not only in class structures, but in the enmeshing of gender roles within th ese structures. I will examine these and a number of other relatively neglected short stories and sketches in order to contrast her early vi ews on class with later, more nuanced treatments. I want to demonstrate that Woolf’s early writing reve als an understanding of the manner in which women, in the very psychology of their femi ninity, bear witness— as Juliet Mitchell describes it--to a patriarchal definition of human society. I also want to show how Woolf’s knowledge of Clive Bell’s Civilization may have influenced her early work. Further, I will illustrate how Woolf examin es marriage in relation to patriarchy and empire in her sketches on Carlyle’s House, while simultaneously betraying questionable attitudes toward race. In her introduction to Woolf’s A Cockney’s Farming Experiences (and its incomplete sequel, The Experiences of a Pater-familias) Suzanne Henig notes that in these childhood stories (1892) Woolf presents a comp lete reversal of what is generally represented as her parents’ typical Victorian marriage: a domineering father and submissive mother. These stories depict a stereotypic shrew and a docile husband, a role reversal which Henig claims occurs nowhere else in Woolf’s ficti on. They also depict


64 overt expressions of affection between ma les and females only among members of the servant class (11). The fact that the y oung couple must deal with various economic difficulties probably does reflect Woolf’s ow n experience in growing up. Henig asks, “[how] could the child who interested hers elf in the honeymoon of a servant or the milking of a cow or who manifested such te nderness to Lick, the dog, have matured into the woman who was concerned only with he r own class?” (13). Though I do not believe that readers should attach huge significance to Woolf’s class analys is developed at age ten, it is useful nonetheless to examine these early pieces for what they reveal of Woolf’s psychological identity and the family probl ems that resurface throughout her life. Woolf scholar Louise DeSalvo in Virginia Woolf: The Im pact of Childhood Sexual Abuse upon Her Life and Work (1989) argues that these st ories offer an impressive analysis of class issues and suggests that they reveal much about Woolf’s early family situation, including a su btext of sexual assault. DeSal vo argues that the young Virginia embedded her own story of sexual abuse at age six by her half-brother, George Duckworth, within a larger story of marital conflict, paternal abuse, and abandonment. Woolf also wrote the story at the exact age wh en she claims that she first became really conscious of herself and started disliking he rself. To DeSalvo, the second story unmasks not only a disturbingly cruel pa terfamilias, but an inconsiste nt mother who is unable to protect the small child from a household full of violent men. She also believes that the story reveals the young Woolf’s fear s of being treated like her ha lf-sister, Laura (139-47). Eventually sent away to be cared for apart from the family, Laura was the daughter of Leslie Stephen by his first wife, Minny Thack eray. She represents an intriguing absence in Woolf’s writing, for Woolf maintains an almost absolute silence rega rding her, even in


65 her own extensive diary. In a broad sense Laur a could be seen as W oolf’s first (and likely fearful) experience of a subclass or category within her own upper-middle-class family, for Laura was both female and possibly mentally ill, as well as mentally retarded and difficult to manage. She was obviously “less than” other family members, especially because she seemed relatively uneducable a condition Hermoine Lee points out was abhorrent to Leslie (100). Laura seems eventua lly to have been rele gated to the category of the “abnormal”: the mentally retarded / mentally ill / physically deformed. Discrimination against these persons may have been en couraged by the eugenics movement that flourished in Woolf’s lifetime. Lee believes that Laura matters to Woolf scholars as the abnormal daughter who was sent away; how read ers interpret her treatment by the Stephen family affects their reading of Virginia’s mental illness and treatment. Some readers link the mad little girl in the at tic with the brilliant, though suicidal, Virginia as victims of th e oppression of patriarchy (Lee 101-02). Woolf chronicles her own bouts with me ntal illness in her diaries and depicts the mentally-ill character of Septimus most empathetically in her novel, Mrs. Dalloway (1925). Here she certainly discusses treatment of the mentally ill as a sub-category of human beings and heavily critiques their dem eaning treatment, both by society in general and by their specific medical care providers. Later I will discuss this novel and the character of Septimus with regard to class i ssues in Woolf. At th is juncture, however, I want to highlight a notorious comment of W oolf’s after coming into contact with a group of mentally retarded childr en, a statement found in her Diary (9 Jan 1915): “They should certainly be killed.” This remark has been misconstrued as viciously elitist and possibly classist. Interestingly, this comment has been the topic of very recent discussion (summer


66 2005) among top Woolf scholars on the Virg inia Woolf list-serv operated by the International Virginia Woolf Society. The di scussion itself provides a snapshot of the intricacies of unraveling WoolfÂ’s attitude to ward mental illness and class-related issues. WoolfÂ’s shocking remark is her appa rent reaction to catching sight of a group of mentally-retarded people. Hermoine Lee says that the comment seems to endorse the language of the eugenics movement that was active in WoolfÂ’s lifetime. Various scholars on the list-serv have weighed in on possible inte rpretations. Stuart Clarke says the date of this remark is significant because Woolf at this time was between severe mental breakdowns and either may not have been fully sane at the time or may have feared imminent descent into insa nity (13 July 2005). Melba C uddy-Keane argues that Woolf, with her sense of shame about her own body a nd periodic fear that people were laughing at her behind her back, may have reiterated th e severe agenda of the eugenicists but, in doing so, might be turning thes e very views (They should be killed and so should I )upon herself (14 Jul 2005). Susan Crawford believes that Woolf likely felt fear about her own fate, as someone with recurrent mental illness, at the hands of the eugenicists. Eugenics was extensively promulgated in WoolfÂ’s lifetim e. Crawford notes that a disturbing film of adults with Downs Syndrome was shot in the 1930s for HitlerÂ’s propaganda machine and distributed widely throughout Europe. She also cites WoolfÂ’s family connection with Laura as possible explanation for the shocki ng remark (15 Jul 2005). Cheryl Hindrichs presents an excellent explanation of what I believe is an underestimated strategy in WoolfÂ’s diaries: that of writing down some attitude or thought that she suddenly recognizes in herself and regards as unaccepta ble and then unflinchingly examining the distasteful impulse as something to change and grow from. Hindrichs cites WoolfÂ’s


67 recognition of her own snobbery and her at titude toward male homosexuality as examples. Hindrichs uses a powerful analogous example of a documentary on director George Stevens, who filmed the American forces liberating the German concentration camps and admitted to feeling repulsion towa rd the starved prisoners who grabbed at him. His primary horror was not so much in the abjection of the prisoners as in his recognition of the Nazi in himself, which, I might point out, is most reminiscent of Woolf’s reference to the “Hitler within” in Three Guineas (1938). Hindrichs notes that Stevens took a very large risk of being la beled a Nazi in admitting his revulsion; similarly, she believes that Woolf consisten tly tries to figure out the othering mechanism which is at the heart of human deprav ity (15 Jul 2005). Melb a Cuddy-Keane agrees, expressing admiration for Woolf’ s constant effort to be hone st and noting an essay by one of her own students on Woolf’s The Years (1937) as being ab out the dangers of avoidance and repression—both in one’s persona l life, (as in young Rose’s not being able to talk about the strange man in The Years who exposed himself to her) and in terms of destructive aspects of British life (15 Jul 2005). Mark Hussey finds Woolf’s remark deeply ironic but also characteri stic of a particular class in Britain. To him, it is the kind of comment one might make with full c onsciousness simply because of the frisson created by daring to write it down (15 Jul 2005). I agree with Crawford, Keane, and Hindrichs but also believe that Woolf felt conf licted about major issu es such as this one, and sometimes exhibits ambivalent attitudes in her private and public writing that suggest the well-known “colonization” syndrome familiar to students of postcolonialism: she has internalized the predominantly male Br itish establishment’s view of women, and specifically in this case, the prevailing vi ew of mental illne ss and how it should be


68 treated. As Althusser has pointed out, successf ul interpellation into a dominant ideology operates without the subject’s awareness. This is the case with Woolf in her early period; however, she also reveals i rruptions of dissent and a growing consciousness of her ideological entrapment. The issue of mental illness is related, I believe, to Woolf’s early experience of sexual trauma.11 In these early pieces and in other writin g there is a splitting and diffusing of her psychosexual identity that ultimately aff ects discussions of Woolf and class. Her personality boundaries become overly permeable and at times she exhibits a seeming fusion with female figures in particular--Vane ssa, her sister; Stella, her half-sister; and Violet Dickinson, a friend of Stella’s with whom Virginia became very close and with whom she stayed after her first breakdown. Wa s Woolf also frightened of identification with her recalcitrant and minimally educated half-sister, Laura? Th is psychology of class, involving a fear of dissolution of ego boundaries, leads Woolf to periodically indulge in and even to encourage retention of aspects of the upper middle class into which she was born. In The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell delineates th e prescriptive conventions imposed by class (involving leve l of speech, manner of dress and so on) which serve as ego boundaries. These demarcations provide a script for behavi or that cannot easily be discarded by one who is also dealing with re al mental illness. Nonetheless, Woolf moves forward over the course of her career to a position that recogni zes her own complicity (both conscious and unwitting) in perpetuating deleterious class structures, while she simultaneously works toward a classless democracy that empowers everyone, but particularly the “uneducated daughters of educated men.”


69 Various critics have examined th e psychodynamics of Woolf’s sexual trauma and history of mental illness. Woolf scholar Thomas Cara magno, who has studied Woolf’s history of mental breakdowns, points out that the significan ce of early trauma in Woolf must be examined in the light of a multigenerational family tendency toward depression and mania (“The Lure of Reductionism” 320-21). Though they do not specifically analyze Woolf, other psychoanalytic thinke rs, such as Juliet Mitchell and Nancy Choderow, provide valuable insight into her psychologica l struggles and efforts to achieve liberation for women and the elimin ation of class differences. Juliet Mitchell claims that oppression is lodge d deep within the psyche of women and that it is produced by the castration and Oedipus complex rooted in patriarchal society. Though critical of Freud’s description of the functioning of the Oedipus complex for a woman, she does agree that, as a consequence of this func tioning, a woman may be more bisexual than a man. Instead of internalizing the law in the de velopment of a superego, a girl must accept her pre-Oedipal identification with her moth er and become a nurturing person. She is not an heir to the law and therefore must take her place in patriarcha l culture as one who insures that mankind reproduces itself. Thus men enter into the st ructure of a history demarcated by class, and women retain thei r definition within the kinship patterns of society (403-06). As Mitchell de scribes it, women reveal undeni able similarity in social positioning: “Differences of class, historical epoch, specific social situations alter the expression of femininity; but in relation to the law of the father, women’s position across the board is a comparable one” (406). Thus identity is inherently problematic for women, marriage represents an age-old exchange syst em related to the development of kinship,


70 and women share a similar position within pa triarchal culture. Thes e characteristics are almost the markers of a subclass. In additi on, women may retain a bisexual tendency. Woolf recognized all of these aspects of her situation and that of other women in her society, and she chose to expose these stru ctures of discrimination. Though she chose marriage, Woolf rejected the typical reproduc tive role of a mother, though she may have been unduly pressured by doctors treating her for mental illness, and by Leonard’s and Vanessa’s views that children would be too much for her to handle. She also actively resisted the “Angel in the House” syndrome ex pected of a woman in her mother’s era, and wrote on several occasions about the enorm ous difficulty in killing off this angel so that she would write. Woolf would likely have agreed with Mitchell that “It is not only in the ideology of their roles as mothers a nd procreators but above all in the very psychology of femininity that women bear witn ess to the patriarchal definition of human society” (413). Woolf presents a similar vi ew in a story written in 1906 but not published until 1979. In [“The Journal of Mistress Joan Martyn”], which uses a medieval setting, young Joan is trained by her mother for very tr aditionally feminine ro les. Ironically, Joan dies young, like Rachel Vinrace in The Voyage Out (1915). Only later do Woolf’s heroines discover a way to escape from th e colonized internalization of their own inferiority and repressed anger. In plai nly identifying Septimus as Clarissa’s Dppelganger in Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf presents a veiled argument for connections between a psychology of femininity, class, wa r, and mental illness. A descent from the mental problems of depression into physical illness for Rachel in The Voyage Out also suggests this nexus, though the ominous hints of war and battleships are a more muted backdrop in this novel. Rachel realizes all too keenly that she belongs to the class of the


71 “uneducated daughters of educated men.” I suggest that Rachel becomes ill because the identity offered to her as a female subject interpellated into patr iarchy is limited enough to trigger a real mental and physical breakdown. In a landmark text, The Reproduction of Mothering: Ps ychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender (1978), Nancy Choderow examined the female’s “prolonged symbiosis” with the mother, since the daughter and mother are both female. Choderow famously concludes that females will maintain thei r strongest connections with other women because of this gender continuity. She also notes that women exhibit more permeable ego boundaries than males, largely because they ar e socialized to connect their self-interest with others, rather than w ith characteristically solitary male pursuits (145-46). Woolf’s early novels, The Voyage Out and Night and Day (1919) demonstrate particular concern with the relation of these ps ychosexual issues to the institution of marriage, and these novels will be examined more closely later. “[The Journal of Mistress Joan Martyn]”12 presents a fictional narrator named Miss Rosamond Merridew, aged forty-five, who has ga ined fame in her profession for research into the system of land tenure in medieval England. Again, Woolf shows concern with class-based issues linked to pr operty, inheritance, and gender. In Mistress Joan’s journal, featured within the short story, Woolf di splays a consciousness of class as David Cannadine defines it: as hier archy, as a sense of different objective circumstances of power, status, and money, a sense of one’s pl ace in time and history. In the story, Miss Merridew, for her research, seeks out the Mart yn family, whose nobility of birth has not prevailed against the poverty of the land, for they have descended in social class in later generations. Their remaining pa rtial treasure consists of th e pictures and documents of


72 their ancestors. Miss Merridew is offere d the ancient manuscript of Mr. Martyn’s grandmother, Joan Martyn. This fictional me dieval journal provides a fascinating glimpse of Woolf’s interest in the land-based system of patriarchy and cla ss in England. She was beginning to connect her sense of alienati on as a young, unmarried woman struggling to become a writer with the b ackdrop of English national imperialism and the family imperialism represented by her famous father Leslie Stephen (who had died two years earlier in 1904).Woolf’s choice of persona here, that of an older, unmarried and childless female academic, anticipates both her own later personal circumstances (though she was never an academic) and her later critique in Three Guineas of patriarchy and war in England as based upon a complex and capitalis tic, land-based system. Of course, a certain irony resides in the fact that Miss Merridew’s prof ession remains dependent upon the very system she subtly criticizes. The young Joan in the supposedly medieval13journal is raised by a strong mother whose husband is constantly absent on business. Interestingly, Joan sa ys that she is the only one who can read. The chief topic of di scussion in the family is the finding of a suitable mate for Joan’s marriage, a mode of life her mother refers to as both “a great honour and a great burden” ( The Complete Shorter Fiction 50).14 Joan protests: “O how blessed it would be never to marry, or grow old; but to spend one’s life innocently and indifferently among the trees and rivers whic h alone can keep one cool and childlike in the midst of the troubles of the world! Marria ge or any other great joy would confuse the clear vision which is still mine” ( CSF 52). Note that Joan ac knowledges the positive possibilities of marriage at the same time that she laments its drawbacks. Woolf intensifies her criti cal examination of marriage beginni ng from around this period in her


73 twenties, and actually continues her reflection upon this institu tion for the rest of her life. As Woolf starts to experience the full effects of interpella tion into the dominant ideology of a society, she appears to recognize that her positioning as a female in a patriarchal society will cause a devolution into a lower-class status within either middle-class or upper-class society: a subgroup, a cl ass within a class constituted by gender. In the story, Joan also realizes her gender constraints desp ite her “advantageous” marriage, but Joan is far more passive than Woolf in accepting the identity prescribed by her society. In [“The Journal of Mistress Joan Ma rtyn”], Joan displays anticipation and acceptance of the strong maternal role modeled by her mo ther. In fact, though not the stereotypic role reversal of A Cockney’s Farming Experiences, this strong mother figure is among the first in a line which extends through Night and Day and To the Lighthouse (1927) and suggests Woolf’s impression of power and st rength in her own mother’s character. In [“Mistress Joan”] the shrew of the cockney st ory seems to shed her unpleasant extremes to reveal only admirable characteristics in Joan ’s mother. In fact, Joan says of her mother that “She rules us all,” incl uding the priest, Sir John Sandys ( CSF 46). Of course, this power exists in the vacuum of the very frequent absence of Joan’s father; however, to speak of “ruling” even a member of the chur ch during the medieval period of Catholic dominance is saying a great deal. After a rema rkable moment of complete adoration and submission before the statue of the Madonna at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, Joan prepares further for her impending ma rriage to the satirically-named Sir Amyas Bigod by helping with management of her fa mily’s house and lands, and by listening to her mother’s theory of ownership. The Ma donna scene is oddly reminiscent of other ecstatic scenes in Woolf’s fiction, generally connected with relations hips hinted at as


74 lesbian; examples are Fanny’s fantasies in “M oments of Being” and the Sally Seton kiss in Mrs. Dalloway. These scenes are connected to Woolf’s developing psychology of femininity and suggest an early consciousne ss of lesbianism as a choice opposed to heterosexual marriage. Joan’s mother’s theory of ownershi p in [“The Journal of Mistress Joan Martyn”] involves the metaphor of a person as the ru ler of a small island surrounded by churning waters. The ruler plants, cultivates, and secu res the island from the tides until one day it is established as a firm plot of ground. He r mother adds that she hopes England will someday become this solidly-established is land, a concept Joan concedes may have merit, but one which she ultimately rejects, saying, “Yet what it is that I want, I cannot tell, although I crave for it, and in some secret way, expect it” ( CSF 60). Does Joan crave a life for which there is a no vocabulary in the Middle Ages, the life of a woman who manages without the restricti ons of marriage (while at th e same time recognizing its advantages)? She is, after all, a writer, the diary genre bei ng one of the few available to her, and her father admires her writing. Sh e fears marriage will mean losing the clear vision needed to record her observations as a writer. The Rosamond Merridew of this story a ppears closely related to a character with the same name in “Phyllis and Rosamond,” a short story also written by Woolf in 1906. “Phyllis and Rosamond” analyzes the situation of two “daughters at home” who must “work” the drawing room scene in order to attract the right ki nd of people, and, in particular, the right kind of husband. Many later Woolf them es emerge in this story as well: daughters being educated only to marry well; the need to escape from the “slavery” of family to a “house of one’s own”; classbased treatment of peopl e as categories; the


75 feeling of not fitting into the worlds presen ted as options; and pleas ure in discovering that “the world was full of solid things” indepe ndent of one’s existence. Jan VanStavern argues that “Phyllis and Rosamond” and [“The Journal of Mistress Joan Martyn”] reveal Rosamond in her twenties and forties respectivel y and that both stories show connections Woolf makes between “women, war, the mark etplace, and colonialism.” VanStavern notes subversive slippages via rhyming metaphors in the introductory section of the story, subversion that begins with the narrator’s comment that the two girls appear to have “never trod a rougher earth than the Turkey carpet” and concl ude with the statement that comparisons between colonized subjects and th e colonizers are unfair (253). I would add that the subtle satire here of Woolf’s early writing prove s a slippery slope for some readers: the way Woolf structur es the metaphor subverts the ve ry claim to injustice when the narrator says, “But it would be as unjust as it would be ea sy to press this metaphor till it suggested that the comparison wa s appropriate and complete in all its parts. It fails; but where it fails and why it fails it will take some time and attention to discover” ( CSF 18). In other words, dear reader, the comparison may be completely apt! However, at this stage in her career Woolf is less confiden t and prone to indirection rather than unequivocal statements. Her satire functions as a veil covering what is too problematic to reveal clearly to all but the most astute of he r readers. At this point she has too much at stake in terms of class to radica lly question its underpinnings. VanStavern argues that, through Rosa mond and Joan Martyn, Woolf creates a kind of postcolonial text that insist s on both a new way of read ing and new texts--those of oppressed subjects--to be read. Furthermore, VanStavern finds Rosamond searching for herself in the ruins and perhaps also for lost female subjectivity, for the story is also one


76 of disinherited grandmothers. She believes that the mixedup dates in the story do not reflect Woolf’s errors but rather suggest that men are not able to accurately remember or record women’s place in histor y—a position I accept, for Woolf is given to this type of nuanced, almost buried satire in her early writ ing. I also accept VanStavern’s conclusion that the land becomes a metaphor for the fe male body in this story and that the land furthermore provides “a literal figure of co lonial ‘possession’” even as Lady Martyn, Joan’s mother, assures her daughter’s inde pendence by virtue of obedience (254-57). In psychodynamic terms, one may wonde r if Woolf is here recognizing not only a desire for more than the usual marriag e and family, but also a desire to be that overarching figure of the writer who observes, reflects, record s, and shapes reality for others in the telling. At the conclusion of the tale, Mistress Joan’s proud father, a figure akin to Leslie Stephen, tells her that she must keep her writing, or that he must keep it for her, for then their descendants shall have cause to respect one of them at least. Writing is valued highly in this story of the land-based class structures of early England, which distantly reflects the England of Woolf’s late Victorian ch ildhood as well. Joan could have become Miss Merridew in a different century, a Miss Merridew who does not appear to regret her choice. In the story, John Martyn points ou t that Joan never did marry and died at the age of thirty. One wonders if Miss Merridew was s ecretly pleased . . Joan here may be joining a list of Woolf’s early heroines who essentially choose death rather than marriage. Their “deaths” may be either psychical or physical, as in The Voyage Out or institutional, as in Katharine Hilbery’s decision to embark upon conventional marriage. Yet, other major char acters in Woolf’s fiction from the same period suggest the possibility of happiness as single women, despite stereotypic views of


77 them as lonely and unfulfilled. Examples are Miss Julia Craye in “Moments of Being: Slater’s Pins Have No Points” and Miss Merridew herself. Rosamond Merridew’s signature is the kind of cripp ling anger that Woolf generally warned women writers not to indulge in, but as VanStavern reminds us Rosamond “avoids col onization by divorcing, not dying” (258). Gender issues are markedly connected to class issues in th is story. Although Mistress Joan is the daughter of a man who keeps servants and owns a castle and surrounding lands, her prospects for the future depend upon marriage to an older man who possesses land bordering that of Joan’s family. Marriage is an iffy affair; only if the marriage proves suitable can she become an honorable and authoritative wo man like her mother, one who “rules” the manor in her husband’s absence. Joan’s mother is a strong woman with a keen domestic bent, knitting prodigiously much lik e Mrs. Ramsay and Woolf’s own mother. There is even an echo of Julia’s philanthropic social work in the concern of Joan’s mother (who remains nameless) for th e lower classes which she and her daughter visit in the cottages of the ma nor. Woolf is at this point beginning to see the manner in which gender inflects class.15 This story betrays cont radictions that Alex Zwerdli ng has referred to as a general “ideological impurity” in Woolf’s wo rk, though the term seems unnecessarily disparaging ( Virginia Woolf 242). As discussed in my Intr oduction, I would call it the sous-rature of modernism identified by Marianne De Koven, the impossible dialectic that Woolf so often wrestled with. Here a decision to marry is recognized as affecting one’s entire life, including a career path, because of class structures closely linked to the traditional pattern of a woman moving from the “guidance” of a father to that of a


78 husband. Losing the right to live (and think) independently matters in this short story; even though Joan, a product of a largely Cathol ic medieval period, has little real choice in the matter, Miss Merridew cl early represents an evolut ionary possibility where a woman’s maternal feelings can be transferred to the “shrivelled and colourless little gnomes” of yellowed parchment about which she writes ( CSF 33). Miss Merridew could be viewed as a representation of three of Pie rre Bourdieu’s types of class, since Merridew possesses economic capital by virtue of her profession cultural capital because of her education, and symbolic capital because of her standing as a professional in her society. Ironically, it is only Joan Martyn and her mo ther who appear to represent substantial social capital in the form of relationships, pa rticularly the relations hip of marriage. Woolf does not yet suggest that subjec tivity is constructed within so cial structures and relations and that subject positions are different from so cial position. It is only as she matures that she begins to see more clearly that the entire notion of femininity is a male construction. Alex Zwerdling observes that Woolf po ssessed an acute sense of how class and money shape an individual. He argues that realisti cally accepting one’s own social identity was not common in Woolf’s day. I ndividuals often downplayed any signs of privilege and idealized traditional hierarchical connections between artists and aristocratic patrons. To Zwerdling, Woolf does not flaunt her privilege, but rather as serts that class differences are real and cannot be ignored. Woolf’s cor pus as a whole provid es evidence of her understanding of this central point. In particular, Woolf se ems convinced that a nuanced sense of class identity is vital for a nove list. Zwerdling notes that in “Women and Fiction” ( CE II 147) Woolf writes that future women will write not simply about clashing emotions, but about the clashing of classes and races. He point s out that in “The Niece of


79 an Earl” ( CE I 219) she writes that British fiction is steeped in the rise and fall of social rankings. He also observes that certain majo r figures of Woolf’s era, notably Gaetano Mosca and T.S. Eliot, championed the con cept of an aristocracy of birth and the importance of the family in the transmission of culture ( Virginia Woolf 88-92). Another prime example of someone who championed su ch concepts quite strongly is Vita Sackville-West’s husband, Harold Nicols on. Woolf worked against these currents, influenced by them but striving to shore up her own independent thought. Class and money are also connected to both Woolf’s own “serva nt problems” and the absence of well-drawn, lower-cla ss characters in her fiction. Many critics have remarked upon the shadowy depiction of servants in W oolf. To Zwerdling, this absence betrays middle-class guilt. Woolf could not “handle” serv ants as Julia did: Julia even wrote an essay about the proper techniques for doing so. Woolf had difficulty with her servants, Nelly Boxall and Lottie Hope; she believed that this difficulty was the result of the entire class system (96-98). Perhaps th is is to Woolf’s credit. She recognized that servants were essential to her lifestyle, providing time for writing; her discomfort may have resided primarily in recognizing that she was depe ndent upon and therefore complicitous in maintaining one of the support systems of empire whose moral underpinnings she had begun to question. She also later realized that she wa s constricted as a novelist because she simply did not have enough experience with real lower-cla ss life and could not pretend to portray it realistically. In [“The Journal of Mistress Joan Mart yn”] Woolf depicts Joan as reflecting in great detail upon her mother’s “theory of ownershi p.” This phrase define s her mother’s vision of managing not only her large, medieval hous ehold (which included numerous servants),


80 but also her vision for and work to cultivate the island called England, an effort for which Joan decides she should thank her mother and other women like her ( CSF 59-60). This interesting image, redolent of the image of Julia calming the turbulent waters of the Stephen household so that civilized life could reign, is one whic h also captures the gist of a book that likely influenced Woolf at a fair ly early stage in her writing and thinking: Clive Bell’s Civilization. It is around the figure of Mistre ss Joan’s mother that important issues of class coalesce: a sense of the importance of respectability--which British sociologist Beverly Skeggs has emphasi zed as vital to the development of “Englishness”—and its relationship to moral au thority, and a sense of the middle class as defined against the masses, which were seen as needing control and lacking individuality. Though Vanessa’s husband and Virgin ia’s good friend, Clive Bell, dedicated his Civilization to “Dearest Virginia” in 1927, Woolf ha d seen the book in manuscript form much earlier and knew its ge neral outline long before it was published. Brian Shaffer notes that Woolf mentions Bell’s plans for a book on civilization as early as 1906 in her diary (76). Sustaining the finest values of a civilized society was certainly an ideal to which Woolf aspired. To her, civilization was related to education and to class, though she also believed in the po ssibility of self-education for the common reader who might belong to a lower class. However, she appear s quickly to have rea lized the snobbery of Bell’s work. Bell defines civilization as “artificial” and disparages things which are “natural,” for even the “brutes” are natural. To him, civilization is primarily the result of a liberal education that produces a desirable self-consciousness and a cr itical spirit. From these two elements flow a sense of values a nd the enthronement of reason. This liberal education appears to be defined as a univer sity education grounded in the classics. To


81 Woolf, who lacked the benefits of the university education afforded Bell—as well as her brothers and their other male friends--reading th e praises of a liberal education must have rung a bit hollow. Did she herself not then be long to some lower, less civilized class? Would she be able to join an essentially ma le conversation? Woolf was beginning to see, as later feminists demonstrated, that reason, the subject, and language were all constructed as male. She was also beginning to recognize that much which is female was not represented in her societ y and that at times even the vocabulary to express the experiences of women was nonexistent. Other elements of Bell’s argument in Civilization must have resonated positively with Woolf. She agreed with Bell that a civilized individual must assert himself or herself against the “flock instinct.” Bell emphasizes th e tolerance of difference as an attribute of any civilized person and of the English pe ople, though he believes that the English remain largely in a state of philistinism and barbarism, overly influenced by the “gospel of work.” Woolf also exhibits a keen sense of the need to be an independent thinker, often going against the grain of the rest of society. Bell points out England’s proud tradition of tolerating the eccentric indi vidual, and both Bell and Woolf display passionate belief in individua l expression. This tradition explains some of Woolf’s intense dislike of being labeled “feminist” or of being labeled at all. She generally resisted the herd instinct, though she someti mes gave in to convention during her early years out of fear of severe criticism by family or friends or those who might not then publish her work. Her toning down of a more assertive heroine in an earlier version of The Voyage Out is one example. Bell also argues that the sensitive, intelligent English man or woman is almost forced to become alienated and isolated because of England’s


82 philistine lack of civilized culture. Certainly Woolf often felt herself to be an outsider in this sense, though she also came to relish this useful observer status and even glorifies it in Three Guineas. Woolf likely agreed also with Bell’s de lineation of the manner in which the “grip of patriotism” is unbound by civilization. For Bell, th is occurs simply because truly civilized people begin to realize that they share much more with civilized people of other countries and races than with their own uncivili zed countrymen and women. Woolf makes excellent use of this very point in her outsider’s battle cry for women in Three Guineas : “as a woman, I have no country” (109). Ultimat ely the entire idea of “civilization” is irredeemably tainted by its association with the ideological work of empire. In this important later work of Woolf’s, she cl early disagrees with Bell’s claim in Civilization that a civilized artist will not be drawn into “wasteful protest.” Like many in her lifetime, Bell did not approve of W oolf’s “feminism,” especially as depicted in Three Guineas To Bell, artists who asserted themselves and “int erfered” with accepted societal norms were “deformed and deficient” (189-90). Once again, it was a criticism of Woolf as an artist, one which relegated her to second-class status. Additionally, she likely was stung by Bell’s comment that “thoughtless philanthropists” think democracy and justice are ends in themselves; on the other hand, she found certa in merits in his argument, having little patience with long-winded suffragette mee tings and the relatively ineffectual, though well-intended, philanthropy of even her own mother. She seems to have agreed with Bell’s assertion that civili zation depends upon material security, though it is hard to imagine her not bristling at Bell ’s insistence that a civilized leisure class requires “slaves” even in modern times and that inequality of classes is essential to the development of


83 civilization. Woolf certainly must have laughe d at Clive’s depiction of the “profession” of hetaerae in the ancient Athenian society. Should she become one of these intelligent women who eschewed marriage and motherhoo d in order to cultivate their more “civilized” side? Bell argues for a defin ition of civilization not as a nati on state, but as a state of mind among a group of individuals, like the Bloomsbury group, who are strong enough to create a nucleus which becomes a civilizing power in society. Evidence can be found to show that Woolf agrees with Bell on th is point. Note Woolf’s argument for the importance of such individuals in A Room of One’s Own and even in very early stories, such as “[The Journal of Mistress Joan Mart yn],” where Joan’s mother seems to suggest just such a vision of a civili zed England emerging from the tu rbulent waters of chaos to coalesce beneath her feet. Br ian Shaffer also notes the influence upon Woolf of Bell’s related book, On British Freedom, and suggests that Jacob’s Room and Mrs. Dalloway both echo and critique Bell’s theories, especi ally in characters such as Jacob Flanders (who considers writing an essay on civiliza tion), Miss Kilman (the quintessential, censorious, spinster do-gooder described by Be ll as having no heart for individuals), Septimus, Lady Bruton (a philistine corrupted by too much leisure and wealth), Peter Walsh (seen as modeled upon Clive) and Clarissa herself (76-82).16 Woolf’s comments on Civilization in her letters and diaries respectively are divergent, reflecting her private criticism of Bell’s thinking and writing.17 In an essay on the sociopolitical vision in Woolf’s novels, David Br adshaw rightly asse rts that Woolf was extremely sensitive to the demeaning nature of Bell’s rhetoric about the need for civilization to be sustained by “slaves.” To Bradshaw, she inscribes her opposing views


84 in novels like To the Lighthouse where she criticizes the leisured classes for their ineffectual Victorian philanthropy, and embraces a vision (by means of artist Lily Briscoe in particular) where civilization can be cons tructed not simply on the basis of the works of “great men,” but on the va lorization of the work of average human beings (“Sociopolitical”199-203).18 Woolf felt understandably constr ained about openly criticizing those close to her and those who might reject her attempts at publication; therefore, her public statements in particular must be viewed in the larger context of her work. After all, Clive Bell was married to Vanessa, her sister and he was a person she saw frequently, not to mention someone who encouraged he r writing and with whom she had had a serious flirtation. Lyndall Gordon also belie ves, perhaps arguably, that it was Woolf’s fiction in particular th at was the repository of her soul, not the letters and not always even the diaries--though there are methodological links between the diaries and the novels, and the diaries certainly recorded many observat ions used as raw material for the novels (174-77). Fiction offered a veil or alternat e persona. The fictive cloak could provide protection when needed, allowing the possibility of denying direct rela tion to real life. Fiction allowed an ironic and often metaphoric or allegorical baring of what one saw as truth under the cover of a genre supposedly de dicated to untruth. It was a perfect vehicle for a woman raised in a drawing room wher e Gordon notes that a little bell was rung during tea time to signal the need to detour fr om undesirably controvers ial topics (59). While reading Carlyle under Leslie’s tute lage at age fifteen, Virg inia was taken by her father to see Carlyle’s house in Chels ea (Gordon 75). In 1909, after two years of struggling with her first nove l, after accepting and then rejecting Lytton Strachey’s marriage proposal at age 27, and after having her first submission of fiction to a national


85 magazine rejected, Woolf returned to the house --perhaps psychically al so to the roots of her love for literature in her father. This visit produced a sketch, “Carlyle’s House,” which was recently discovered in a 1909 not ebook, edited by David Bradshaw, and published in 2003. This edition is a collec tion of the 1909 notebook sketches, including “Divorce Courts” and the now somewhat infamo us “Jews.” Doris Lessing, who wrote the foreword to this new volume, states that “The snobbery of Woolf and her friends now seems not merely laughable, but damaging, a narrowing ignorance” (vii i) and that it is indeed “. . a pity she was such a wasp, su ch a snob . .” (xii). Lessing’s broad-brush painting of Woolf’s life and work in a stereotypic and monolithic manner is surprising. Perhaps it should not be, for it is part a nd parcel of a continuing general public misperception of the developing nature of Woolf’ s attitudes, practical efforts, and writing about class, and likely reflects Lessin g’s acknowledged Marxist working class sympathies as well. However, a number of Woolf scholars, notably Melba Cuddy-Keane and Naomi Black, have recently countered such views. David Bradshaw’s introduction to the collection is also more balanced, argui ng that Woolf’s unhappy st ate of mind at the time of authorship contributed to a general te ndency to find fault in the sketches, with a particularly offensive acerbity in “Jews” (xv). Bradshaw also points out Woolf’s insistence in her greatest novels that no one is simply anything, be it anti-Semitic or stridently feminist, and that in the 1930s Woolf closely scrutinized her own bigotry and wrote a “philo-Semitic novel” entitled TheYears (xv-xxii). Of course, Woolf also married and came to love deeply a Jewish man—a vital fact which ought to ba lance her relatively few anti-Semitic comments at a time in Britain when anti-Semitism was common among the upper middle class (45).


86 Woolf has a number of things to say a bout class in “Carlyle’s House,” particularly with regard to marriage as pa triarchy. This sketch is shor t and keeps its prime focus upon the relationship between Carlyl e and his wife. Woolf is criti cal of Mrs. Carlyle’s unhappy face in her portraits, and both spouses are distan ced; not a single first name is used. This distancing beads to a head in the penultimate paragraph, where Woolf suddenly asks, “Did one always feel a coldness between them? The only connection the flash of the intellect. I imagine so” (4). She concludes in the next paragraph: “T he most natural thing was the garden, with its flags, and the stump of a tree” (4). A chilling assessment indeed of the marital landscape. Bradshaw notes many connections between the Carlyle and Stephen families, suggestingt that Woolf likel y visited the house as preparation for her review of the Carlyle love le tters, and that Woolf’s review is a continuation of Woolf’s dialog with Lytton Strachey about marriage. Wo olf writes admiringly in the review of the Carlyles’ intellectual relationship with each other and seems to value this kind of union highly (27-8). Did she also fear the turbul ent reputation of the Carlyle marriage? “Great Men’s Houses,” one of six articles published between 1931-32 in Good Housekeeping ,19 continues Woolf’s fascination with the Carlyle house and the Carlyle marriage and provides additional insight into Woolf’s view of class. In “Great Men’s Houses,” Woolf takes pains to discuss in de tail the material deprivations which caused suffering for the Carlyles, primarily for the “one unfortunate maid” and for the coughing Mrs. Carlyle, who had to worry about r ecovering the horsehair couch, cleaning the drawing-room wallpaper, and making sure that the maid had heated water for Mr. Carlyle’s shaving. The solitary maid, Helen, whose name at least is registered, was responsible for pumping, boiling, and then carry ing all hot water needed up three flights


87 of stairs from the basement. As Woolf puts it, “Every drop that the Carlyles used—and they were Scots, fanatical in their cleanlin ess—had to be pumped by hand from a well in the kitchen” (23). It is impr essive to note Woolf empathizes both with the physical drudgery of the maid and the taxing mental and physical work of Mrs. Carlyle: the juxtaposition and many details conflate the work of the two in the service of Mr. Carlyle’s purely intellectual e fforts upstairs in his study. As Woolf expresses it, Number 5 Cheyne Row was not so much a dwelling-plac e as a battlefield or struggle with the practical realities of a life of Victorian life. Mrs. Carlyle’s mo ments in fine silk next to a blazing fire, as depicted in a painting, were won at great cost, and the painting reveals her hollowed cheeks and half-tortured eyes. Woolf further muses that half their conflicts might have been avoided had they possessed ho t and cold water, a bath, and gas fires in the bedrooms, for “what can genius and love avail against bugs and tin baths and pumps in the basement?” (26). The Carlyle segment demonstrates several key points concerning Woolf’s view of class. These include a recognition of the enormous influence of material means upon the actual lives of individuals; an acknowledgement of the “servanthood” of many wives, and a suggestion that their cla ss standing is not equa l to that of their husbands; a lack of recognition of the influence of ethnic stereotypes even upon herself (the Scots ancestry of the Carlyles); a concer n with practical aspect s of the institution of marriage; and a conviction of the vital impor tance of seemingly unimportant detail in revealing character and situation. Here she famously clai ms that an hour spent in the houses of great men will yield more informati on about them and their lives than all the biographies—a view she asserts throughout most of her life. Also, though the piece is


88 titled “Great Men’s Houses,” the Carlyle se ction concentrates upon the women of the house and the manner in which their effort s create the “voice” of the house. In “Miss Reeves,” the sketch whic h follows, Woolf describes the real-life Amber Reeves as having something of the snake in her (one might observe that Woolf herself was a bit of a snake to use Miss Reeves’ real name in this portrait) and says, “I imagine that her taste and insight ar e not fine; when she describe d people she ran into stock phrases, and took rather a cheap view. She seem ed determined to be human also; to like people, even though they were stupid” ( Carlyle’s House 5). These are certainly unpleasant, elitist remarks by Woolf. Yet, the depiction illust rates both Woolf’s seemingly uncritical classism and her insistence on getting to the truth underneath the surface. It gets worse. In “Jews,” another sketch from this collection, sh e refers to Mrs. Loeb (again, using the woman’s real name) as a fat Jewess fawning and flattering them, and states that “Her food, of course swam in oil and was nasty” ( Carlyle’s House 14). It’s perhaps the condescending “of course” which is most offensive. One must admit that Woolf could certainly be acidic and unpleasan t, but she is young at this stage and the notebook sketches were not meant for publ ication. David Bradshaw, though also expressing distaste for this sketch, brings forth additional context for these sketches. He notes that Mr. Loeb was a photographer whom Woolf felt had dogged her for years, that anti-Semitic comments were “endemic” among the English upper middle class at the time, that three years later she married a Je w, and that in the 1930s she challenged her own prejudice—particularly in The Years where she deplored the anti-Semitism of the


89 British Union of Fascists and stressed the manner in which Jews contributed to England’s culture (43-45). “Divorce Courts” is a sketch fr om the 1909 notebook that is based upon Woolf’s attendance at a famous court case where a woman with six children petitioned for a separation from her husband on the grounds of cruelty. Bradshaw notes that the woman, Alice Mary Fearnley-W hittingstall, later took up with a certain Miss Lewis, who was reported to be a lesbian. He observes that Wool f is fairly balanced and hesitant to place categorical blame on anyone. However, she seem s to side more with the husband in the end and is surprisingly hard on the lesbian Mi ss Lewis. As Bradshaw puts it, “In 1909 . the grasp of class still held Woolf very ti ghtly indeed” (45-49). Yet, in examining the sketch closely, I find a fairly neutral point of view overall. All parties are criticized in various ways, including Reverend FearneyWhittingstall, who is called “perhaps, a selfish man.” In fact, the sketch appears to be more of a reflection not only upon marriage, but (to paraphrase Woolf’s first li ne in the sketch) a reflection upon bringing religion into contact with private life. In her early life and work, Woolf a ttempts to understand a feminine psychology of class, particularly in relation to marriage as patriarchy and “empire,” and in relation to the question of education for women. As she deve lops a gender-inflected understanding of class, she simultaneously begins to engage issu es of mental illness as possibly related to eugenics and to a psychology of class for wo men. She also demonstrates a concern with issues of class connected to the maintena nce and support of “civ ilization.” Her relative insensitivity to race issues at th is time will change as she matures.


90 CHAPTER THREE “I’m not like Hirst . I don’t see circles of chalk between people’s feet. I sometimes wish I did. It seems to me so tremendously complicated and confused. One can’t come to any decision at all; one’s less and less capable of making judgments. D’you find that? And then one never knows what anyone feels. We’re all in the dark.” Terence to Rachel in The Voyage Out (205-6). “DREAMS AND REALITIES”20: THE VOYAGE OUT AND THE POLITICS OF EMPIRE In 1915 Woolf finally succeeded in getting her first novel published. She had submitted her manuscript of The Voyage Out (originally titled Melymbrosia ) to Gerald Duckworth, her half-brother, in 1913, but subsequently suffered a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide in the same year. The Times Literary Supplement review of the novel remarked that “‘never was a book more fe minine, more recklessly feminine’” (qtd. in Majumdar 49), but generally the book rece ived mixed reviews. Mitchell Leaska in 1977 refers to it as remaining “a strange, diffi cult, and still unpopular book” (12). Critics of the 1960s and 1970s view it in mythic term s of initiation and que st. Some see it as a Bildungsroman. Lucio Ruotolo believes the nov el depicts “a heroine who will not grow into the world as it is constituted” ( Interrupted 21), and Christine Froula views it as the initiation of a female artist into the difficult choices offered in Wool f’s late Victorian era (“Out of” 136). Susan Stanford Friedman argue s that Rachel is presented as a “model reader” able to balance how to read “bot h books and life” (113). The interpretation of Rachel’s death in relation to the novel’s m eaning as a whole has been deliberated as a central point by many critics --Alex Zwerdling, Mitchell Leas ka, Hermione Lee, Roger Poole, Thomas Caramagno, and others. Some view the novel as a precursor to The


91 Waves because of its pessimism and dream-like sequences. Patricia Laurence and Mark Hussey examine WoolfÂ’s use of and commentar y upon silence in the text. Herbert Marder was one of the few to notice elements of a feminist social critique in Feminism and Art: A Study of Virginia Woolf (1968), but only in the 1990s do Mark Hussey, Helen Wussow, Kathy Phillips, and several others discuss the The Voyage Out in terms of social critique. Though these studies begin to point out connect ions between WoolfÂ’s social critique and war, they do not precisely and extensively ex plore the novel through the lens of class as I do in this chapter. Since David Bradshaw is one of the few recently to engage class directly in relation to this novel (2000), I wi ll also discuss his tr eatment in arguing my own interpretation of this novel In The Voyage Out, Woolf demonstrates how a psycholog y of femininity is connected to class in RachelÂ’s exploration of her s ubject position. Here, also, Woolf shows the links between gender, class, and education. Set in about 1905, the novel revolves around twenty-four-year-old Rachel Vinrace, brought up by aunts in Richmond after her mother died when Rachel was eleven. Rachel sets forth on a voyage from London to South America, sailing on a ship owned by her fa ther, Willoughby Vinrace. The voyage is also a metaphor for RachelÂ’s inner journey of disc overy. This trope is eminently appropriate for Woolf, whose poetic incorpor ates the sea and its waves in such important ways. It is also fitting her first novel has Rachel emba rking upon a voyage enabled by her father, for it was Leslie Stephen who strongly encouraged and enabled his daughter to set forth on the voyage of becoming a writer. After a frightening and unexpected kiss from Richard Dalloway, who joins the passengers with his wife, Clar issa, at Lisbon, Rachel experi ences recurring nightmares.


92 She is persuaded to stay at Santa Marina, a South American island where her Aunt Helen and Uncle Ridley Ambrose have been loaned a villa. Helen hopes to save Rachel from the fate of becoming a hostess for her widowed father. While on the island, Rachel falls in love with Terence Hewet, who is visi ting with his friend, St. John Hirst. After becoming engaged to Terence on a trip up a rive r to see a native village, she falls ill and dies. Simple as the novel sounds in its basic ou tline, it has been seen by some critics as containing all of WoolfÂ’s main themes, as well as many of her habits of style. It has been viewed as both social critique (including a cr itique of marriage) and as a story full of mythic ambiguity and individual emotion. I will examine the novelÂ’s critiques of gender and class in relation to patr iarchy, empire, and power issues Subsequently I will focus upon WoolfÂ’s next novel, Night and Day, to show how its strong marriage theme is connected with these same issues. Night and Day is also one of WoolfÂ’s least-examined novels. Only relatively recently has WoolfÂ’s ideological aim of expa nding our political and ethical horizons has been recognized. At hough many of WoolfÂ’s novels are concerned with changing the status quo, often in a radical manner, her method of investigating these concerns is subtle enough to mask the full impor t of her critiques. Examples of her social critique can be found in almost any novel, but particularly in JacobÂ’s Room, To the Lighthouse, The Years, Night and Day, Flush (though political elemen ts in the latter two novels are not adequately recognized even today) and The Voyage Out.21 Woolf essentially stakes out a standpoint position similar to that of contemporary feminists Nancy Hartsock and Sandra Harding, who ask: how different would society look if one were to examine everything from the standpoint of a woma n instead of a man? This is


93 also the situated knowledge of which Donna Haraway speaks.Yet Woolf is never blatantly polemical, especially in her novels, for she hated didacticism in art, feared censure from friends and infl uential associates, and believe d that subtle provocation and satire were more effective than strident pol emics. As a result, her social critique is sometimes missed by the less-than-astute reader. She also only gradually came to fully develop her standpoint position and to r ecognize her own complicity in perpetuating empire. Chapter One of The Voyage Out begins in melancholy fashion, with Helen and Ridley Ambrose making their way eastward across the slums of London to the place where they will row out to meet their ship, the Euphrosyne for their vacation voyage to Santa Marina. Helen weeps as they depart; she w eeps for the children her husband is forcing her to leave behind temporarily, for the teemi ng masses of the poor they encounter on the way to the ship, and perhaps simply in sympathy with the rain and fog attendant upon their leaving England. It is Helen who first ar ticulates a major image in the novel used to describe social problems in industrial Britain : “When one gave up seeing the beauty that clothed things, this was the skeleton beneath” ( TVO 5). The skeleton image is used by Helen as she contemplates the social classe s of London: the rich, th e “bigoted workers,” the poor, the neglected old men and women. All is not well in Culver City, and Helen feels at this moment that she has little love for London. It is a maternal response reminiscent of Julia Stephen and her work among the poor, and also the response of one who recognizes an ugly truth submerged beneat h the bright faade of social life. Soon Rachel Vinrace arrives at a similar recognition, reflecting upon images even more literally submerged: those of black ribs of wrecked ships and smooth, green-sided

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94 monsters. Both women sense a reality beneat h the surface that evokes Woolf’s frequent use of the fin image. Some of the dark elements of soci ety are mentioned only as passing thoughts in the minds of characters. For example, Helen says of Willoughby Vinrace, Rachel’s father: “She had always suspected him of nameless at rocities with regard to his daughter, as indeed she had always suspected him of bullying his wife” ( TVO 17). What are readers to make of such a comment? Are we to wonder whether Louise DeSal vo’s suspicions about the sexual and emotional abuse endured by Wool f are justified? Helen does comment in Chapter Two on Rachel’s seeming immaturity and inability to “think, feel, laugh, or express herself”(18). Is Rachel a victim of emotional trauma? In an Introduction to Melymbrosia, Woolf’s earlier version of The Voyage Out-edited by DeSalvo and published in 1982--DeSalvo co mments incisively upon Woolf’s apparent aims at raising awareness of social problem s in Britain, particularly for its female citizens. Though critics generally agree that in the earlier version Woolf’s social critique is more overt and that Rachel is depicted as a significantly more vocal feminist, many of DeSalvo’s observations also apply to th e version published in Woolf’s lifetime as The Voyage Out DeSalvo states, for instance, that “T he setting aboard ship, the enigmatic conversations, the symbolic quality of the characters, the sense of mystery and magic— all suggest that Woolf was writ ing a female version of the Odyssey a female version of the initiation and voyage archetype” (Introd. xxxii i). DeSalvo also asserts that the earlier novel version was drawn partially from reallife observations made on Woolf’s two trips to Italy around the time of wr iting the manuscript. She believes that this version became “a work of social criticism with mythic ove rtones” which reveals Woolf as involved in

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95 many specific issues of British society in her day; it does not support the notion that she was an isolated dreamer weaving personal fantasies when she was not mentally ill (xxxiv-xxxvii). To DeSalvo, Rachel’s death (whi ch occurs in both ve rsions) reveals that as a woman she is a disposable commodity in the economic structure of her society. Her death can be traced to the mercantile ac tivities of Willoughby Vinrace, who does not hesitate to take his daughter to a potentially dangerous fore ign land but has never allowed her to take a walk by herself in London. Furthermore, Woolf parodies the odyssey tradition by frustrating the conventional expect ations of self-discovery: Rachel dies because she cannot return alive to an Engla nd in which negative attitudes toward women are so prevalent that they have taken on th e status of myth. Simply put, Rachel cannot overcome the fact that she is a woman; DeSa lvo believes that Wool f also suggests that women of the future must kill the concep tion of themselves as powerless (xxxviii-xl). Chapter One alludes repeatedly to the va rious class expectations that are addressed to “ladies” like Helen Ambrose or Rachel Vi nrace. Helen observes the training ladies receive “after the fashion of their sex” in prom oting men’s talk without listening to it, and Rachel reflects that “as her father’s daughter, she must be in some sort prepared to entertain” the Ambroses. Rachel then rece ives a second-hand admonition from her Aunt Bessie not to practice the pia no too much, for fear of deve loping arm muscles that will spoil her chances of marrying ( TVO 7-13). Chapter Two presents Rachel reflecting upon the highly haphazard nature of education for th e majority of well-todo girls in the last part of the nineteenth century. This critique resounds throughout Woolf’s works and is a major ingredient in Woolf’s view of cl ass, for she regards upper-class women as belonging to a sub-class because of an educat ion that severely lim its their ability to

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96 develop independence. For Naomi Black, the de gree to which Woolf’s definition of class is linked to education has not been fully recognized (187-89). R achel is one of the “uneducated daughters of educated men.” The image of womanhood promoted to the young Rachel is passive and typically Victor ian, positioning women as secondary to men and as unquestioningly expected to enter the marriage market. What Rachel begins to recognize as the novel progresses is that the marriage market is intimately connected to maintaining the British Empire. In fact, she begi ns to see class, in Hennessy’s terms, as a set of social relations that undergird capitalism. In Chap ter Two, Rachel muses upon the image of a ship as bride: “a virgin unknown of men; in her vigor and purity she might be likened to all beautiful things, for as a ship she had a life of her own” ( TVO 25). The last phrase is reminiscent of Woolf’s later A Room of One’s Own, which urges social reform so that women can obtain the economic inde pendence to sustain intellectual integrity. Rachel clearly identifie s with the bridal ship image and with the idea of voyaging forth to discover herself and the larger world. The Dalloways who board the ship, bringing goods back to Britain, embody the intersection of politics with business. However, Woolf’s recognition of the braiding of class, gender, capitalism and patriarchy is relatively submerged in this early novel. An old family servant on board, Mrs. Chailey, is instantly recognizable as a member of the “lower orders” by her discreet manner of moving and her “sober black dress”; later Woolf would criticize th e use of class markers, as in he r essay, “The Niece of an Earl,” for easy character recognition by novelists of the past. In her early work especially, Woolf retains a solid footing in the past a nd exhibits the influence of her reading of Greek and Roman literature, as well as canoni cal British literature. Here Mrs. Chailey,

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97 who treasures a picture of her former mistress, is criticized roundly for daring to request a room further away from the shipÂ’s noisy boiler room, an incident followed by HelenÂ’s bursting in to demand assistance and referring to Mrs. Chailey simply by her last name ( TVO 21-23). The portrait of Mrs. Chaile y is empathetic and well-developed, contradicting accusations that all of WoolfÂ’s servants in her fiction are shadowy. Nonetheless, both Helen and Mrs. Chailey are satirized, as is the functioning of servants within the class system. Mark Hussey calls attention to WoolfÂ’s claim that satire was easy for the English because of strict class divisi ons, but different for Dostoevsky and other Russians because they lacked a strong a sense of class and so displayed more empathy for characters (244-45). Woolf is a brilliant sa tirist and the full impor t of her generally Horatian style has yet to be recognized. Howeve r, it is the nature of satire to boomerang, so there are times when Woolf is catapulted backward by her own att ack. Only later does she recognize the dual ac tion of her own technique. Woolf uses satire in her fiction to demonstrate that a strict sense of class c onstricts the development of the individual, hampers communication, and causes alienation; still, her very demonstration sometimes reveals her own weaknesses as well. On many occasions in the novel Rach el reflects upon the importance of silence and the mysteries it contains, and her musing s uggests the predicamen t of women who are unrepresented in the dominant male discourse. At one point Terence, RachelÂ’s would-be lover and possible future husband, famously d eclares his desire to write a novel about nothing but silence. What is underscored by this theme is at once the difficulty of representing female reality in male language and the difficulty of representing any reality in words which cannot fully contain its my stery. Rachel and Terence engage in a

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98 philosophical discussion of th e nature of language which, for a contemporary reader, may evoke Lacan’s work. But theirs is not always a direct discussion; there are hints from Rachel about the inadequacy of language, not all of which are comprehended by Terence, despite his love for Rachel. He, in fact, be rates her later in the novel (Chapter 22) for having no respect for the fact s or the truth, for she is “essentially feminine” ( TVO 278). Much like society in general at this time, Te rence continues to essentialize women as an undifferentiated class, and to relegate them to a lower intellectual realm. Class affects one’s language and perception of the world; to Terence and to all the males in The Voyage Out women actually use a different ki nd language, one which is vague and flimsy compared to that of men. Rachel concludes that neith er she nor her sisters will ever be able to communicate fully the trut h of their lives. In Chapter Two, Rachel, musing on her life growing up with her aunts in Richmond, overhears one aunt speaking to another about a servant bei ng expected to brush the stairs at half past ten in the morning: “suddenly as her aunt spoke the whol e system in which they lived had appeared before her eyes as something quite unfamiliar and inexplicable” ( TVO 28). Woolf does not allow Rachel to directly criticize the entire British system of class-inflected patriarchy. At this point Woolf was s till dependent upon even family members (ironically, her Duckworth half-brother) in order to get her manuscript of this novel published. She may not have felt that she could a fford to be harshly critical of a system she hoped to use in hopes of reforming it. She addresses these ma tters obliquely and under the guise of a nave, uneducated, and mild-mannered heroine who can be excused for certain “misinterpretations.” Is Rachel a reliable narrator of her own experience? The matter is more complicated when one looks closel y at the gaps and silences in the novel.

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99 Linden Peach suggests that an important i ssue in Woolf studies is the type of critical approach required by her techniques, particular ly because she omits or treats many major historical events indirectly. Peach asserts that readers must adopt a cryptanalytical mode to focus upon what is hidden or almost hidden in a Woolf text: “Her fiction explores how the distorted and distorting so cial narratives that impinge on and determine individual lives are embedded in, and legitimated by, the co dified nature of the social and cultural environment” (193). To Peach, Woolf anticip ates Foucault in questioning the “already said” and what is allowed to be said in domi nant social discourse. In Foucault’s idea of discursive formation, only certain statements are granted legitimacy because of the intimate connections between discourse and pow er. Like Foucault, Woolf recognizes that discursive formation is related to wider syst ems of power. Woolf’s fi ction exhibits two of Foucault’s ideas about the “archive,” or statement domain, comprising British culture: 1) it cannot be completely excavated, and 2) it erupts at different levels and only in a fragmentary manner (Peach 193-95).22 To Peach, Woolf was ahead of her time in this regard, and critics have yet to appreciate and adequately analyze her approach. Peach’s application of Foucault to Wool f’s 1930s texts is also relevant to her early fiction, which presents more embedded fragments and a less sophisticated articula tion of discursive formations that Woolf was just starting to examine more closely. David Bradshaw calls a ttention to the profus ion of both circular imagery and a related series of references to Piccadilly Circle a nd prostitutes in connection with genteel women in the novel, suggesting that Woolf connects this imagery with th e “oppressive noose of patriarchy” which encircles all British women (“The Socio-Political” 193). The imagery of circles meshes with an idea I mentioned earlier about Woolf’s conception of class as

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100 similar to Venn diagrams that intersect and overlap with each other. The core shared element in this Venn structure is the simple fact of being a woman and thus affected in similar, important ways by the dominant system of discourse. Other notable examples of circularity not elaborated by Bradshaw in The Voyage Out are the stirring of the tea round and round to symbolize the union of two minds in the novel (48), papers flying in circles just before Richard Dalloway unexpectedly ki sses Rachel (65), th e Piccadilly Circle prostitutes (72), the circle of female hens discussed by Terence Hewet and St John Hirst (97), the concept of bubbles or round auras that people canno t see around each other (98), ladies physically circling in vague fashion in the Santa Marina hotel (101): all of these images and more reinforce the idea that R achel and other women in the novel are unable to escape the ideological discou rse that surrounds them and shapes their future. There is good reason for Rachel to feel dizzy as she sp ins in a social and cu ltural environment so codified and embedded that she is only beginn ing to recognize its systemic nature. That, perhaps, is the most important insight sh e gains in this voyage of discovery. Like London, which often conceals its grim industrial underbelly, this bridal ship sails upon a sea covering over skeletal ruins of shipwrecked vessels in an Empire that glorifies one male-dominated “class” at the expense of others. The issue of class comes to the fore in one of Rachel’s first conversations with politician Richard Dalloway, who explains that his ideal for th e world is “‘Unity of aim, of dominion, of progress. The dispersion of th e best ideas over the greatest area’”(55). A vast British colonizing plan would be another way of summing up Dalloway’s loftysounding goal. Of course, it quickly becomes clear to Rachel that the people who decide what the best ideas are happen to be men. Richard Dalloway, in fact, does not permit his

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101 wife to discuss politics, for he believes that one cannot both fight in the world of politics and maintain one’s ideals. He is proud to sa y that he has bettered working conditions for thousands of girls in Lancashire because of reforms in factor ies. Rachel owns up to never having set foot inside a factory and indeed re alizes that she knows nothing about the “real world.” Richard suggests that she conceive of the world as a giant whole where every citizen is part of the machine: ‘I can conceive no more exalted aim—to be the citizen of the Empire. Look at it in this way, Miss Vinrace; conceive the state as a complicated machine; we citizens are parts of that machine; some fulfil mo re important duties; others (perhaps I am one of them) serve only to connect so me obscure parts of the mechanism, concealed from the public eye. Yet if the meanest screw fails in its task, the proper working of the whole is imperiled.’ It was impossible to combine the image of a lean black widow, gazing out of her window, and longing for some one to talk to, with the image of a vast machine, such as one sees at South Kensingto n, thumping, thumping, thumping. The attempt at communication had been a failure. ( TVO 57) Rachel says she cannot see a personal connec tion between real people like the widow and the large, impersonal mechanisms of industrialized society. Sh e therefore states that she and Richard do not understand one another, wh ereupon Richard angers her with another statement: “Well, then; no woman has what I may call the political instinct” ( TVO 58). Woolf herself reveals a keen political ins tinct in presenting this seemingly innocuous scene of a pompous, public man and an uneducat ed girl inquiring a bout the relationship

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102 between Britain’s thriving empire and the sad lot and labor of the poor. Again, Woolf places damning social criticism in the mouth of a nave young girl. Richard then makes a startling statemen t as he discusses his ear ly childhood: “‘It’s a fallacy to think that childre n are happy. They’re not; they ’re unhappy. I’ve never suffered so much as I did when I was a child’” (59) Ironically, Richard’s revelation precedes by moments a shocking experience about to occur for Rachel, one which Richard initiates. Shortly after the discussion of politics, Rachel and Richard literally bump into each other near her cabin room during a storm. When Richard Dalloway rhapsodizes about how vast and wonderful the modern world is, he asks why it is that human beings have only one life to live instead of ten and asks about Rachel’s life plans. Rachel simply replies, “You see, I’m a woman’” (66), fo r she knows that she has many fewer choices than Richard and most other men. Richard repl ies that as a woman she has “inestimable power--for good or for evil” and she has beauty ( TVO 66). As the ship suddenly lurches, a pivotal scene of the novel follows: Rachel fell slightly forward. Richard took her in his arms and kissed her. Holding her tight, he kissed her passi onately, so that she felt th e hardness of his body and the roughness of his cheek imprinted upon hers She fell back in her chair, with tremendous beats of the heart, each of wh ich sent black waves across her eyes. He clasped his forehead in his hands. ‘You tempt me,’ he said. The tone of hi s voice was terrifying. He seemed choked in fight. They were both trembling. Rach el stood up and went. Her head was cold, her knees shaking, and the physical pain of the emotion was so great that she could only keep herself moving above the great l eaps of her heart. She leant upon the rail

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103 of the ship, and gradually ceased to f eel, for a chill of body and mind crept over her. Far out between the waves little black and white seabirds were riding. Rising and falling with smooth and graceful moveme nts in the hollows of the waves they seemed singularly detached and unconcerned. ( TVO 66-67) Richard’s actions represent an uninvited and abrupt bodily colonization of Rachel which provokes intense, frightening emotions in her. In contrast, the object ive world of nature seems admirable to Rachel in its detachment from her waves of emotional experience. Nonetheless she later recalls feeling “a strange exultation” ( TVO 67), as if something wonderful had happened. Some Woolf critic s seem to forget the exultation Rachel expresses, for they concentrate chiefly upon wh at a frightening experience this was for Rachel. Perhaps this is because Rachel s oon after experiences he r famous dream of walking down a long tunnel to a vault where sh e is trapped “with a little deformed man who squatted on the floor gibbering, with long na ils. His face was pitted and like the face of an animal” (68). She then feels compelle d to lock her cabin door because she feels pursued by a moaning voice and desiring eyes, as “All night long barb arian men harassed the ship; they came scuffling down the passage s, and stopped to snu ffle at her door” (68). The word “snuffle” suggests the pig imagery so metimes used by Vanessa and Virginia in connection with the unwanted advances of their half-bro thers, Gerald and George Duckworth. In the dream of the gibbering old ma n, is Woolf drawing upon her own fears as she suffers mental breakdown during the course of writing this first novel? Rachel reveals characteristics of a trauma victim: trepid ation, spaciness, frequent moments of silent withdrawal. Or is Woolf, refl ecting her era’s interest in e ugenics, using this image in

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104 Rachel’s dream to evoke the mentally ill in general as primitives who deserve to be locked away or even euthanized (like Laura, Virginia’s institutionalized half-sister)? The dream will be repeated in this novel and in various forms in other works of Woolf’s, suggesting its psychic importance to her. On e example is Rose’s dream as a child in The Years of a pock-marked man shuffling in the hall, with his hand on the door as she lies in bed in the night nursery, and with a face “hanging close to her as if it dangled with a bit of string” ( The Years 39-40). Rose has previously been traumatized by a strange man making mewing noises and sucking his lips in an d out as he unbuttons his clothes when she is alone on her way home at night. Sh e rushed home, making noise in hopes that someone would talk with her, but “n obody heard her. The hall was empty” ( The Years 29). Woolf’s own experience of sexual trauma is evident in little episodes and scenes in many of her novels; often thes e scenes involve some prim al, surreal sub-category of human being. Is Woolf also suggesting that a physic al relationship with a man is both wonderful and terrifying? Rachel’s fright does not seem to reside heavily in the fact that Richard is married and a man old enough to be her father; rather, it seems to derive from the very fact of the physical and unexpected intens ity of the kiss and embrace. A nave girl untutored in the ways of the world, perhaps R achel is simply shocked at her first close encounter with male sexuality. She has become a virgin ship embraced by the sea and all of its mystery and ambiguity. Yet as Louise DeSalvo reminds us, Woolf’s first version of Rachel as Cynthia depicts a somewhat stronger Everywoman figure—though one who nonetheless also dies because of her societ y’s misogyny (xxxi, xxxix-xl ). Perhaps Woolf is also covertly satirizing the entire stereotype of a v acuous, uneducated, young Victorian

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105 woman in The Voyage Out more extensively than might appear on a curs ory reading. On the surface, Rachel’s story of “coming out” to the ways of the world seems innocent enough. At this early stage in her career, a nd as an unpublished novelist, Woolf could not afford to become the “hyena in petticoats” that Mary Wollstonecraft was called after the publication of A Vindication of the Rights of Women Unequivocal criticism of the English social system is also evident, but it is generally articulated by male characters. The difference is in the tone and extent of the satire. Later, in Three Guineas Woolf joins the ranks of social critics like Wollstonecraft; however, in The Voyage Out she often disguises calls for radical reform in a veil of politeness, modesty, and humor. The donkey/ass wordplay at the picnic on Mont e Rosa and the many hilariously critical descriptions of the money-obsessed guests (such as the pig-like woman described by Helen and St John Hirst at the dance) ma ke Woolf’s point indi rectly. Clearly the preoccupation with acquiring wealth is severely questioned in this novel, especially by Cambridge intellectuals like St John Hirst. The background violence of World Wa r I rears its head in the background on occasion, as when Clarissa Dalloway spots two foreboding warships looking like eyeless beasts of prey. Clarissa’s res ponse is a patriotic “‘Aren’t you glad to be English!’” (60); however, Helen Ambrose offers a pacifist view as the chapter conclude s, stating that it seems as much a mistake to keep soldiers as to keep a zoo, and that people must stop praising the courage of those who die on the battlefield. Helen’s remarks are shocking, but they are presented in an offhand way and reported indirectly, not as dialog. No other characters respond except the marginal Mr. Pe pper with his brief remark that people should stop writing bad poetry a bout courage in war. The rh etoric Woolf employs here

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106 seems deliberately to veil her radi cal criticism. The reader is almost forced to re-read to verify what seems remarkable. What kind of society goes to war and what are its true aims? The violence of war could also be connected with the violence of men toward prostitutes, as evoked in Rachel’s and He len’s discussion about Richard Dalloway’s kiss in the context of an exchange about the Pi ccadilly Square prostitutes. Helen advises Rachel that women must expect risks if they wish to develop friendships with men, at which point Rachel suddenly experiences an epiphany, recognizing for the first time why she was never allowed to walk alone in London: “‘Because men are brutes! I hate men!’” (72). However, Rachel’s outburst is followed by “‘I liked him, and I liked being kissed’” (73). Rachel’s ambivalent feelings here sugge st that she might be as afraid of her own strong passions as of the brutish men who enga ge prostitutes. Ironically, these prostitutes earn their own living and may be economically independent. Varying le vels of class, and their different power options, are apparent here in Rachel’s increasing understanding of British society. She perhaps feels rage that she, uneducated as she is, does not even have the economic clout of a prostitute. When Helen Ambrose writes a long lett er home from Santa Marina a few months later, her tone is condescending as she contrast s Santa Marina with th e now-cold island of England, and she wonders why the English sc ream about politics but scoff at people trying to do good things.“‘When have you ever encouraged a living artist? Or bought his best work? Why are you all so ug ly and so servile? Here th e servants are human beings. They talk to one another as if they were equals. As fa r as I can tell there are no aristocrats,’” Helen writes (86). This radi cal early commentary of Woolf’s is once again veiled, put into the mouth of a character less likely to be identified with Woolf herself

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107 than Rachel is and also presented in the le ss-active form of a letter to which we see no response. Again, some readers might need to look twice to be sure they have read correctly. Helen continues with additional criticism of the English system for noneducation of girls, noting that it is “‘not me rely foolish but criminal’” to bring up young girls with no knowledge of either sexualit y or reproduction (86). To her, the proper education of women would make them equal to men, while retaining their differences. Though placed in the mind and voice of Helen Am brose, these are all views that resonate strongly with Woolf’s own, as we know from her diaries and sketches. Helen is an intriguing mentor for Rachel who deserves further study. Ridley refuses to join Helen and Rach el for an evening jaunt into town because he thinks Rachel vacuous, so Helen takes Rachel out to “see life,” as she calls it. Young women with red flowers behi nd their ears flirt with young men and engage in amorous exchanges. Helen notes approvi ngly that various people in shabby clothes seem very natural and comfortable with themselves, and she notices that Rachel is starting to tan and demonstrating more self-confidence. She then muses upon the fact that this very night there might be a C ourt in chilly England23 with wretched shop girls, men selling postcards, and various aristocr ats displaying the number of footmen they are allowed to have according to the status of their social class. This section of the novel is quite damning of the entire English social system. In effect, Helen recognizes the interpellation of individuals into the ideo logy of a social system in such a thoroughgoing manner that they do not even recognize the system’s co mplete control of their lives. They have completely internalized their society’s exp ectations and believe that they are acting independently when, in fact, they are marione ttes. However, once ag ain the critique is

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108 placed in the mouth of Helen, a woman who has deliberately placed herself somewhat outside the social mainstream. Only one w ho does so can recognize the invidious nature of the British class system. A sub-class of women is represented by the figure of Miss Allan, a “square figure in its manly coat” who repeatedly leaves a so cial gathering in order to “work.” This announcement elicits sympathy from Mrs. Elliot, and from Mrs. Thornbury, who believes that unmarried women earning their livings have the hardest life of a ll. They discuss the fact that such a life is certainly not what women want, for surely having children is the “crown” of a woman’s life (though poor Mrs. Ellio t has never been able to bear children), but Mrs. Thornbury reminds Mrs. Elliot that women now outnumber men in Britain and that the navy is having trouble finding male recruits. She then states, “‘And I have heard young women talk quite openly of--’” only to break off completely and leave the statement provocatively unfinis hed. Perhaps the young women are talking of birth control or of having sex with men outside of marri age. Or is Mrs. Thornbury suggesting that young women are considering lesb ian relationships, or only liv ing their lives as single, working women who will likely remain childl ess? The possible lesbian interpretation is supported by an easy-to-overlook comment on the very next page, where Mrs. Paley, another hotel guest, laughingly remarks upon a tall woman wearing makeup who is “always attended by a shabby female follo wer”: “‘I shouldn’t like to say what she is!’” (106). This interpretation is supported by the response of Mrs. Paley’s niece, Susan, who “blushed, and wondered why her aunt said such things” (107). Throughout this first novel, Woolf indirectly scrutinizes the entire English social system in gender-inflected class terms, particularly its effect upon the lives of the t ypically uneducated daughters of

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109 educated men. By means of Rachel’s voyage and the social critique embedded in the letters, dialog, and thoughts of Helen and other characters, Woolf examines her own options at this point in her young adulthood. Should she marry? Have children? Remain single and have a career? And, God forbid, shoul d she consider living the shameful life of a lesbian? Terence, Rachel’s suitor, contemplates the stream of respectable upper-middle-class English tourists flowing past him at the Sa nta Marina hotel and d ecides that they are mediocre and capable of cruelty.Yet they ar e the very class with money and “to them rather than to others was given the mana gement of the world” (123). He becomes depressed, for these people are the ones who do not appreciate artists who care for life or beauty. Ironically, the indictment is sweeping and elitist in its ow n way, for Terence the novelist and Rachel the musician hold themselves above thes e philistines in a rather supercilious manner, an attitude even more st rongly marked in their friend, St John Hirst. Evelyn M., questioning the gender restrictions of her middle-class lot, exclaims that she wishes she were a man who could raise tr oops and conquer territory. Mr. Perrott is spoken of as “not quite a gentleman,” for he is the son of a Leeds grocer. Irruptions of gendered class difference puncture this section of the novel. Several references are made to Hirst’s concept of invisi ble chalk marks drawn around ev eryone. Hirst mocks Rachel’s limited reading experience, shoc ked that at age twenty-four she has not yet read Gibbon’s six-volume History of the Declin e and Fall of Rome. He openly insults her when he demands, “Have you got a mind or are you like the rest of your sex?”(141). Amazingly, Rachel does not respond until he leaves a nd she is alone, whereupon, “having acquired some of Helen’s words,” she exclaims “Dam n that man!” (141). Surprisingly, Terence

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110 repeats the insult much later in the novel when he accuses her and all women of having little respect for facts. One of Woolf’s chief criticisms of British society and classism in this novel, articulated in much more detail in her later writing, is not only the very limited education given to the daughters of educated men, but also the sense of intellectual and social inferiority that develops as a result of stunted intellectual and emotional growth. Rachel is presented as keenly aware of her shortcomings as a woman, so much so that she stammers, withdraws in silence (though clearly angry), and feel s particularly in the first part of the novel that she must belong to some sub-class of human beings. As Helen’s mentoring begins to in fluence her, however, Rachel grows in selfconfidence and emotional health. She begins to voice her independent thought with more assertiveness, only to realize in the end that it will be quashed by a society which demands a wifely, maternal role. Ironically, He len asks Hirst to teach Rachel how to be authentic, how to express her real feelings rather than hiding them, and Hirst then pontificates upon his belief that books really matter in changing one’s view and that at the present time nothing matters more th an the education of women, for “almost everything was due to education” (150). Some of Woolf’s personal views may have been placed in the mouth of Hirst. They must not be underestimated, for this entire novel is about the re-education of a young woman. It is a point whose nuances, as Naomi Black has observed, have been insufficiently empha sized by some scholars. Woolf redefines class more substantially in terms of educati on or, to some degree, by the potential for and openness to it. I believe she means a kind of openness to learning about life and beauty that Terence discusses in the novel, an openness missing in the complacent English middle class. That is why in her essay enti tled “Middlebrow” she excoriates the smug

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111 middle class and favors the lower classes; she does the same in her essay “Am I a Snob?” She believes that the lower class might actually be better able to think independently— though they are swayed in some ways, too-than those men and women who are more firmly entrenched in the classism of the English system. Of course the novel is also about love and silence and the thi ngs one cannot say. Real love demands authenticity, a quality Rachel believes cannot be found in the codified behavior of British society. Ho w can one learn the truth when one cannot even say what one really feels and believes? To Susan Wa rrington, the solution to her friends’ problems is for all of them to marry at once when they reach Engla nd. Marriage is the end-all and be-all, “the right thing, the only thing” ( 164). Various characters opine about marriage and the mutual attraction of males to female s. Hirst--who sometimes appears to represent pure, disembodied, abstract thought--exclaims th at what he abhors most is the female breast. Strangely, Hewet does not reply to his outburst, for he is absorbed in his own introspection regarding how one figures out how one really feels. He secretly walks to Rachel’s villa at night, shouting poetry and delighting in the sounds of words themselves, murmuring the phrase “dreams a nd realities” over and over. Curiously, “dreams and realities” wa s one of the titles Woolf considered for her subsequent novel, Night and Day The phrase itself is an important one for Woolf in this early period, for she seems obsessed with get ting beneath the surface of conventional talk and behavior to discern the reality of what people really feel and think. Both Rachel and Katharine, the heroines of W oolf’s first two novels, live partially in an unreal dream world and must make an effort to connect with reality. The expected ritual of polite teatime talk--an occupational hazard for the upper middle cla ss, particularly for women—

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112 is frequently depicted in thes e novels as obscuring truth; such also was Woolf’s view as a young woman. In fact, the pretense involved in such social patterns is satirized in the ridiculous, hypocritical gossip of various characters over tea in The Voyage Out. On one occasion at least it is not confined to women, for Mr. Elliot shares juicy details with Mr. Pepper over a game of chess. They are then joined by Mrs. Elliot, who cruelly observes that old Lady Barborough’s infrequent bath ing habits are not noted by many because she insists on wearing puce velvet even in the heat of August. Immediately after, Mr. Flushing looks at the handicrafts of natives of the island displayed in a case for visitors and pronounces them all a “sham.” The reader is tempted to apply this term instead to the un-Christian and hypocritical English tourists. When Evelyn M. asks Terence Hewet’ s advice about her relationship with Alfred Perrott, a conversation ensues about Perrott ’s lower-class upbri nging and delivery of groceries; however, Evelyn is quick to a dd that it doesn’t matter how you’re born if you’ve got the right stuff in you. Class is obviously of prime importance in this novel when two people consider marriage. Evelyn M. is presented as a modern woman who longs for experience of the wider world, who views marriage as confining, and who plans to start a weekly club with clever people in Bloomsbury in order to solve the world’s problems. I believe Evelyn M. represents one aspect of Woolf’s possible future—a character probably partially based on Vanessa —in her quest to decide upon her life’s vocation. Unlike Rachel, Evelyn M. is also quite outspoken, yet Te rence Hewet ends up feeling dissatisfied nonetheless with the fragme ntary nature of their attempts to have an honest discussion of her difficulty in choosing between two suitors.

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113 A larger critique of British class a nd racial superiority is woven into the novel at various points. Helen receives a letter from her brother-in-law, Rach el’s father, in which he mentions wrangling with “wretched little natives who went on strike and refused to load his ships, until he roared English oaths at them” (180). Mrs. Thornbury admires the beautiful things which the coll ector, Mr. Flushing, with the colonialist remark: “I had no notion that the peasants were so artistic” (181). Mrs. Flushing ’s large orange hat plume is another possible colonial marker, for often plumage was obtained for the upper classes from British colonies. At another point Mrs. Thornbury parries Hirst’s attack upon people who do not read the classics with a defense of country folk: “‘These are the people, I feel, among whom Shakespeare will be born if he is ever born again’” (185 ). Shortly after, St John Hirst exclaims, “‘I do adore the ar istocracy!” and “‘They’re so amazingly unscrupulous’” (187). He is referring to Mr s. Flushing’s outrageous behavior in smoking, crossing her legs, and boldly proclaiming that she dislikes anything more than twenty years old. Obviously Woolf is poking fun at a va riety of social conventions and attitudes. When Rachel and Terence discuss the “cu rious silent unrepresent ed life” of women, it is Terence who observes that the man’s view always prevails, and who asserts that one knows nothing about the real lives of women. In fact, he says, “‘Think of a railway train: fifteen carriages for men who want to smoke. Doesn’t it make your blood boil? If I were a woman I’d blow some one’s brains out” (201) Hewet’s analysis of gender differences results in Rachel’s questioning her own acqui escence to her father’s belief in his superiority. She reflects that she was actually more influenced in growing up by her aunts than by her father, for they were the ones w ho created the solid backdrop for family life

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114 with their regular meals, servant work sc hedules, and punctuality. Here Rachel waxes nostalgic for the very world of regularity, convention, and cl ass she has raged against. Terence plans to write a novel entitled Silence, a book about what people (including women) do not say; it is ironic, of course, that as a male he should propose to represent the real feelings of women as well as men! Terence fears that, like Evelyn M., Rachel may never be able to love only one man. R achel, on the other hand, fears that Terence may love only his writing. Terence has an id ea for another novel as well, about a man pushed into telling lies because he is obsesse d with the idea of being a gentleman, which in fact is a level of class he never attains. Terence says however, that he does not see people as having lines of chalk around them, as St John does, but rather as mysteries that defy our ability to judge them with comple te accuracy. Both Terence and Rachel express a strong desire to discover the pattern of truth behind people an d their feelings, Rachel by way of her music and Terence in writing his nov el. They believe this pattern of truth is obscured by the fakery of the English system. Religion is an area of pretense explored extensively in one section of this novel. Sunday observances are satirized in a lengthy scene (Hirst even reads Sappho during the service), and Rachel finds herself critical of religion for the first time in her life. She is en raged that people only pretend to feel what they display as piety. This moment of recogni tion is crucial, for re ligion is part of the ideology undergirding class distincti ons and empire in this novel. Marriage itself continues to be ques tioned by Terence Hewet in particular. He says that single people are more active than marri ed ones and that the married often become smug, their individuality compromised. Evelyn M. extends the gender conversation when she drags Rachel up to her hotel room to fi nish talking, declaring that women are finer

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115 than men and that the finest men are like wo men. She invites Rachel to join her Saturday Club in Bloomsbury, where like-m inded clever people with some sense of social justice could take action, instead of simply talki ng, and stop evils such as the Piccadilly prostitution. When Rachel looks down at the bu shes in the garden below, musing that the spot is where she and Terence spent time together, Evelyn points out an unsavory connection: “‘They kill hens down there” a nd “They cut their heads off with a knife— disgusting!’” The inclusion of this scene may seem odd until the reader remembers the earlier references to hens and women and Rach el’s later delusions when she refers to a woman with a knife who is chopping heads off. Rachel seems to fear that society will figuratively chop her head off and castrate he r—i.e. punish her intellectual activity and independence of mind in declaring unconventiona l views, such as her new lack of belief in God. Evelyn M. also voices unconventional views and seems poised to lead the single life of an adventurer rather than to marr y, but Rachel does not possess Evelyn’s forceful, outgoing personality or stamina. Rachel “ac cidentally” wanders to the kitchen, “the wrong side of hotel life,” and witnesses a ve ry old woman killing and plucking chickens. Fascinated by the blood, the struggle, and th is glimpse of life among the lower orders, Rachel suddenly finds Miss Allan at her side the pitied spinster who has to work to support herself, and accepts her inv itation to go up to her room to talk. It is ironic to see Rachel embarking upon a series of visits to the hotel rooms of women of different states of life in her journey of self-discovery, for the visits are almost like hypothetical Cambridge tutorials on singl e versus married life. Miss Allan’s room is different from Ev elyn’s—free of hairpins, scent-bottles, or silk petticoats; instead, the room is very neat, f eaturing library books and a writing table piled

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116 high with manuscripts. Miss Allan represents yet another model for Rachel, that of the single woman who is also a scholar and a teacher, one who supports herself and can therefore be largely independent in thought and speech. She attracted to the scholarly, writing lifestyle and person of Miss Allan, who quietly encourag es her to try new things, like tasting ginger and twenty-six-year-old cr me de menthe. During this visit Rachel declares her anger toward her own cla ss for its impostors—people like Richard Dalloway, Mr. Bax, the minister, and old Mrs. Paley. An historical connection to early Eli zabethan exploration expos es a nexus of class, race, and empire as backdrop for the specifi c events that follow. The group beginning the trip down the wild river consists of Mr. and Mrs. Flushing, Rachel, Terence, St John, and Helen. As one of a family of thirteen child ren, the irreverent Mrs. Flushing suggests a class-related Darwinian survival of the f ittest. She dares to assert that she hates Shakespeare, and Mr. Flushing states that his wi fe senses the “‘essential superiority of the peasant’” (261). Again, Woolf presents an a lternative to the prevailing view held by British colonizers. The natives met by the group at a village along th e river are glorified by the narrator: one native’ s fit body makes “the Englishman’s body appear ugly and unnatural” (269), and the group is described as “treading cumbrous ly like tight-coated soldiers among these soft, in stinctive people” (269). Ever ywhere the metaphor of the English as stiff, conquering soldiers, formal, full of pretense, and alienated from the body is presented against the bac kdrop of intense natural beauty and instinctive, relaxed humanity. However, nature is also presented as full of real danger and even as a threat to one’s life. St John expresses his belief that the trees themselves could make one go mad (260). Rachel and Terence have gone off alone and declared their love. Subsequently

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117 they feel a prevailing, confus ing sense of unreality and yet also a sense of meaning. Terence feels this is a pattern for life that he finally grasps (282). Rachel strikingly voices the sense of unreality they both feel when sh e asks, “Are we on the deck of a steamer on a river in South America? Am I Rachel, ar e you Terence?” (273). Where are the solid objects in the midst of the cloud of their refreshingly silent love? Rachel, in particular, seems to lose her sense of a discrete self and associates her strong feelings with the churning of the river and the correspondi ng dangers and uncertainties of nature. The connection between language and the ability to connect with another human being is interrogated in the interaction between the lovers. Words suddenly seem “either too trivial or too large” (265). Rachel becomes keen ly aware of a certain element of pain that is part of their happiness and later reflects th at even lovers are separate, never able to know each other’s complete thoughts, for instance. She continues also to be aware of the gap between her feelings and the blank sheet of paper on her writing desk; she asks in a fit of existential angst: “‘Would there ev er be a time when the world was one and indivisible?’” (279). She connect s all of these feelings to another question: “‘Why don’t people write about the things they do feel?’” (281). It is at least partially the pretense and hypocrisy of the upper middle class to which sh e belongs that Rachel is criticizing. The native villagers just encountered on the trip, radically different in race and class, seem more authentic as human beings. Rachel privileges the “lower-class” na tives as more genuine but preserves a radical sense of the Other as also representing the unknown and inhabiting a “natural” space which contains its own dangers. Yet suppos edly the civilized world represented by London (which Terence rhapsodizes about in his musing upon their future life) can be

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118 deadly as well. Rachel asks if women stil l die there with “bug s crawling across their faces” (284). In other words, do terrible econom ic class divisions in London still dictate this manner of death for the poor? Shortly ther eafter, St John reports having received a letter from his mother regarding the suicid e of Susan Jane, her parlor maid. St John shrugs his shoulders as he and Helen ponder why people kill themselves, and Hirst then clearly appears to say (though quotation ma rks are missing around these two lines, a possible but perhaps telling e rror on Woolf’s part): “Why do the lower orders do any of the things they do do? Nobody knows”(289). Hi rst’s comment appears both shamefully dismissive and perhaps a simple admission of the huge lack of understanding of the real lives of the lower classes by the upper and middle classes. Again and again in the novel, the lives of servants erup t into the text : Mrs. Chailey, Susan Jane, the very old woman killing chic kens. This lower-class subtext appears stronger in some ways in The Voyage Out than it does in later novels. A sharper criticism of the social system is implied in a discussion at the hotel about rumors of old Mrs. Paley torturing her maid in private. Discrimina tion is evident when the prostitute, Lola Mendoza, is sniffed out by old Mr. Thornbury an d told to vacate the premises within twenty-four hours. Helen cannot contain her a nger any longer at this news and declares: “‘It’s monstrous. The hypocritical smugness of the English makes my blood boil. A man who’s made a fortune in trade as Mr. Thor nbury has is bound to be twice as bad as any prostitute’” (290). The novel pays minute atte ntion to the English class system and its effects upon individual happiness and the happi ness of the human race as a whole. In particular, the smug, moneyhungry and philistine middle cl ass is roundly trounced.

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119 Evelyn M. might be seen as a model for the single woman in this novel. She is bored with the contentment she sees in the proposed marriages of Rachel and Terence, and of Susan and Arthur, for she sees many more exciti ng things to do in the world as a free, single person. Evelyn is not portrayed simplistic ally, however, for she is also depicted as overly romantic in her well-meaning notions. She wants, for example, to start a club of intellectuals in Bloomsbury who will really get things done, like start a revolution in Russia. Terence scrutinizes Ev elyn, noting the beginning signs of aging in her face, but he sees that “. . she did not pity herself, or feel any desire to exchange her own life for the more refined and orderly lives of peopl e like himself and St. John, although, as the years went by, the fight would become hard er and harder” (304). She is a character reminiscent of Miss Merridew in “[The J ournal of Mistress Joan Martyn].” Mrs. Thornbury voices great confidence in a fu ture with more freedom for young women, whether married or single; she sees marri ed women, for example, already going about and doing many things on their own despite their household cares. Such optimism for the future of young women is contradicted by Rachel’s demise. Her illness seems more than physical in natu re; it appears to be connected to Terence’s plan for them to return to live a conventiona l married life in London. It seems that Rachel has contracted a fever from the jungle trip dow n river into the wilderness, but has also contracted a psychic fever from her encounter with love and all of its physicality, and from her realization that “civilization” en tails the death of th e authentic living (and loving) of the natives enc ountered on the trip. The images associated with her increasingly serious illness and subsequent death are images of women. In Rachel’s feverish brain, Nurse McInnis is connected with the frightening deformed woman (and

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120 later two or more of the same women) in the tunnel under the Thames playing cards ( TVO 312-13), an image repeated in another fo rm in the archetypal “battered woman” singing near the Regents Park Tube station in Mrs. Dalloway ( MD 81). Another female image returns again and again during her fever: that of the very old woman cutting off the heads of chickens with a knife amidst mu ch bloodshed. Why all of these frightening images of older females? Woolf may imagine that her female ancestors, particularly her mother, would not approve of her new heroine. In Virginia Woolf: A Writer’s Life, Lyndall Gordon notes that Rachel represents the submerged woman--as emphasized in the Comus reference to Sabrin a, the virgin who drowns herself and becomes the “Goddess of the silver lake”—and from this scene onward Rachel develops the headache that wi ll prove fatal for her (107). Despite her love for Terence, Rachel realizes that marriage will enmesh her even further in a web of patriarchy that may strangle her best hopes and dreams. Rachel appears to side with Evelyn M. here; however, Rachel does not share Evelyn’s optimism regarding opportunities available to young women who rej ect marriage as a lifestyle. As Gordon points out, Evelyn is also satiri zed as an empire-builder and the kind of feminist who is envious, desiring what men de sire. It is common knowledge today among Woolf scholars that Woolf herself feared women would si mply emulate a male power structure and language. Woolf instead in this novel seem s to value strongly the nurturing, sewing, embroidering material lives of women lik e Helen Ambrose who provide the important support backdrop for family and social life ( 104). Rachel presents an alternative to Evelyn’s definition of what a woman should be but this evocation of gender-inflected class is shrouded in mystery at the end, for R achel enters the absolute muteness of death,

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121 the state of inexpressibility with which Rachel has been shadowed throughout the novel. She finally prematurely enters that ultimate state which knows no race or class. Her classconscious voyage out has become a classless voyage of no return. In the face of Rachel’s deadly illness, St John loses all feeling simply because he feels too much. Dr. Lesage reports having been cal led to verify the death of an old lady of eighty-five by slitting her wrist because of her fear of being buried alive. This irruption into the text of a probable re ference to the old servant whom Rachel observed slicing off the heads of chickens is chilling, as is the reference to the fear of being buried alive—a possible Antigone reference.24 In an interesting class deve lopment, Mrs. Chailey loses a sense of her servant status and talks to the guests “quite familiarly as if she had nursed them and held them naked on her knee. She a ssured them over and ove r again that it was their duty to eat” (331). Again, death is the great class equalizer. Terence also feels different, chiefly very numb and in disbelief regarding Rachel’s condition. He is finally alone with Rachel as she quietly dies and is surprised to find that death means simply ceasing to breathe. He is also surprised to experience deep happiness and a sense of complete union that was impossible while they were alive. Not recognizing whether he merely thinks the words or speaks them aloud, he says, “‘No two people have ever been so happy as we have been. No one has ever loved as we have loved’” (334). Terence’s lines are moving and disturbing to any Woolf scholar who r ecognizes that these are the very words she penned to Leonard in her 1941 suicide note. After Terence leaves Rachel’s bedside, the anguish of living wit hout her penetrates his numbness and causes him to shout her name. In terestingly, the narrator then moves to a description of the moon, which has just been described as tracing its long path upon the

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122 ocean’s waves at the moment of Rachel’s de ath. During the silent hours of the night, the moon’s light “lay almost like a chill white fr ost over the sea and the earth” (335). The curious breathing sound of the night and a strong sense of the objective world are invoked here as well, and then the first sounds of earth as the sun rises: “The first sounds that were heard were little inarticulate cries, the cries, it seemed, of children or of the very poor, of people who were very weak or in pain” (335). The empathetic description almost begs us to heed the cry of the poor, th e vulnerable, and the suffering. As people in Santa Marina awaken, the varied reactions to Rachel’s death also form a commentary on class. Miss Allan, the single woman and scholar for whom Rachel felt a distinct affinity, is informed of Rachel’s death by Mrs. Flushi ng’s maid. Miss Allan is featured is the first person stirring and is among the fi rst to relate the mournful morning ne ws to other hotel guests. Evelyn M. is angry and believes that Rachel died for no good reason; in complete contradiction, Mrs. Thornbury believes that order will prevail and reveal a reason to everyone. In a scene of macabre humor, Arthur is forced to shout the news of Rachel’s death to the deaf, old and rich Mrs. Paley, who gets Rachel mixed up with someone else, blames Rachel’s death on not requesting selzer water instead of local water, and becomes absorbed with helping herself to a dish of potatoes. As the conversation is steered away from the gloom of death, Evelyn M. savagely voices her anger that people don’t want to talk about what really matters—a frequent complaint by Woolf characters in her books. Steering conversation away from controversial matters, such as religion and politics, was an art form practiced and polished in the tr adition of British teatime; Woolf associates such sterility with the repr ession and hypocrisy of British middle and upper-class society.

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123 When an enormous tropical stor m unleashes its force upon Santa Marina with sonorous thunder and powerful lightning, people are frightened at the flashes of harsh light and propelled into disc ussing life and death matters, but poor Mrs. Elliot still does not adequately express the full truth of her sorrow in not being able to have a child. Mr. Flushing believes that it is brav e simply to want to live, a nd Miss Allan expresses a desire to live long enough to know if there is life on Mars. Terence has disappeared, and there is no further reference to him except by Evelyn M., who suggests he may have committed suicide. Mr. Pepper is beaten in his chess ga me at last, and St J ohn, half-asleep in the hotel hall, is conscious of “a procession of objects, black a nd indistinct, the figures of people” (353). Woolf ends this tale of her he roine’s voyage out with a large view of life and an emphasis on the objective world. Rachel has passed away quietly. It is as though her death is merely part of the much larger fabr ic of life in a world of classless objects. It is an echo of Terence Hewet’s earlier expressi on of belief in humanity’s smallness in the face of the immensity and classlessness of the universe. The Voyage Out concludes its exposition of the da maging class structures of empire with hints of Death the levele r and of the insignificance of cl ass in the natural world. It also circles back to th e keynote theme struck by Helen Ambrose upon observing Londoners while on her way to board the Euphrosyne with her husband: She knew how to read the people who were passing her; there were the rich who were running to and from each others’ hous es at this hour; there were the bigoted workers driving in a strai ght line to their offices; th ere were the poor who were unhappy and rightly malignant. Already, t hough there was sunlight in the haze,

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124 tattered old men and wome n were nodding off to sleep upon the seats.When one gave up seeing the beauty that clothed th ings, this was the skeleton beneath.(5) Ripping away the faade of th riving British life, pushing aside the mask of individual performance, trying to discover what people really think and feel: all of these are concerns of RachelÂ’s, but they are also c oncerns of her guardian aunt, Helen, and of Terence. Ironically, Helen stil l does not recognize her own bigotry.The skeleton of death must be recognized beneath th e class divisions that preven t people from knowing each other and from deep, honest relationships. The psychology of feminity as connected to class is depicted in RachelÂ’s recognition and subsequent defiance of her subject positi on as identified by patriarchy and empire. Most young women of RachelÂ’s era did not po ssess symbolic capital except as potential brides. In this novel, the singl e life for a woman is clearly disapproved of by the majority, but Woolf presents its positive values to her heroine.Yet, marriage is presented as perhaps also involving a fright ening dissolution of ego, as in the jungle scene where Rachel alone with Terence seems to lose all sense of herself, and where the theme of mental illness also subtly intrudes. Can a young woman socialized under a patriarchal class system locate and maintain a strong id entity, or is she more prone to emotional dysfunction precisely because of a system that does not permit enough freedom of choice? I believe that in this novel Woolf o ffers a fascinating yet ultimately depressing picture of the effects of contemplating oneÂ’s insertion into patriarchy by means of the state institution of marriage. Furthermore, The Voyage Out reveals WoolfÂ’s understandi ng of a the link between gender, class, and education. Launched upon a journey of self -discovery, Rachel quickly

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125 realizes the deficiencies in her educati on. These deficiencies involve both formal education and knowledge of practical things in life, including sex, that can enhance one’s agency. This situation clearly suggests unfair tr eatment of females, for she is one of the “uneducated daughters of educated men.” As su ch, Rachel recognizes that she actually belongs to a sub-category of her own social class. Words are impor tant, and Woolf takes pains to demonstrate that if you call some thing a certain thing long enough, such as calling a woman inferior, it will be so. The internalization and acceptance of the judgments of powerful social agents enable them to maintain power Only in her later work does Woolf recognize more fully not on ly the complex operation of this powerful naming function of patriarchy and empire, but also its internalization by women. She then connects these elements to war as well.

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126 CHAPTER FOUR “‘But for me I suppose you would recommend marriage?’ said Katharine, with her eyes fixed on the moon. ‘Certainly I should. Not for you only, but for all women. Why, you’re nothing at all without it; you’re only half alive; usin g only half your faculties; you must feel that for yourself.’” Rodney to Katharine in Night and Day (52). CLASS AND “A VAST NEST OF CHINESE BOXES”25: EARLY STORIES AND NIGHT AND DAY A number of Woolf’s short stories from the period 1917-21 advance her thinking on class issues: “The Mark on the Wall” (1917) “Kew Gardens” (1919), “Solid Objects” (1920), and “Lappin and Lapinova” ( published in 1939 but written around 1919, according to Woolf). “The Mark on the Wall” is a fascinating study in epistemology, suggesting exposure to the work of Henri Be rgson, William James, Albert Einstein, and others of her period interested in the nature of perception. Woolf is said to have viewed this story as having a kinship with “Kew Gardens” and “An Unwritten Novel,” stating that these three stories reflect her attempt to shape a new so rt of fiction (Bell 2, 72). The story shows Woolf playing with chronol ogy and radically questioning accepted categories and practices of literature, rigid co mpartmentalization of social classes, and conventional understanding of how “reality” is apprehe nded and labeled. Though gender is not directly specified, clue s suggest that the narrator is female. She sits throughout the story, musing before a fire in “perhaps” Janua ry upon a small, round, black mark of six or seven inches on the white wall above the ma ntelpiece. Many aspects of the narrator’s recollection of her reverie are provisional, as she seems to propose that our labeling of “reality” should be. She speculates upon its origin throughout the story, exclaiming, “Oh! Dear me, the mystery of life! The inaccura cy of thought! The ignorance of humanity”

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127 ( Complete Shorter Fiction 84). She then is led to ponder the rapidity of life and the haphazard nature of things before moving to a description of a strange garden scene reminiscent of “Kew Gardens.” The garden scene suggests an ev entual return to the earth upon death and also suggests th e complete unimportance after death of all the naming and labeling done by humans. As the narrator expr esses a desire to sink deeper and deeper away from the surface, with its “separate facts,” she muses on how we see only the shell of a person in each other, how we look into a mirror as we face each other in omnibuses and underground railways and how novelists of the future will leave out ordinary “realistic” detail and recognize that there are al most infinite reflections of more important inner lives to explore. Cleverly engaging in meta-fictive comment, the narrator notes that her own “generalizations” are worthless, which lead s her to speculate upon the military sound of the word: “Generalizations bring back somehow Sunday in London, Sunday afternoon walks, Sunday luncheons, and also ways of speaking of the dead, clothes, and habits— like the habit of sitting al l together in one room un til a certain hour, although nobody liked it. There was a rule for everything” ( CSF 86). She expresses delight at having discovered that these “real standard things” were only half phantoms, but regrets that these things have been replaced by “the masc uline point of view which governs our lives, which sets the standard, which establishe s Whitaker’s Table of Precedency, which has become, I suppose, since the war half a phantom to many men and women, which soon, one may hope, will be laughed into the dus tbin where the phantoms go . .” ( CSF 86). Here Woolf attacks class issues, damningWhitaker’s Almanack as metonymic for the practice of separating classes of people in so ciety, but she also suggests that women have

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128 been labeled as a sub-class by men. Perhaps men have completely misinterpreted the mark on the wall? In this seemingly innocuous fashion, Woolf challenges the prevailing masculine point of view, with its quick judgmen ts, interest in war, and general propensity for making (as well as interpreting) its mark on the wall of civili zation. In effect, the story’s conclusion argues for a gender-inflect ed definition of women as a sub-class.26 Woolf has made the mark black on a white wall, suggesting that black and white, absolute categories are not always what they seem. She subverts the monolithic category of class here by her emphasis on its gende r inflection. Woolf also employs effective Horatian satire throughout this short story, but particularly wi th her last lines: “Ah, the mark on the wall! It was a snail” ( CSF 89). The two lines constitu te their own paragraph. One might expect that the ex clamation point would occur af ter the second sentence (the “aha” experience of the real th ingness of the mark on the wall), but instead the final sentence could be interpreted as revealing the stereotypically matter-of-fact male point of view in declaring and labeli ng the truth of an experience. It is hum-drum, ho-hum. How could anyone imagine the wild interpretations of the ma rk concocted by our female narrator? Surely the male companion has no idea, for he does not delve beneath the surface as she has done; furthermore, the fema le narrator demonstrates the need for a protective, satiric veil for he r subversive thinking by her low-key statement indicating immediate acquiescence in her male comp anion’s point of view. Little does her companion realize that the next step may be (like Woolf’s) to record her speculations upon what lies under the surface shell of a pe rson, especially a female person whose emotions have left their primeval snail trac e on the blank, white wall of patriarchy. .

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129 Reminiscent of “The Mark on the Wall, ” “Kew Gardens” opens with a garden scene and appears to provide a dramatic glimpse of humans from the perspective of nature itself, or possibly that of the snail (conceivably the very snail of the latter story)—perhaps even a primordial perspective of the world w ith a different conception of time and space. “Kew Gardens” suggests a pointillist painting wi th its repetition of red, blue and yellow colors (among others); its imag es of glass roofs of the palm house looking like an entire market full of shiny green umbrellas; and white butterflies forming the outline of a shattered marble column with their shifting flak es of color. The reader might want to read the story with one hand gripping a paintbrush and a canvas arranged alongside the text that could be splashed with rich color every few sentences in order to render even more solid visuals for the vibrant scenes desc ribed. In another sense, though, the words themselves, and the new perspectives they represent, are the subject and even become the “rain” in a scene featuring two lower middl e class women, where the stout woman avoids listening to the sense of her companion’s word s and simply lets them “fall over her” and looks “through the pattern of falling words at the flowers” ( CSF 95, 93). In a way, “Kew Gardens” is about the inadequacy of words and of old perspectives; thus this aspect also pushes it toward the genre of pa inting and especially the new, experimental painting of the early 1900s. Woolf had published her essay, “Modern Fiction,” (1919) just a month before the publication of this story. In this famous manife sto, she states that “‘Li fe is not a series of gig-lamps symmetrically arranged: life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end” (269).27 Edward L. Bishop emphasizes that this sket ch reveals a sequence of events that is subsidiary to what

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130 he calls the “modulation of emotion” in a care ful pattern of four couples that constitute a cross-section of social classes, ages, and relationships (husband/wi fe, female friends, male companions, lovers); these couples ar e eventually joined with the world of phenomena, dissolving like drops of water in th e atmosphere. He believes that the reader is invited to participate in the atmosphere of the gardens in a highly sensuous manner, “becoming conscious of moving among words, just as the ch aracters do,” and that the story is ultimately about voices and about raising questions a bout the nature of discourse and conventional methods of representing it. Th e reader must be active, for he or she experiences the sensation of one thing merging into anothe r, as in a painting (271-74).28 What does this have to do with classism ? There are at least four connections. For one, a sharp consciousness of class divisions rema ins at the forefront of Woolf’s mind during this early period, especially in the condescending depiction of the two lower class female friends. For another, the merging of these voi ces and scenes, as well as the blending of painting and literary genres, nonetheless in some ways contradicts these very divisions. Furthermore, in this piece Woolf presents a dramatic example of the very ego blending (as in her personality melding with Vane ssa’s, commented on in Woolf’s letters) she experienced in her own life. La stly, the radically different pe rspective of a snail--or of nature defined more broadly, including the flowers, butterflies, trees, and so on-indirectly suggests the same c oncern as that in “The Mark on the Wall.” The concern is that society has been constr ucted as male and needs to be re-viewed from a wholly different angle of vision. Th at angle looks and sounds femini ne in “Kew Gardens.” It is an angle of vision intimately li nked here in content and style to the semiotic language of women posited by Julia Kristeva. The voice that emerges from the many voices of “Kew

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131 Gardens” speaks a desire for a less divisive class society and a radi cal recognition of the voice of women; this recognition would be li ke standing people on their heads in order re-shape the sounds of the world primarily created by men. Perhaps the solution is to shape the world in provisional terms that at le ast reflect both sexes, riding the cusp of perception with full recogniti on of its temporary linguistic representation. Bishop does not emphasize the muted backdrop of war, alluded to especially by the elderly gentleman in the story who claims that because of war, “the spirit matter is rolling between the hills like thunder” ( CSF 92). Nor does he call attention to a related and crucial image at the end of this story. The external narrator begi ns to describe voices breaking the silence, only to realize: But there was no silence; all the time the motor omnibuses were turni ng their wheels and changing their gear; like a vast nest of Chinese boxes all of wrought steel turning ceaselessly one within anot her the city murmured; on the top of which the voices cried aloud and the petals of myriads of flowers flashed their colours into the air. (95) The vast nest of Chinese boxes sugge sts the complicated manner in which grinding industrialization supports empire. A ceaseless, ci rcular enclosure in such a system leads alternate voices (like hers) to finally cry out amid the contex t of nature, which is flashing the vibrant colors of life upon the wrought st eel shaped by men and suggestive of war. Woolf’s concern with revolutionizing narra tive technique results in her increasing consciousness of the need to revolutionize language and society itself. Her narrative techniques, alternate an gle of vision, and stylistic innova tions themselves constitute a radical politics and practice, with thei r own effects upon the common reader and upon

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132 society as a whole, as Toril Moi has argued in Sexual /Textual Politic s: Feminist Literary Theory (1985). Written in 1918 and published in 1920 in The Athenaeum “Solid Objects” is a story that develops Woolf’s earlier references (a s in “Phyllis and Rosamond” in 1906) to her relief that the world consists of “solid objects, ” things independent of her family’s emotional dramas. Woolf’s use of this phrase is intriguing, for at times it suggests the possibility of a completely separate existen ce of objects, something quite different from the objective correlative of Eliot, while at other times it seems indeed to suggest Eliot’s famous concept. Numerous other references to this independent world exist in her fiction. Thomas Caramagno provides insight into this tale of an apparently obsessive-compulsive man, noting that Woolf exhibits characteristics of manic-depressive diso rder, as well as a family history of the illness. In the manic pha se, individuals with th is disorder find their senses of taste, smell, and touch extraordin ary and often experience “intensified sensory perceptions [that] make thei r perceptions or visions seem profoundly meaningful: objects look significant” ( Flight 42). Caramagno cites the case of John Custance, a British manicdepressive who wrote a book about his experiences, published in 1951, in which Custance describes how things looked deeper and more intense and how faces of hospital staff members appeared to glow with a special inner light ( Flight 42). Woolf’s own experience of mania could be the genesis of “Solid Objects,” as well as that of other object-oriented scenes in her fiction. “Solid Ob jects” explores marginalization that hints at both the positive and negative border experiences of the mentally ill. Woolf herself said that some of her best ideas for writing came at times when she was mentally ill. In her introduction to Woolf’s essay, “On Being Ill,” Hermione Lee observes that Woolf

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133 frequently comments upon the creative effect of illness. Woolf says, for example that “‘I believe these illnesses are in my case—how shall I express it ?—partly mystical. Something happens in my mind’” (xiv). One of th ese mystical effects is the ability to step outside “normal” reality to engage a pers pective other than th e dominant ideology of one’s society. The story begins with a mysterious black spot on the beach, observed by an unknown narrator from a distance. Woolf uses a telesc opic spatial technique in this story that reminds us of her long-term proximity to pa inters and their tec hniques of manipulating perspective. The narrator narrows the perspec tive and adjusts what could be a telescope to allow readers to see that the small black spot possesses four legs and is actually comprised of two young men. We gradually ob serve, by way of manner of dress and a particular use of their walki ng sticks that they are likely men of the upper middle class. Eventually we are permitted to overhear their dialog and to discover that they are Charles and John, apparently two young attorneys. The story is strange, for John discovers a smooth piece of green glass in the sandy water, “a full drop of solid matter,” and slip s it into his pocket. Between the discovery and the pocketing of the solid object, the narrat or muses extensively about what the lump of green-tinted glass could be: perhaps a jewe l worn by a “dark Prince ss” as she “listened to the slaves singing as they rowed her ac ross the Bay” or an emerald from a sunken Elizabethan treasure chest. John’s response to th e green glass object is couched in a set of triple parallel statements, which culminate in a set of triple parallel phrases. The almost monosyllabic beginning and the declarative, defi nitive statements create a stereotypically masculine linguistic effect: “It pleased him; it puzzled him; it was so hard, so

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134 concentrated, so definite an object compared with the vague sea and the hazy shore” ( CSF 103). Again, perspective seems to matter, as does the tactile experience of touching something with definite texture and shape. At this point the function of the piece of glass appears to shift to represent an objective correlative for th e feeling that knowledge is dependable, the knowledge of solid things in the universe that are accessible and proximate to the body. The relics of empire are reflected in an imagination which conjures up the dark Princess and her slaves as well as the Elizabethan conquest motif. The narrator then muses upon the impulse of childhood that may have led John to pocket the piece of glass. The impulse is said to derive from the desi re to rescue an object (which could just as well be a pebble on a path) from a life of cold, wet misery for “security upon the nursery mantelpiece,” and from a belief that “the heart of the stone leaps with joy when it sees itself chosen from a million like it.” Again, objects are viewed as having a life pulse and as being able to declare “it was I, I, I!” when they have been rescued by a passerby. Ironically, this childlike impulse to co llect initiates for John a lifetime obsession with collecting discarded objects. He begins poki ng about in the grass and in junk piles, neglects his duties with the law, and eventu ally becomes a recluse who is thought to be deranged. This story perhaps explores the dangers of her own occupation as writer. Woolf may feel that, in her obsession with rescuing the unrecorded lives of the obscure, she herself will become marginalized and even appear mad to her friends, as John finally does to Charles. However, she also questi ons a conventional patriarchal society that overlooks imagination and the lives of c itizens existing in sub-categories along its borders rather than in the social mainstream. In its larger outlines the story as a whole

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135 interrogates the entire frame of reference in which we first encounter Charles and John, planning for their futures in the profession of law. John becomes an outlaw, an outcast, someone alien to his culture because of an obsession constructed in terms of a keen imagination—an obsession that constitutes either sanity or madness, depending on the reader’s frame of reference. It is ultimate ly an obsession with the possibility of vast changes that can occur when one ch anges one’s perspective on life. Providing context for Woolf’s “Solid Objects”—as well as for several of her other stories—Bill Brown invokes Jean Baudrillard’s undoing of the privilege of the subject, and Theodor Adorno’s insistence that, sensation being distinct from cognition, one must acknowledge things outside of the subject/obj ect trajectory. Brown also places this story in the context of Ezra Pound’s and Marcel DuChamp’s 1920s fresh engagement with things as objects worth inves tigating for their intrinsic value. Woolf’s story becomes one not of solid objects, but of fluidity or how things recompose themselves. Material is torn from what Brown calls “instrumentalist teleol ogy” and reinserted into an aesthetic scene that includes references to Britain’s political economy. One related example is a letter to Woolf’s artist/sisterVanessa, where Woolf discusses the difficulty of obtaining paint because of wartime scarcity--without ever mentioning war directly (1-4).29 Brown sees Jacob’s Room as similarly dependent upon the metonymic and symbolic powers of objects, arguing that “Woolf’s poeti cs of space is in fact a poetics of the object” (13). Jacob’s absence is evoked by the lingering presence of an object: his shoes, and the question of what to do w ith them. Brown writes that, re-evaluating the material world seem s to depend on its re-use and on some violence that violates th e coherence of the object. Whereas John imagines this

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136 violence as the act of an angry woman ( hurling a ‘jar or a po t’ out the window), the violence that the story nowhere imag ines but everywhere intimates is the violence of war. (13) In letters and diaries Woolf often comme nted on the scarcities provoked by the war, including that of green glass, which she l oved. The irony is that Britain’s glass had a greenish cast because of the iron in the soil, and Britain’s history of the development of iron as a resource, which Brown details, is connected with its war efforts and with colonial markets (for railroads needed in Af rica, as an example). Woolf portrays John’s fetishism here as an alternative economy. The objects seen from a distance in the beginning of the story assume their solidity and “expose the vagueness of politics,”demonstrating how “utterly pedestrian passions” can be cons trued as “a longing for the fragments of the West not to be reas sembled as they previously had been” (18-22). All of the stories examined by Brown are conc erned with differences in perspective and in language use. The mark on the wall in the story of the same name might not be the snail which a supposedly male companion so defi nitely labels it as being. It might simply represent a fragment of the male point of view much as the fragments in “Solid Objects” and the objects left behind in Jacob’s Room “Lappin and Lapinova” is a short story (published in 1939 in Harpers’ Bazaar but written about 1919) that inte rrogates the intimate relati on between a newly-married couple. The “Lappin” nickname for Ernest the young husband, is a seemingly innocent gesture by his wife. It plays on lapin the French word for rabbit. Lapinova is the nickname for Rosalind, the young wife, who also has a real pet rabbit. Early on in the story Rosalind tells Ernest that he is a wild hunting rabbit, a King Rabbit who makes laws

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137 for all the other rabbits. Ernest is not displeased at this flattery of his male ego. Though Rosalind is complicit in propping up the male ego, Woolf is also satirizing that very expected function of wifehood. However, as the young couple develops the rabbit conceit for themselves and their relationship, the reader begins to realize that Woolf is taking a darker view of some larger issue—here the institution of ma rriage as something akin to a rabbit trap. Some of the early sketches and stories already examined, as well as The Voyage Out focus quite intensely upon a major ch aracter’s gradual realization of the imbrication of marriage in the class structur e of empire. “Lappin and Lapinova” suggests Woolf’s gradual realization of the systemic nature of patr iarchy and gender implications of marriage as its basis. Sim ilar in certain respects to her 1928 piece, “Moments of Being: Slater’s Pins Have No Points,” the stor y suggests that the “protection” of men, particularly in the instituti on of marriage, often involves the concomitant economic and emotional subservience of women. Such subser vience represents loss of control of time (or at least a battle for it), imagination, a nd vision: all essential elements for a serious writer. Rosalind muses in paragraph two that “P erhaps she never would get used to the fact that she was Mrs. Ernest Anybody” and deci des that the name suggests “the Albert Memorial, mahogany sideboards, steel engrav ings of the Prince Consort with his family—her mother-in-law’s dining-room in Porchester Terrace in short” ( A Haunted House 68). The couple laughs happily at Rosali nd’s bestowing of the rabbit nickname upon Ernest, but by the second page of th e story, asks: “But how long does such happiness last? they asked themselves; and each an swered according to his own circumstances” ( AHH 69).30

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138 Rosalind imagines that she and he r husband have become King Lapin and Queen Lapinova of the Lappin tribe. They are opposites with Ernest ruling over the “busy world of rabbits” and she ruling “a desolate, mysterious place, which she ranged mostly by moonlight” ( AHH 71). After their honeymoon, they con tinue this private world, feeling they are almost in a conspiracy against th e rest of the world—the outsider sense Woolf often spoke of sharing with Leonard. They make up rabbit-world stories involving their friends, all the while keeping this private worl d a secret. The perpetua tion of this fantasy appears to be an important survival strate gy for Rosalind, as she wonders how she could ever have lived out the winter without it. For one, there was the golden-wedding celebration of Ernest’s parent s, the Thorburns, a celebration including Ernest’s nine other siblings and their children as well. Echoe s of Virginia Woolf’s discomfiture with Leonard’s large, rambunctious and conventiona l Jewish family abound in this portrait. Rosalind feels that she is “a mere drop” among those gathered in the drawing-room with all the family portraits. “Golden tributes” of cigar boxes, candlesticks, and chains are presented as though to royalty. Rosalind feels that her gift of an eighteenth-century sand caster, once used to sprinkle sand over wet ink, is completely inadequate. It is noteworthy that Rosalind’s gift is relate s to the art of writing. She notic es suddenly that she is not happy with Ernest and that his nose is, after all, quite ramrodstraight, like all the other noses in the family portraits, and it really ne ver twitches, rabbit-like, at all. The dining room takes on a golden cast, but, weari ng her white wedding dress, only Rosalind “peering ahead of her with her prominent eyes seemed insoluble as an icicle” ( AHH 73). Soon she feels that her icicle is being dissolved into nothi ngness and that she will faint. She revives upon hearing a comment about what great breeders the Thorburns are—they

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139 are said to be like rabbits—and suddenly lets her imagination run wild with thoughts of the Thorburns in the roles of poachers and fe rrets. She even imagines her mother-in-law (secretly hated by all of her ch ildren) as a Squire giving emo tional thanks to her children for a “world that ha d ceased to exist” ( AHH 74-75). There is a sudden silence after Rosalin d’s mother-in-law gives these emotional thanks for an (ironically) non-existent world, a si lence followed by Rosalind’s comment: “‘Oh, King Lappin!’ she cried as they went home together in the fog, ‘if your nose hadn’t twitched just at that moment, I should have b een trapped.’” King Lappi n tells her that she is safe, “pressing her paw” ( AHH 75). Now the young wife seems to swing back into happiness, for the earnest King Lappin has once again agreed to play their imaginative game. Two years pass. On the anniversar y of the golden-wedding party, Rosalind is sewing by the fire as Ernest Thorburn comes home from the office one winter’s night. This time he takes at least five minutes to change into King Lappin. That night Rosalind sleeps badly and awakens to feel cold and stiff. She seems to fear that Ernest will no longer play her game. Ernest is snoring, but his nose is not twitching. Once again, Rosalind feels forced to ques tion the status of both her ex istence and her marriage: “Was it possible that he was really Ernest; and that she was really married to Ernest?” A vision of her mother-in-law’s dining room wafts in front of her, and she pictures the shocking sight of herself and Ernest as an old married couple sitt ing under the engravings on their golden-wedding day. This could be a happy o ccasion for some, but Rosalind’s response is: “She could not bear it.” Unab le to sleep, “She lay curled up on her side of the bed, like a hare in its form,” an image I take to be the positioning of the rabbit before the kill (7576). However, the street lamp, combined with the trees outside, crea tes a shadowy forest

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140 on her bedroom ceiling and sets her imagina tion wandering again unt il she feels she is both “hunting, being hunted, hearing the bay of hounds and horns; flying, escaping . until the maid drew the blinds and brought th eir early tea” (76-77). The nameless maid’s services, of course, are taken for granted. The next day Rosalind feels that her body has shrunk and grown hard, with still joints and eyes that “seemed to burst out of her head, like currants in a bun” (77). The rooms seem to have shrunk as well, and naturally, th e first thing she sees upon venturing forth to the Natural History Museum is “a stuffed ha re standing on sham snow with pink glass eyes” (77). Once home, she tries to imagine being alone on a moor and sits “crouched in her chair, with her hands dangling empty, a nd her eyes glazed, like glass eyes, in the firelight. Then there was the crack of a gun . She started as if she had been shot. It was only Ernest, turning his key in the door” (77). Rosalind has imagined herself so strongly as Lapinova that momentarily her ordinary self has been transf ormed into a rabbit—a dead one. She exclaims to Ernest that she has lost Lapinova, only to have him frown at her continued fantasy play. She feels “hands ti ghtening at the back of her neck” as Ernest waits for ten silent seconds, apparently sta nding behind her. “‘Caught in a trap,’ he said, ‘killed.’” Ernest’s response is chilling, for it hint s that he wishes to strangle his silly wife (or at least reflects her fear that he might wi sh to do so). The story’s concluding line, “So that was the end of that marriage” (7 8), leaves the reader to ask why. Are they a young couple who have simp ly grown apart? Certainly Rosalind views conventional marriage as a straitjacket and flin ches at the thought of celebrating a future, stereotypic golden wedding annive rsary like that of the elde r Thorburns. Ernest seems to have fallen into a conventional business m odel of the Victorian husband. But the most

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141 egregious difficulty is that he no longer wants to maintain their private world of imagination. Rosalind may appear extreme in insisting upon their little game, but to her it appears to represent whether or not Ernest wi ll honor her gifts of imagination. Much like Mrs. Ramsay knitting in To the Lighthouse, or Helen Ambrose in The Voyage Out embroidering in between reading about the Reality of Matter or the Nature of Good, women sewing or stitching in Woolf’s fiction often seem to be storytellers looking for coherence in their universe. Rosalind is men tioned as sewing several times in the story. However, she clearly sews (sows) also with her imagination to fashion an alternate playful world in which she and her husband explore each other and their attitudes. The possibility of translating this imagination in to writing is indicated when she presents the Thorburns with the sand caster used to sp rinkle sand over ink. Im mediately she feels it an idiotic gift in this age of blotting paper, a recognition that intensifies her feeling out of place in this family. However, Rosalind is also portrayed as infantile, obsessive, given to extremes. Does not Ernest’s response to her continued imaginative ramblings seem measured and reasonable? Perhaps the stor y is a critique of not only conventional Victorian marriage but also the excesses of an artistic temperament, one which would be inclined to present archaic gifts such as sand casters. The multivalent imagery of rabbits and excess fertility forms a kind of “overtext” that colors the entire story. The Thorburns with their large family, reminiscent of Leonard Woolf’s family, are so described by Rosa lind, who echoes the comment of another woman at the party: “The Thorburns—yes; th ey breed so” (73). Rosalind experiences the family as excessive--in sheer numbers (she f eels like a mere drop of water, like an only child or orphan among them), in exuberance, in the display of material wealth

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142 (appropriately enough, imagery of go ld is prevalent at the golden anniversary party). It is curious and ironic that she chooses to conti nue her fantasy world with Ernest when she seems so repelled by the Thorburns and the pr ospect of a conventional married life, both of which are strongly associated with rabbi ts. Does Rosalind simultaneously desire and fear having children, certainly an expectation of the average married couple? Or does the story suggest that Rosalind desires, much as Woolf did, an alternate marital “breeding” story—one which privileges the progeny of im agination over real children? The narrator states, “Without that world, how, Rosalind wonder ed, that winter could she have lived at all?” (72). Rosalind’s imagination is fertile and vital to her very life. For example, it affords the “moment of being” when she is suddenly able to perc eive the truth behind people, as when she sees that her sister-inlaw is actually much lik e a snoopy, white ferret with pink eyes, busy rooting out other people’s secrets (74). This story, not yet extensively examined in Woolf criticism, reveals Woolf herself as grappling with gender and mar ital concerns enmeshed in class issues. She may have wondered if she could maintain a conventi onal marriage without damaging the possibility of becoming a successful writer, or whether having children would interfere with her career goals. She could be speculating on the ways in which an artist belongs to a category apart from society’s ordinary class st ructure, and whether or not a female artist was different from a male artist in important ways. For instance, female artists might feel greater pressure to marry, for economic re asons if for nothing else. Rosalind feels alienated from the marriage model, and from a Victorian society soiled by the excesses of capitalism. Woolf also may have felt shame over her body and fear of frigidity, much as Rosalind sees herself as an icicle and is re pelled by the sweating and warmth of the huge

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143 Thorburn party. Woolf was str ongly encouraged not to have children upon the advice of her family physician, Leonard, and Vanessa, w ho had dealt with he r bouts of mental illness. Nonetheless, she wrote periodically of her regrets at not having any. Of course, at the time this story was written she could not have known what the future would bring, having been married for only about seven years. She may have been in a kind of “rabbit stew” at that point over ques tions of bearing children and yet maintaining the kind of separate, imaginative life she needed as a writer. WOOLF’S INTERROGATION OF CLASS IN NIGHT AND DAY31 Written about the same time as “Lappin and Lapinova,” Night and Day (1919) raises border and identity questions related to W oolf’s experience of sexual abuse, war, and mental illness. In this novel a subterranean lesbian theme challenges the idea of gender as a “class” and questions whether women themse lves constitute a distinct class. As a childless, married woman inclined toward “S apphism,” Woolf was conscious of a deep contradiction between her desire for radical social reform of class codes and her own complicity (and enjoyment) in maintaining class privileges. As a childless, married woman inclined toward “Sapphism,”sust aining class boundaries may have been a psychological necessity and may have aided Woolf in shaping an identity that enabled her to retain—or at times rega in—her sanity in periods of rupture. On the other hand, Woolf also found at times that class boundaries were exactly what were driving her mad. In Night and Day, Woolf initially employs a fairly ge ntle, Horatian mode of satire to interrogate the rest rictive lifestyles of young men and women engaging in the stillVictorian dance of courtship, marriage, a nd drawing-room civilities. Nonetheless,

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144 Katharine Hilbery retains (like Woolf herself) a solid nostalgia for the past--perhaps as a guarantor of class structures, which a ppear to support the British concept of “civilization.” The tray that brings her cup of tea in the morning, along with her mother’s note stating that she will trav el to Stratford-on-Avon to visit the site of the Bard, is metonymic: the assumption of the continued ma terial support of servants for a privileged lifestyle, the leisure to support contemplation of the great tradition of English literature, and a general involvement with the ideologi cal and practical continuum of the British Empire. However, Katharine H ilbery is in some ways quite unlike the average Victorian young woman, and she engages in behavior that places both her class and her personal identity in question. Her cousin, Cassandra, exclaims in exasperation near the end of the novel: “How queer, how strange, how unlike ot her people you are, Katharine” ( Night and Day 427). Yet, even in this early novel, Woolf se ems to recognize her he roine’s complicity in perpetuating some form of an imperialist wi ll-to-power. Katharine is satirized for her obvious delight in dominating both William and Ralph with her charms—as well as Cassandra, who searches frantically under Kath arine’s scornful eye (she is acknowledged as Cassandra’s intellectual superior) for Macaulay’s History of England so that she can impress William by tea time with her fifteen-minute foray into intellectual life. Katharine is glorified in a moment of possible Woolfian self-satire as anothe r kind of society angel: the savior, the reformer, the independent ar tist whose vision incorporates a mountain in the north of England—a mount ain nonexistent on any map, but which represents a vision possibly linked with that of Lily Briscoe in To the Lighthouse Katharine’s “mountain” is also the serious and solitary place of the ar tist, the “narrow room” of Clarissa Dalloway,

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145 providing the solitude needed for work of the imagination. Though supposedly based upon Vanessa, Katharine periodically reincarnat es instead a Virginia who craves this essential space for her persona l, novel dialectic of class a nd identity, and who recognizes that such freedom depends upon income related to either inherited class wealth or one’s own work (as exemplified by Mary Datchet). Night and Day signals the concentric circles of cl ass, which encompass all of Woolf’s work and could be viewed as a lesson in coordinate geometry presented by its mathematically inclined heroine. The novel pr esents a plot graph of spatial complexity: line tracings of “sta r-crossed” couples crossing str eet after London street, unexpected negative and positive encounters at zoo and home, opposing movement of emotions in scenes with the engaged (then unengaged ) couples, reflectio ns upon the conflicting prospects of married and single life, the di vergent agonies of co mparing suitors, opposing lines of heterosexual and homosexual desire, and the oppositions of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Michael Whitworth’s presentation on “ Night and Day and National Efficiency” at the Thirteenth Annual Conference on Virginia Wool f (6 June 2003) corroborates my sense of the novel as very much an interconnected web. Whitworth points out that prewar Britain was engaged in a major national efficiency debate that emphasized a rational business model for government, the centralization of char itable work, a plan for physical fitness (after the realization that Boer War recruits were often unfit), and st reet straightening and slum demolition. The vision of the state as an interconnected web began to dominate. Streets became more gridlike, and a strong m odel of rationality was endorsed as a means for, among other things, preventing the horror of war. Ironically, Whitworth suggests that

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146 this very emphasis upon rationality may have le d to war. Did Virginia Woolf, writing in this context, perhaps mean to suggest th is very contradiction? If so, Katherine Mansfield’s criticism of Night and Day for ignoring the war becomes less potent.32 “It was a Sunday evening in October, and in common with ma ny other young ladies of her class, Katharine Hilbery was pouring out tea” ( Night and Day 1). In the very first sentence Woolf presents the tradition of t ea and company, striking a chord emblematic of the British upper classes, which will reve rberate throughout this novel. Ralph Denham, pointedly introduced to the reader as a member of a lower class, enters the room full of people “much at their ease, and all launched upon sentences” (2). Katharine, keenly aware of merely pretending to enjoy this requ ired ritual, feels the discord represented in her “sentencing” (in a darker sense) by her soci al class, and by her “class” as a woman, to a birdcage of expectations that constrict her true desires. As Alex Zwerdling notes, Woolf was convinced that a novelist must acknowledge that class di fferences were real and not to be ignored. He quotes E. M. Forster on Woolf: “‘Her snobbery—for she was a snob— has more courage in it than a rrogance. It is connected with her insatiable honesty’”(89). Night and Day might be seen as fleshing out W oolf’s essay “Am I a Snob?” by means of Katharine Hilbery, who strikes a note of duality consonant with the novel’s title. Her inner life does not match her outer life. Secr ecy appears necessary in order to preserve some core of her individual self; she may also be furtive (we discove r later) because of an initially dimly recognized attraction for women, or at least for the life of a permanently single woman—not an option generally sanctioned by her class.

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147 The Hilberys comprise an intellectual ar istocracy, which sees itself as the caretaker of Britain’s cultural past—a fact that both attracts and repels Katharine as she seeks to clarify her vocation in life. Her job has been defined by her family: to help her mother write a biography of her famous grandfat her, the poet Richard Alardyce—a project hopelessly bogged down in an overwhelming ma ss of materials, and one that remains unfinished throughout the novel. Katharine secre tly studies math at night and hides her work, Austen-like, at the sound of a step on the staircase. She professes to have no aptitude for literature and to dislike expressing herself in words—preferring silence and absorption in some vision of her own. Accord ing to Julia Briggs, Katharine’s fantasy visions of taming wild ponies on the American prairies and saving a vast ship in a hurricane seem to come from book scenes infl uenced by masculine ideas of power, and to signal a concern in the novel with issues of dominance a nd subordination (Briggs xxviii). These issues are related to class as well as gender. Although Katharine envies Mary Datche t’s “rooms of her own,” she also plays the role of a dominant female (partially becau se of class difference) in lesbian-nuanced scenes related to Mary. However, Katharine is also able to analy ze her own desire for control of her possible marriage to William Rodney: caring about his happiness but not really loving him may provide for the kind of independence she senses as necessary for her in a marital relationship, if she is to have one at all. Shirley Nelson Garner points out that Night and Day represents a tentative exploration of lesbian love, an issue often disguised in Woolf because of events like the banning of The Well of Loneliness in 1928 (331). Garner also observes that Mrs. Dalloway (1925) contains a more emphatically lesbian-nuanced scene between Sally Seton and Clarissa,

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148 which exactly replicates in its structure the scene where Katharine and Mary meet for the first time. Mrs. Dalloway suggests even more clearly th at lesbian love may threaten heterosexual love (326). Garner also analyzes Katharine’s recognition of the privacy she will lose in marriage, for she is often depict ed as wanting to be away from even Ralph, desiring her own space (330-31). When Katharine attends a gathering at the rooms of Mary Datchet, the suffragist, Woolf sounds more strongly the counterpoint of another “class” or ca tegory: that of the single woman, possibly that of the Sapphist. Although Katharine leaves the meeting with William Rodney, who is soon to become involved in a serious courtship with her, it is not before she inquires about the room in whic h Mary sleeps and regi sters a “momentary flush of pleasure” ( ND 56) in coming perceptibly nearer to another pers on by repeating Mary’s first name four times. Mary and Kathar ine also join each ot her in staring out the window at the moon and ar e linked as “star-gazers”33 by others in the room—an image frequently associated with Katharine. When Mary finds herself affectionately placing a hand on Katharine’s knee for an instant, the read er begins to realize that there is possibly more of a physical spark between the two women than between Katharine and William. Mathematical graphing, webbing, and net imagery pervade th is novel. Although the underlying web seems to be one of class id entity, which inextricably complicates individual identity (both physically and psychically), other enmeshing and related structures are also apparent. Mary Datchet si ts amid her growing p ile of letters at the suffragist center and feels at last that she is in control, that she is the “centre ganglion of a very fine network of nerves which fell over England” and which would eventually emit a “splendid blaze of revolutionary fireworks” ( ND 78). The center’s office equipment and

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149 tactics are presented as operating like spid er webs flung down upon th e torrent of street life below. The suffragist aim of equality is a threat to establis hed class structures. Katharine calls out to Mary later in the novel: “‘Remember I want to belong to your society—remember’” (382). She is repelled by some aspects of the society (such as its shabby material surroundings), but attracted strongly by the sense of vocation, of deeply felt work giving meaning to one’s life, and by the society of Mary herself. Curiously, Katharine leaves her purse behind at Ma ry’s, necessitating a return, whereupon she jingles the coins in her purse and remarks, “‘I think being engaged is very bad for the character’” (183). Her words seem to acknow ledge the class-based commodity exchange system she has recently agreed to in b ecoming engaged to William Rodney. William has also just alluded to Katharine as being Shakespeare’s Rosalind, who in As You Like It is disguised as a boy. Does Woolf then encode Katharine’s unspoken contemplation of an intimate relationship with a woman instead of a man? Are the characters also enmeshed in a cage of heterosexuality? Is not heterose xuality indispensable for the replication of class structures solidly based on Victoria n family life models? Perhaps Katharine’s “turbulent map of the emotions” (351) regi sters a space for unexpressed Sapphist desire. Throughout the novel, various “border crossings ” seem to signify irruptions from the logic of class boundary markers (as when William regularly registers annoyance at Katharine’s lack of conven tional womanly behavior). In some ways Woolf’s webbing technique in this novel is ironi cally similar to Peter Lurie’s description of a computer Web: c ontingent, associative, antiauthoritarian, suggestive of links to other times and even to other starlike worlds, and subversive because of the very structure itself. The traditional, linear happy ending is subverted by

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150 the satiric, mathematical webbi ng structure, where the tech nology of the telephone also lurks in the background as destru ctive of the old order. In Night and Day issues of class become endlessly referential and seem to spir al off to the stars in Derridean fashion. Each one points to another, much like th e web of complicated changes wrought by the new technology of telephone lines featured in the novel. Suddenly anyone who can afford to have a telephone or to place a call can be c onnected to anyone else. Class lines, and the tradition of formality attached to the upper cl asses, are breaking down with the advent of such communication. Mark Hussey asserts that Night and Day was written partially as a response by Virginia to Leonard Woolf’s The Wise Virgins (1914)—a bitter, misogynistic novel revealing the negative effects of conve ntion and class divisions upon heterosexual relations (Hussey 129).34 Hussey points out that a charac ter in this novel, Arthur, is distressed over Camilla’s refusal to play her ex pected role in the social order: “‘What she really wants, only she doesn’t know it, is to be a man; and—damn, damn, damn—she never will be’” (134). Hussey also notes the class-related dis gust with physical demonstration of emotions reflected in le tters exchanged between Lytton Strachey and Leonard and in The Wise Virgins ; he seconds Roger Poole’s clai m that Virginia’s fear of physical sex was related to her expe rience of sexual abuse as a child (132). Hussey additionally highlights class issues related to Leonard’s Jewishness, observing that both novels involve male characters who aspire to (b ut also despise) the social class to which they could gain entry by way of marriage.35 Hermione Lee insists that Woolf resisted being identified as a Sapphist or lesbian because she despised all simplistic categories and delighted in sexual amorphousness and complexity (484-85). Is Night and Day an

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151 early exploration of the turmoil involved in realizing that the categories of class and heterosexuality are inadequate? Woolf wrote Night and Day while recovering from a serious bout of mental illness, and later told Ethel Smyth th at she wrote the novel as an academic exercise, as a kind of protection ag ainst her own insanity, which terrified her ( Letters 4: 231). She may also reveal in this no vel some of the irruptions of emotional imbalance experienced either before or during her recovery. She may have begun to consider herself as part of the category of th e mentally ill. One exam ple of a trigger to a “night” experience not brought to daylight until many years later may be revealed in Katharine’s assertion to Ralph: “‘In fact, there never was a fa mily so unable to take care of itself as ours is. [. .] Once I was left in a field with a bull when I was a baby’” ( ND 247). This odd remark may allude to Woolf’ s early experience of sexual abuse by her Duckworth half-brothers, and her family’s failure to stop it. Hussey observes that the families in both Leonard’s The Wise Virgins and Virginia’s Night and Day are drawn from the Stephen family (129). References abound in Night and Day to Katharine’s frequent habit of being abstracted, withdrawn, and even undemonstr ative regarding emotions (except with Mary Datchet!). She abruptly decides to visit Mary in the middle of the night after she has been musing on the dream nature of life, the world as an an techamber to reality, “as if, lately dead, she heard the living talking” ( ND 373). Later she holds out an empty cup to a visitor, having forgotten to pour tea into it, and then gets dressed to go out, still holding her unfinished bread and butter in her hand. The portrait of Katharine here may reflect Woolf’s own undiagnosed dissociative disorder due to earlier emotional trauma. Dr. Marlene Steinberg, a Harvard-trained ps ychiatrist specializing in tr eatment of trauma victims,

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152 observes that feelings of se paration from reality, of having lost pieces of time, feeling “spacey,” and feelings of impersonality—all experienced by both Katharine and Woolf— are symptoms of trauma (Personal Interview). Hussey references Woolf’s early title for the novel (“Dreams and Realities”) as represen ting Woolf’s scrutiny of the advantages and disadvantages of the unembodied dream world versus the “real” world of heterosexual relations (133).36 Katharine appears alternatel y in this novel as someone strong and yet, ironically, in need of care, someone who periodically is removed (or removes herself) from the real world of f act to a place offering another vision. Is the single life practical for one in clined toward mental illness? Surely Woolf must have speculated about her need for an unconventiona l marriage, much as Katharine does, and may have decided that marriage could be both a personal and a political act. The term “queer” occurs at interesting junctures in the novel. In addition to Cassandra having labeled Katharine as “queer” on seve ral occasions, later when visiting Mary Datchet alone, Katharine describes her own dres s in terms of “the queer look of her blue silk skirt and blue shoes upon the stone” ( ND 375). Cassandra later admits that perhaps William is queer as well, but she makes this remark while looking “with shy devotion at her cousin’s beautiful face” (385), a scene marking her at traction toward Katharine. Hermione Lee observes that “q ueer was certainly a known code word for homosexuality by the 1930s” ( Virginia Woolf 487). Though Night and Day was published in 1919, Woolf easily could have been familiar with the term by that date and did, in fact, use the term in 1927 in telling Vita that “Moments of Being: Slater’s Pins Have No Points” was “‘a nice little story about Sapphism’” (Lee 487). Ralph Denham characterizes marriage as “a very queer business” ( ND 405), a comment perhaps suggestive of Woolf’s speculation

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153 (via Katharine) on the advantages of marri age to a homosexual male—or a relationship with another female—as less complicated a nd more rewarding than the conventional emotional turmoil of heterosexual coupling. Toril Moi and others demonstrate th e manner in which Woolf undermines the notion of a unitary self; I maintain that inevitably Woolf also undermines the notion of a unitary social class.Woolf appears to deconstruct the category of cl ass along several fault lines, suggesting that it may not be simplistically determined by one’s socioeconomic status at birth but may involve gender, education, and ev en health issues. Katharine, for example, anticipates Woolf’s argument in Three Guineas that the daughters of educated men may in some respects be worse off than the daughter s of the poor or relatively poor (like Mary Datchet) who perform honest (and even socially useful) labor and who support themselves. What, then, does the category of class signify for women if they remain essentially dependent upon fathers or brothe rs? For Katharine to have a “house of her own” in practical terms, she must marry; otherwise, she will be trapped as a single woman working interminably on the Alardy ce family biography project. Men in the novel, particularly because they are given oppor tunities for a college education, are not so dependent, even when they are born into a lower class (like Ralph Denham and Leonard Woolf). Granted, a woman could inherit wealt h, but constricting cla ss expectations would still deter her from living alone—and certa inly from living with another woman. Marriage and family life, the crucible for producing more subjects of the British Empire, were certainly the expectations for wome n, negating in many instances the kind of independence that both Kathar ine and Virginia seem to dr eam about. And what about the question of mental illness? Perhaps Woolf r ecognized, after several episodes of mental

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154 breakdown, that she could not easily live alone, that her disability placed her in an additional class of dependency despite her bi rth as a Stephen. I do not suggest that she married Leonard primarily for security, but I do propose that her own experiences of dependency because of her gender, her lack of formal education, and her emotional disability caused her to vi ew the category of class thr ough a kaleidoscopic lens that shifted with circumstance and perspective. Shirley Nelson Garner reports th at the Bloomsbury group, though tolerant of homosexuality, regarded lesbianism with suspicion. Garner quotes Quentin Bell as reporting that Virginia’s good friend, E. M. Fors ter (a homosexual), told Virginia that he “‘thought Sapphism disgusting: partly from c onvention, partly because he disliked that women should be independent of men’” (332) Garner believes that some of Woolf’s evasiveness in portraying lesbianism in Night and Day is related to Woolf’s fear of losing Forster’s good critical opinion or friendship or both; furthermore, Forster’s response to Night and Day was unenthusiastic. Silences in the text may represent sp aces in the web or graph structure of the novel, particularly regarding homosexuality and ment al illness. In several instances, Mary Datchet provocatively fingers the fur on th e edge of Katharine’s skirt, which may function as a kind of border she longs to cros s. Mary is also swept on the “breast of a wave” to tell Katharine that Ralph loves her (291). Shortly th ereafter, Mary and Katharine sit in silence as Mary again fingers the fur on Katharine’s dress. Later Katharine feels lonely and longs to be with Mary Datchet; in doing so, she draws the curtains so that the draperies meet in deep folds in the middle of the window—a possible

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155 psychosexual reference. Does Katharine specu late about whether Sapphists constitute a special “class” of people? Just earlier, Katharine and Rodney have decided not to marry, and Katharine is flooded with Antigone imagery (anticipating Woolf’s la ter, related “novel of fact,” The Years ) as she muses upon a lonely, “sealed aw ay” existence (346). Mary Datchet also reflects Antigone imagery in living an “immured life” in her loneliness, a state she both treasures and fears (289). Perhap s indicative of the deep dual ity theme of the novel, Mrs. Hilbery confides to Katharine that she had once considered naming her “Mary.” The single life chosen by Ma ry is one that both Night and Day and The Voyage Out suggest Woolf herself seriously considered before deciding to marry Leonard. Did Virginia Stephen decide, however, that living alone as a person subject to bouts of mental illness might not be a smart choice? Choosing a marriag e partner on the basis of a larger shared vision (as Ralph and Katharine do) rather than simply upon the basis of sexual compatibility, desire for children, or othe r conventional reasons eventually seems eminently rational in th is novel. It solves the problem of loneliness to a degree: Katharine invites Ralph to share her loneliness in a prof ound sense, for she believes that reality can be apprehended only in loneline ss and that this recognition is a more honest approach to a marital relationship than one based upon conve ntional class expecta tions. Katharine has had her vision of being alone on a mountain in the north of England, the vision of an outsider, a vision subversive of her society’s cl ass structure. Toward the end of the novel, Ralph and Katharine are finally alone at the bottom of the house, “which rose, story upon story, upon the top of them” (445)—a curi ous inversion of an image for a new relationship for “The Third Generation,” anothe r early title for this novel (Briggs xiii),

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156 and one suggesting a new foundation for the “hou se” of civilization that Woolf seems to be trying to preserve yet modernize, in Night and Day

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157 CHAPTER FIVE “She would not say of any one in the world now that they were this or were that. She felt very young; at the same time unspeakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everythin g; at the same time was outside, looking on. She had a perpetual sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of being out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerou s to live even one day.” —Clarissa in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (New York: Harcourt, [1925]1990, p. 8). “The corruption of language is war’s first casualty.” --Jane Marcus in “Corpus/Corps/Corpse: Writing the Body in/at War.” In Arms and the Woman: Wa r,Gender, and Literary Representation. Ed. Helen M.Cooper, Adrienne Auslander Munich and Susan Merrill Squier. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1989. “THAT ANTEDILUVIAN TOPIC”: FEMI NISM, GENDER, AND CLASS IN MRS. DALLOWAY Mark Hussey observes that in the past several decades Mrs. Dalloway’s (1925) social critique, the intent of which Woolf was clear about in her diary, has been foregrounded in discussions of the novel. Critics such as Susan Merrill Squier, Suzette Henke, and Lee R. Edwards focus upon the novel’s inve stigation of the roots of war and sexual oppression in modern London’s sexually polar ized society. Henke calls Mrs. Dalloway a feminist and socialist critique of patriarc hy--a social satire employing ironic patterns of mythic reference, such as that of the scapegoat. Edwards views the topic of individual isolation in terms of a larger sociopolitical fram ework and believes that critics have often overlooked the scope of the novel (Hussey 177). Other critics, such as Pamela Caughie, Makiko Minow-Pinkney, Jane Marcus, and Pa tricia Laurence, examine postmodern concerns regarding subject formation and the far-reaching effects of the social construction of “truths” about gender relations in the novel.

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158 Previously Woolf’s aim of showing the British class system at its worst was largely unrecognized except by two critics: Alex Zwerdling and Kathar ine C. Hill. Hill seconds Zwerdling’s views and provides insight into the sociologic al underpinnings of Leslie Stephen’s literary theories and their influence on Woolf.37 I propose that the chief reason for earlier misinterpretations has been the ve il Woolf throws the harshness of her social criticism by portraying Mrs. Da lloway as a pleasant, attractive, likeable socialite simply trying to do her best in her ro le as an established Westmi nster hostess. Clarissa evokes sympathy from the reader as she struggles w ith Bourton memories of lost love(s), and rallies against the beginning of menopause and its hints of old age and eventual death. However, closer examination reveals that Clarissa is herself satirized and often trivialized. Critical tradition holds that she is modeled after society hostess Kitty Maxse, whose death around the time W oolf wrote the novel was thou ght to be a suicide (Lee 160-61). Woolf also wrote in her notes for the novel that she wanted Septimus’madness connected to the horror of war and that she planned for Septimus to be “partly me” (Lee 459). In a 1925 letter to Gera ld Brenan, Woolf declares “A nd I certainly did mean—that Septimus and Mrs. Dalloway should be entirely dependent on each other” ( L 3 189).This biographical information provides an intr iguing context for Septimus’ suicide and Woolf’s initial idea of having Cl arissa herself commit suicide. Clarissa also represents a striking example of Woolfian se lf-critique (a realization that she is “framed by the text she frames”); it is almost as if Woolf imagin es what might have happened if Leonard had served in Parliament as Richard Dalloway did, or what might have happened if she had never married and Leslie not died when he did.

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159 On another level, the novel seems emblematic of Marianne DeKoven’s idea of modernist indeterminacy as an unresolved contradiction, for W oolf herself adored parties, much as Clarissa does. Hermoine Lee, one of Woolf’s most highly-re spected biographers, provides an entire chapter about parties, st ating that “The lure of solitude, anonymity, countryside, reading, creating, pulled against the desire fo r fame, society, money, gossip, parties, and involvements. There was no resolutio n to the conflict” (448). It is easy to observe this push and pull in Woolf’s diaries and letters. Woolf was born and bred into a certain social role, actively rejecting it w ith difficulty even as she proudly claimed her right to solitude and the life of a writer.Woolf’s self-critique in Mrs. Dalloway is palpable once the reader steps back—much as in atte mpting to apprehend the larger pattern of figures and objects in a pointil list painting—and grasps th e manner in which Clarissa, Septimus, and Peter are all the effects of a seemingly benevolent but ultimately deleterious social system. Clarissa, delightful in many ways, must be judged as culpable for some aspects of her “hostessing,” for she enables not only the pos itive, but also the harmful operations of Empire. Thus she should actually blame herself to some extent for even “those poor girls in Piccadilly”; ironical ly, she does not, but blames Peter instead ( MD 73). Her misrecognition speaks loudly of th e difficulty of realizing one’s own interpellation into a social system. Yet it does not excuse her lack of personal involvement to effect social change and, despite her marri age to Richard, her ultimate escape to the solitude of her narrow room where, unlike Woolf herself, Clarissa does not engage in the productive life of a writer. The past decade has seen a proliferat ion of political criticism specifically about war and its relation to class issues in Woolf’s fiction.38 I would like to demonstrate the deep

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160 connection between war and soci al class as explored in th is novel, a connection also providing vital background fo r Woolf’s later work in To the Lighthouse (1927) and The Years (1937). The buried discussion of war’s deep relationship to social class in Mrs. Dalloway later erupts into overt critique in Three Guineas (1938). In Mrs. Dalloway a personal “war” on the part of Clarissa and Septimus, in pa rticular, resonates with the large-scale ideological war waged in defense of World War I, and also with the concept of war in general.Woolf recognizes that pow er is a form of warlike domination that operates in a web of structures accepted as “nat ural.” Foucault believes that power as a generalized form of war can also assume the form of peace waged by the state. He states in an interview: Isn’t power simply a form of warlik e domination? Shouldn’t one therefore conceive all problems of power in terms of relations of war? Isn’t power a sort of generalized war which assumes at particul ar moments the forms of peace and the state? Peace would then be a form of wa r, and the state a means of waging it. ( Power/Knowledge 65) Woolf arrives at a similar conclusion, laying bare the invisible underpinnings of war as she unpacks the layers of ideology operativ e in the class-dominated lives of her characters. Woolf excavates ideological connec tions between patriarchy, class, and war in Mrs. Dalloway. In fact, close textual analysis shows th at ideology plays a larger role than previously recognized in the st aging of the characters’ materi al lives. Woolf also raises related epistemological questions regardi ng truth and the definition of madness that resonate with the work of Foucault and ot her theorists on the linkages between ideology,

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161 power, and desire. I will show a connection be tween these epistemological concerns and Woolf’s gender-nuanced view of the construction of social classes and their functioning as pieces of the human puzzle of war--as well as to Woolf’s recognition of her stake in her own class interest. I will also discuss Woolf’s psychology of class in terms of her fear of a dissolution of ego boundari es associated with social di visions. Her treatment of the character of Septimus amply ma nifests this psychology of cla ss, as does her treatment of Clarissa. Foucault’s concept of war operating in the form of “peace” is especially applicable to Mrs. Dalloway for the novel’s setting is the afterm ath of war. This aftermath showcases the shell-shocked veteran, Septimus, and Clari ssa as another kind of veteran--a survivor of illness and gender discrimination in her society, as well as someone more indirectly affected by the war experience. Foucault also illuminates the politics of sexuality, and he emphasizes the need for power structures to gain access to bodies in everyday life via reproduction ( Power/Knowledge 66-67). An illustration in the novel of Foucault’s point: Clarissa’s friend, Sally, who kissed her years ago in a mo ment hinting at passionate lesbian inclinations, finally succumbs to th e dominant social system, marries, and raises five boys. Clarissa’s shock at this news ma y indicate the childless Woolf’s criticism of a social system that reproduces citizens for the purpose of war and domination. Clarissa, however, though at times keenly aware of her own capitulation, fails to appreciate fully the extent of her par ticipation in problematic social structures. Woolf had personal reasons to be concer ned both with the reality of war and discourse concerning it. In 1915, she was deeply sadde ned by the death of poet Rupert Brooke, whom she knew well and who had become an icon of young British men lost in war

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162 (Hussey 127). In 1922 she wrote Jacob’s Room a novel based upon the strong residual undercurrent of the 1914-18 war and the ghostl y character of Jacob. Jacob’s character was widely acknowledged to be modeled afte r Woolf’s brother, T hoby Stephen, who died suddenly in 1906 at age 26 after a trip to Gr eece (Hussey 272). Woolf was haunted by the specter of war and death for much of her life.39 She was particularly concerned with militaristic paradigms of world order manifest ed in linguistic discourse (as featured on the radio, in speeches and publications) and in gender relations. Metaphorically and psychologically, Mrs. Dalloway paves the way for Woolf’s later works dealing with war. A prelude to treatment of war issues in Mrs. Dalloway is Woolf’s first explicitly warbased novel, Jacob’s Room an experimental work that interrogates issues of biography and epistemology in the contex t of the violence of war as visited upon a young male. In Mrs. Dalloway however, we see Woolf as a feminist researcher excavating the rubble of war in society’s psyche via a female protagonist and a male protagonist; here Woolf unearths the disturbing images, questionabl e linguistic constructions, and faulty patriarchal paradigms that lead her to the direct outrage expressed in Three Guineas and to the still partially-veiled satire of The Years (the two texts were or iginally conceived as a single “novel-essay”). Woolf interrogates he rself as writer, as well as her central characters, in her quest to provide a ki nd of emotional ethnography of individuals affected by war. She sees war in broad te rms as including violence against feminist identity (because war is inherently patriarchal, as Woolf interprets it ), linguistic violence against objective “reality,” and violence against the human psyche that can lead to serious mental illness. Woolf is really talking about the same ISAs (Ideological State Apparatuses) as Althusser, who argues that we are all ideologically interpellated through

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163 such institutions as education, religion, and the family (Alt husser 136-37). To Althusser, we are always already subjects hailed in or recruited by ideology in multiple ways (16263). Woolf recognizes the same categorical viol ence in the social divi sions of her society and in the subtle, web-like workings of power extending far beyond the state. For Clarissa Dalloway, the tentacles of power ar e revealed in gender/class relations between men and women, particularly in marriage, and in gendered relati ons between women. There is, in fact, some evidence that Woolf originally included more explicit lesbian references in the relationship between Sally and Clarissa (Henke qtd. in Hussey, Virginia Woolf A toZ 176). Her awareness of the powerful constricting forces of ideology may have been the reason for the elision of such references in her final manuscript. Woolf periodically hints at a view of lesbians as a repressed “cl ass” of their own, one which, ironically, cuts across traditional class lines ju st as the “class” of women does. Again, as Max Weber and others emphasize, the category of class is famously subject to shifting and slippage. It also involves repressed, submerged elements. Lesbianism was one of those elements in Woolf’s era. Woolf instructs us in he r introduction to th e 1928 edition of Mrs. Dalloway that Septimus Warren Smith is the double of Mrs. Dalloway. When the news of Septimus’s death is brought to her sparkling party, Mr s. Dalloway intuits that their fates are connected. Shell-shocked and broken, Septimus is a continual reminder of the waste of war. Karen Levenback points out that Woolf knew of the government’s reports of shellshocked veterans and that she may have mode led Septimus after Philip Woolf, Leonard’s brother. Philip had enlisted early and also witnessed the death of another brother in the war. In Mrs. Dalloway, the use of hyperbole, litotes, a nd non sequiturs suggests an ironic

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164 distancing and a distinctive narrative treatment of Septimus that differs from that of other characters. As Levenback also notes, at this time Woolf was reading Freud on the issue of the denial of death and repres sion; in addition, Freud was c oncurrently being published in England by the Woolfs’own Hogarth Press (5256). An example of the characterization of Septimus as distin ctive is the passage de tailing his response to Rezia’s announcement in Regents Park that “It is time,” meaning time for his appointment with the doctor: The word ‘time’ split its husk; poured its rich es over him; and from his lips fell like shells, like shaving from a plane, without his making them, hard, white, imperishable words, and flew to attach themselves to their places in an ode to Time; an immortal ode to Time. He sa ng. Evans answered from behind the tree. The dead were in Thessaly, Evans sang, among the orchids. There they waited till the War was over, and now the dead, now Evans himself--. ( MD 69-70) The novel’s treatment of the devastating impact of war upon Septimus, as well as his demeaning and damaging treatment by two doc tors functioning as mouthpieces for the dominant ideology of the Stat e, is one example that Woolf intended a profound critique of the ideological underpinnings of a psychology of class. That is, class is constructed by embedding notions of socially acceptable beha vior into the mind; these notions create patterns of behavior that become definitiv e of social class and of “normalcy.” Such is the social work of Dr.William Bradshaw, who treats Septimus. Notably, Bradshaw has attained high social status by treating dysfunctional members of British society, as indicated by the t itle “Sir,” which adds to hi s functioning as an official representative of a divisive social structure. Sir William’s view of his difficult mental

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165 patients, who could be sent to a place in Surrey to be taught a sense of proportion is expressed in this way: If they failed him, he had to support police and the good of society, which, he remarked very quietly, would take ca re, down in Surrey, that these unsocial impulses, bred more than anything by the lack of good blood, were held in control. And then stole out from her hiding-place and mounted her throne that Goddess whose lust is to override opposition, to stamp indelibly in the sanctuaries of others the image of herself. Naked, defenceless, the exhausted, the friendless received the impress of Sir William’s will. He swooped; he devoured. He shut people up. ( MD 102)40 The last sentence is particularly evocative, for Bradshaw not only literally confines people, but he shuts them up in his paradigm of normalcy, one that ideologically supports empire, and also denies them a speaking voi ce. Ironically, Lady Bradshaw represents a devolution connected to her ge nder, for she has slowly sunk, submitting to the will of her husband: “Once, long ago, she had caught salmon freely: now, quick to minister to the craving which lit her husband’s eye so o ilily for dominion, for power, she cramped, squeezed, pared, pruned, drew back, peeped through . .” ( MD 101). Lady Bradshaw’s marriage arrests her personal growth, displaying the negative effects of a social system founded on patriarchy and empire. In this novel, the socially-constructe d system of order enacts a dialectic with the natural order of a day running its course from sunrise to sunset. This dual order is imposed upon the novel in a deceptively simple, Joycean manner, for the novel takes place in one day in mid-June in London in 1923. Yet, death hovers over this crisp and

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166 glorious day, and eventually we see that ev en the “natural” order has been defined by an indeterminate narrator whose overarching res ponse seems to be one of deep sadness at the passing of time and the ra vages of World War I. Clari ssa sparkles at the novel’s beginning, however, for she is in love with life and floats on waves of “divine vitality” as she prepares to be the perfect hostess for her perfect party. She stiffens at the curb as she feels: a particular hush, or solemnity ; an indescribable pause; a suspense (but that might be her heart, affected, they said, by influe nza) before Big Ben strikes. There! Out it boomed. First a warning, musical; then th e hour, irrevocable. The leaden circles dissolved in the air. ( MD 4) The reference to Clarissa’s heart probl em could be an allusion to another element in the adverse aftermath of World War I: th e 1918 influenza epidemic. Time asserts its Janus face at the outset of the novel. Woolf seem s to say that we are full of vitality, but the leaden circles of Time weigh us down and eventually grind us into the earth; war is waged between the body and time. Elizabet h Hirsh (2005) discusses the connection between menopause and death that Woolf ha s embedded in the novel. Menopause itself has often been associated w ith heart palpitations, providi ng further bodily connections between the tolling of the be ll and the body’s decline over ti me. We are warned subtly but clearly that Clarissa’s v itality is connected to the tr iad of war, death, and “Father Time.” The striking of the clock, Big Ben, is connected both with benevolence (creating order out of time, marking time with a hum an gesture of sorts) and malevolence (a warning that time is passing and irrevocable). The nexus of time and death also creates a grounding of classlessness in th is novel that ultimately unites the upper-class Clarissa and

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167 the lower-class Septimus. Clarissa is past fifty, the opening pages announce, and she is acutely conscious of fleeting “moments of be ing.” These moments suffer the rupture of war that throws into focus the patriarchal ru ptures of gender relati ons inherited from the Victorian period. War also clar ifies the socioeconomic rami fications of violence on a large scale, the birthing of children destined for war, which later will be called into question directly by Woolf in Three Guineas For now, she examines closely both the causes and the effects of war upon Clarissa and Septimus. An ironic self-reflexivity informs the beginning section of th e novel. Woolf writes, “Such fools we are, she thought, crossing Vi ctoria Street. For Heaven only knows why one loves it so, how one sees it so, ma king it up, building it round one, tumbling it, creating it every moment afresh” ( MD 4). A postmodern sense of the fluctuating nature of reality surfaces here in the disembodied na rrator’s rendition of Clarissa’s interior monologue. The construction of re ality expressed here is prov isional, built around the self as subjective interpre ter, and subject to deconstruc tion and re-creation. Clarissa’s monologue is a prime example of Woolf’s se nse of modernist indeterminacy and also illustrates some postmodernist tendencies. Life is lived moment to moment and recreated moment to moment, but Claris sa’s life is infused with a sense of foreboding brought on by the end of the War and the oppressive se nse that war could recur. Pamela Caughie suggests that though Woolf conveys a communa l sense in the novel, she also calls attention to the world’s c onstructedness as a symbolic structure; the world in Mrs. Dalloway is aleatoric rather than unified, for it does not uni te us in some absolute beyond the moment but ra ther immerses us in the moment (75).

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168 Clarissa herself is shell-shocked in another wa y, for she has long suffered the violations of patriarchy, a paradigm demandi ng that she fulfill her expected upper-class function as hostess of brilliant parties, even though she en joys doing so. Clarissa will never become a prime minister: she does not even possess the opportunity for a university education, still denied to many women (a fact Woolf roundly criticizes in A Room of One’s Own) Clarissa reveals, however, an agency as “hostess” for her own view of the world, selecting the flowers, furniture arrange ment, food, and ideas she wishes her guests to enjoy. Clarissa (and Woolf) continually interrogates her party--i.e. she speculates on the ways in which she arranges the furniture of her mind to make sense of the party of life she encounters in the midst of the lingeri ng violence of war. Cl arissa’s interrogation includes a questioning of gender relations. Ho w is she connected to Septimus Smith, she wonders at the end of the novel. How should she act toward Peter? Sally? She had been excited when Sally kissed her on the lips, and she launches into a reflection upon heterosexual versus homosexual desires: “But this question of love (she thought, putting her coat away), this falling in love with wo men. Take Sally Seton; her relation in the old days with Sally Seton. Had not th at, after all, been love?” ( MD 32). A few moments later Clarissa reflects: “The stra nge thing, on looking back, was th e purity, the integrity, of her feeling for Sally. It was not lik e one’s feeling for a man. It was completely disinterested, and besides, it had a quality which could onl y exist between women, between women just grown up” ( MD 34). Clarissa is not performing ge nder “properly” (particularly in response to the kiss); she feels guilt y but also deliciously rebellious. In The Psychic Life of Power, Judith Butler points out that performing skills create the status of the subject as a soci al being. In an extension of Althusser, Butler here argues

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169 that the subject continually submits to “the law” in a process of being acquitted of the accusation of guilt. Only after guilt and repetitive practice to learn proper linguistic skills does the subject assume the grammatical place within the social wo rld as subject (11819). Clarissa criticizes her own subject position and the au thority of those who would elicit an excessively constricted gender perf ormance. She both submits to the law and secretly wishes to subvert her society’s paradigm of “proper performance” for women, one circumscribed also by specific expectati ons for women of differe nt social classes. This implicit critique expands in scope as the novel continues. Clarissa muses in the beginning of th e novel upon her decision not to marry Peter. She believes that her marriage to Richard has save d her, for, unlike Peter, he gives her the freedom to do what she wishes--a freedom that includes sleeping alone like a nun, protected in “a room of her own” agains t the onslaughts of sexual overtures and the unwanted general intrusion of the “violent” outer world. Peter had warned her that she would marry a prime minister and become a perfect hostess. She would “stand at the top of a staircase,” a perfect icon fo r the pinnacle of achievement in her social class. Clarissa remembers that she cried later at home about Peter’s prediction ( MD 7-8). Of course, it all came true. Woolf might be describing her own tec hnique in writing novels when she positions Clarissa gazing upon the omnibuses (an objectiv e correlative for the world’s constantly moving masses of humanity) and remark ing in highly philosophical terms: She would not say of any one in the world now that they were this or were that. She felt very young; at the same time unsp eakably aged. She sliced like a knife through everything; at the same time wa s outside, looking on. She had a perpetual

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170 sense, as she watched the taxi cabs, of be ing out, out, far out to sea and alone; she always had the feeling that it was very, very dangerous to live even one day. Not that she thought herself clever, or much out of the ordinary. How she had got through life on the few twigs of knowledge Fraulein Daniels gave them she could not think. She knew nothing; no language, no history; she scarcely read a book now, except memoirs in bed; and yet to her it was absolutely absorbing; all this; the cabs passing; and she would not say of Pe ter, she would not say of herself I am this, I am that. ( MD 8-9) The above passage anticipates postmode rn views on the necessity of a provisional approach to reality. To Donna Haraway, for example, the most sensible epistemological stance is not one of deceptive objectivity as a fixed position; rather, the knowing self-which cannot simultaneously be in all positi ons structured by gender, race, and class-must be partial, imperfect, engaged in he terogeneous multiplicity (193-95). Clarissa recognizes her necessarily limited standpoint. De spite it, or perhaps because of it, she refuses to impose categorical violence on herself or others, particularly in speaking of her own identity or Peter’s. Th roughout the novel she both directly and indirectly indicts the categorical violence inherent in the material effects of war--including the practices of war embedded in “peacetime” gender and class relations. War is a clarifying moment in ge nder/class relations whic h provokes philosophical discourse on many topics in the novel. Clar issa reads a passage from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline an elegiac romance, in a book spread open in a shop window: “‘Fear no more the heat o’the sun / Nor the furious winter’s rages’” ( MD 9). She links this passage to the novel’s post-war setting amid the aftermath of the Great War. Clarissa rejects the social

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171 construction of various feminine roles that b ecome ever more painfully obvious when the inherently patriarchal structure of war is la id bare. Women are exp ected to support their men as representatives of their country in a war that involves killing human beings. Those human beings have been birthed by mothers, who are therefore biologically essential to the project of war. In the figure of Septimus, Clarissa also criticizes the social construction of sanity as related to the war e ffort. Who really is th e sane person when one considers the insanity of war? Furthermore, in the passage quot ed earlier, Clarissa reveals a postmodernist sense of the slipperiness of language when called upon to name reality. Clarissa states that she is both insider and outsider, slicing like a knife through everything and yet standing outside the experience as an observer. She also relates the paradoxical sensation of simultaneous youth and old age. Both paradoxes suggest a rejection of essentialist conceptions of time and space. Patricia Laurence in The Reading of Silence (1991) observes that Woolf often engages in a kind of psycho-narration th at involves self-address, in stead of using “said” and quotation marks. This practice results in a kind of theater of the mind in which Woolf questions the possibility of the self as a narrator “outside the thinker” (Laurence 23-25). Laurence sees Woolf as the first modernist nove list to practice silence rather than speech, a novelist of subjectivity who confronts and na rrates silences between islands of speech in a way that reflects her gender. Such sile nce draws attention to itself and reveals the mask of language. Laurence distinguishes between the unsaid, th e unspoken, and the unsayable in Woolf. The unsayable is la id bare through punctuation, metaphor, space, and the rhythms of silence (1-5). Laurence al so points out that in Woolf’s novel, talk is often equated with men (a mastered presence over the moment because they talk), and

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172 silence equated with the ab sence of women, a silence wh ich nonetheless has its own rhetoric and psychic life (11). Postcolonial theorists such as Gayatri Spivak insist on the vital need to intervene in ideological inscript ion of the terrain of women to measure those silences (“Can the Subaltern Sp eak?” 286-87). I believe that in Mrs. Dalloway Woolf was performing exactly the intervention of which Spiv ak and Laurence speak. In a sense, Woolf was bodily colonized by patriarchy, perhaps most intimately in her childhood sexual abuse. Nonetheless, in the character of Clarissa (and elsewhere) Woolf questions the role of women, using a rhetoric of both silence and speech about the war. She exposes the colonizing web of patriarc hy and empire in a manner that connects closely to her explicit discussion of these relations in Three Guineas Gwen Anderson has noted that only later in life, under the in fluence of strong figures such as Ethel Smyth, did Woolf discard her relative silence a nd coded language to openly attack the interrelated structures of patriarchy, empire, and war ( MD 9). Clarissa’s chance reading of the passage from Cymbeline suggests the power of the common reader championed by Woolf, who entitle d her first collection of essays by that name. Anyone, a common reader of any sta tion in life, could have happened upon this book spread open in a shop window. Anyone could have been inspired or touched by it. This passage also initiates the novel’s eleg iac theme. A war has enacted the death of innocence and the necessity of an elegiac response to life even in the midst of a beauteous June day. Against this backdr op, Clarissa says, “Oh if she could have had her life over again!” and been “interested in politics like a man,” and not had the odd “sense of being herself invisible, unseen, unknown . this be ing Mrs. Dalloway; not even Clarissa any more; this being Mrs. Richard Dalloway” ( MD 10-11). Woolf here illustrates Clarissa’s

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173 discomfort with a prescribed social role that militates against taking one’s own interest in war and other worldly matters seriously enoug h to warrant engagement. Clarissa’s selfidentity has been absorbed in to that of her husband, reflect ed in a name change that obscures everything about her except her relation to a man. Woolf engages her protagonist in a series of meditations upon the social construction of roles and selfknowledge but does so in a way that problematiz es such construction. Clarissa wishes she could be interested in politic s like a man, but she is unable to escape the patriarchal order inscribed in her brain. One critic argues that Woolf was concerned with her own dependence upon a patrilineal lite rary heritage, particularly that of Matthew Arnold and T. S. Eliot, whose echoes resound in Mrs. Dalloway Woolf represses the patriarchal symbolic order which is “other” to her but repeatedly turns to it, unable to break free (Childs 80-81). She is often trapped in a state of indeterminacy. John Carey argues that modernist liter ature and culture organi zed itself around a sense of cultural superiority to th e unthinking masses. Clarissa, for instance, is repulsed by Doris Kilman because Kilman is so common th at she wears a green mackintosh (qtd. in Day 155). Clarissa’s contradict ory class views are reflected in her alternating sympathy for the working-class Septimus and for shopgirls on the one hand, and fascination with Lady Bruton on the other. Wool f admired her brother-in-law C live Bell despite his elitist views espoused in Civilization (though she criticized Bell fo r his snobbery) and of course loved Vita Sackville-West, who was married to the famously elitist Harold Nicholson. Woolf wants and needs the refinements of a “ci vilization” that she was born into as a member of the upper middle class, though great material wealth was neither part of her heritage nor her aspirations. Sh e remains deeply in favor of equality for all, yet she

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174 finally realizes that she herself is implicat ed in the maintenance of repressive social divisions, partly because of her role as a Bloomsbury artist raised above the fray, and partly because of an inherited sense of privilege she found hard to shake. However, eventually Woolf places an increasing focus upon the common reader, hoping thereby to promote critical thinking and self-education among the lower classes. Some of her essays reproduced in The Common Reader series (1925 and 1932) are impressive even in their pedagogical methods for teaching critical thinking and reading about a subject. They also provide eviden ce of her growing con cern with the common reader at the midpoint of her career, rather than simply at its conclusion. She may have been influenced by her early experiences of teaching at Morley Colle ge, an institution for the working-class. In later life she was also strongly affected by the rabble-rousing Ethel Smyth, who prodded Woolf even further in to dismantling her class prejudices. Furthermore, the aftermath of World War I resulted in class upheavals that had a profound effect upon Woolf and many others. Mrs. Dalloway embodies many of these effects, situating them in the deceptively sa fe structures of ordinary British life in London: the regularity of Big Ben’s striking bells, the st atuary of Whitehall, the protective mantle of the monarchy. As the novel proceeds, suddenly Clarissa and other passersby hear a pistol-shot, which turns out to be the agitation of a passing car possibly carrying the Queen (a representative of Empire). Clarissa notices poor women waitin g to see the Queen--leading to a chilling association of “nice little child ren, orphans, widows, the War” ( MD 18-20). Next, the sound of an airplane bores ominously into the ears of the crowd. These war sounds are invoked here as a prelude to Woolf’s interr ogation of social cons tructions, including

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175 epistemological categories, for at this point Septimus is introduced as a strange man who cannot make out what word is being spelle d out in smoke in the sky. He has just threatened to kill himself. Rezia, his wife, tr ies valiantly to conceal his desires from the public, and attempts to interest him in things outside of himself, as the doctor treating Septimus has instructed her to do. Heari ng the voices of birds chirping in Greek, Septimus suddenly hallucinates, thinking he sees his comrade, Evans, from the war. With acutely sensitive nerves, Septimus feels connected to the fluttering of leaves and of sparrows, to the sense that a new religion is being birthe d. He takes notes on backs of envelopes, writing “There is a God” ( MD 24). It is no accident that a few pages later readers are in troduced to Clarissa’s ideas on a Supreme Being: “not for a moment did she believe in God.” Clarissa, however, believes that her husband is the foundati on for much of her happiness, and that she must pay back humanity from a secret deposit of exquisite moments ( MD 29). Nonetheless, life with Richard is not all sweetness and light. Discove ring that her husband is lunching with Lady Bruton, she feels the pang of exclusi on and trudges upstairs to her narrow room where Richard insists, after her illness, that she sleep alone for her own good. Lucio Ruotolo observes that Clarissa retreats to hers elf in times of difficulty in a manner similar to the shell-shocked Septimus (110). While there, she reflects upon how she has failed Richard again in her virginal coldness of sp irit.Woolf need not comment directly here, for silence speaks eloquently of a war waged ag ainst women in their own heads as they internalize a patriarchal idea of their identitie s. To complicate matters, Clarissa at several points exclaims that she is quite happy th at Richard allows her a space of her own.41

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176 Clarissa’s reflection upon the manner in which she has failed Richard leads to a surprising dissection of her pa ssionate feelings for women --in particular, Sally Seton. Woolf’s famous “match burning in a croc us” passage describing Clarissa’s sexual feelings for Sally is a daring excavation of an undercurrent of feeling and behavior not openly discussed in English society. In girl hood, Sally smokes, runs naked down the hall, kisses Clarissa on the lips. The exquisite mo ment of the kiss is interrupted by two men with (appropriately) biblical names, old Joseph and Peter. Clarissa remembers the interrupted moment like this: “I t was like running one’s face ag ainst a granite wall in the darkness! It was shocking; it was horrible!” ( MD 36). Thus, Woolf suggests, society interrupts such an alliance be tween two women, particularly a passionate alliance. To Woolf, society is at war with any but the kind of sexual relations that support Empire, colonialism, and birthing babies for war in order to maintain material dominance. Interruption functions as a key devi ce for suggesting irony in much of Woolf’s writing, a technique she often uses as a genderspecific experience because of its frequent occurrence in women’s fragmented daily liv es. Earlier, Rezia had interrupted the mentally-disturbed Septimus at an important moment. Now Clarissa is interrupted at eleven o’clock, on the day she is giving a party, by her lost love, Peter Walsh. Peter comments on the shallow role Clarissa has embraced, while fiddling with a sharp and symbolic knife. He reflects that nothing in the world is so bad for some women as marriage and politics and having a Conservati ve husband. Peter suddenly seizes her by the shoulders and asks if she is happy with Ri chard. Clarissa is stru ck by a desire to run away with Peter and discard her present li fe, when once again she is interrupted by Elizabeth, her silent daughter. Later she is interrupted by Elizabeth’s teacher, the

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177 unpleasant Miss Kilman (whose name suggest s obvious gender-violence). Ironically, Elizabeth is a mostly silent presence in th e text, a presence suggesting the pathos of absent female discourse. In Mrs. Dalloway, as in most of her fiction, Woolf uses silence, interruption, and the in ternal subversion of s uperficial atten tion to men to indicate that women indeed constitute a separate class in terms of gendered psychology and behavior. As Patricia Laurence notes, such silence may also be read as a yet undisclosed richness, or as a refusal to enact a subordinate position ( The Reading 57-58). Time intervenes with its own violence as Peter and Clarissa are talking. At the halfhour, Big Ben “stuck out between them w ith extraordinary vigour as if a young man, strong, indifferent, inconsiderate, were sw inging dumb-bells this way and that” ( MD 48). Paradoxically, time is at war with the intens ity of the moment, the dumb-bells of time rupturing moments of passion. Th is recurrent image in the novel evokes an intriguing backdrop of universal classlessness, a sense of Time as the great leveler who does not respect social divisions. As Peter walks away from that mo ment with Clarissa, he comes upon young boys in uniform, marching to a strict rhythm with guns and “on their faces an expression like the letters of a legend written round the base of a statue praising duty, gra titude, fidelity, love of England” ( MD 51). The young boys march “as if one will worked legs and arms uniformly, and life, with its va rieties, its irreticences, had been laid under a pavement of monuments and wreaths and drugged into a stiff yet staring corpse by discipline” ( MD 51). Particularly frightening in its evo cation of fascism is the formation of young individuals into a herd dominated by “one will.”

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178 Peter sees a problem with this scene, but shows no understanding of similarly “fascist” gender relations. His interior monologue represen ts the way Clarissa’s gender is shaped by the expressed thought of a pa triarchal system representing the ideology of the ruling class. The sociologist John Thompson argues that symbolic forms are constitutive of social reality; symbolic operations like reif ication and narrativization legitimate the meanings of the dominant power group (58-61) Peter’s inner speech narrativizes the conditions of Clarissa’s li fe and continues their reification. The unnamed narrator describes Peter watching the young boys marching with their guns down Whitehall, drugged into a “staring corpse by discipline”: One had to respect it; one might laugh; but one had to respect it, he thought. There they go, thought Peter Walsh, pausing at the edge of the pa vement; and all the exalted statues, Nelson, Gordon, Haveloc k, the black, the spect acular images of great soldiers looking ahead of them, as if they too had made the same renunciation (Peter Walsh felt he too had made it, the great renunciation), trampled under the same temptations, and achieved at length a marble stare. ( MD 51) Peter has accepted the militari stic paradigm for his gender and his society. His acceptance legitimates power for the dominant group in his society, one that denies full personhood for some members of the military and even for his beloved upper-class Clarissa. Lately returned to England after five years in India, Peter muses about changes in modern British life--r anging from “paint” on women to writers openly discussing waterclosets—and upon dear old friends like Sally Seton, who argue d at Bourton with social climber Hugh Whitbread about women’s ri ghts--“that antediluvian topic” ( MD 73). Peter

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179 seeks a deep understanding of his world, as do Clarissa and Septimus. Peter cannot slice through everything, as Clarissa is said to do, for he often only bumbles with his pocketknife, but he nonetheless scratches messages on the walls of what Sally Seton calls his individual prison of self. He does so perhaps as frequently as Clarissa and Septimus; all three provide the fascinating refractions of gender and class revealed by Woolf in this novel Sally Seton’s loud argument with Hugh Whitbread is presented at a remove-embedded in Peter’s reverie, a technique used effectively in The Voyage Out and elsewhere to mitigate the socially-negative effects of Woolf’s satire. Sally remembers Peter telling Hugh that “he represented all that was most detestable in middle-class British life” and that she “considered him respons ible for the state of ‘those poor girls in Piccadilly’” ( MD 73). As we saw, the latter phrase echoes earlier concerns in The Voyage Out, where the exact words are used to reflect co ncern with a capitalist social system that breeds prostitution of women. In her middle period, Woolf begins to re alize more fully that she is herself “framed by the text she frames.”42 Some of her critique is embedde d in a politics of silence that demands careful reading. Silent critique is implied in Pete r’s pocket knife and Clarissa’s needle; the periodic interjection of the Cymbeline quote; the frequent use of parentheses and semicolons (rather than the full stops of periods) and dashes; the general rhythms of life marked by both the regularity of Big Be n’s booming and by constant interruptions. Woolf’s zigzag musings are difficult to pin down at any particular moment—a practice that seems deliberate and suitable for the view expressed in the first few pages that “no

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180 one is any one thing”--but for the discerning r eader they create a cumulative, deceptively subtle effect of devasta ting social criticism. Woolf’s exploration of these rhythms su its her characterization of Clarissa. Clarissa’s heart condition caused by influenza (an epidem ic associated with the War) provides an appropriate link with Septimus and other wa r connections in the novel. Both characters have been strongly affected by the war, a nd both engage in elegiac behavior, with Septimus ultimately choosing death—a death felt bodily, however briefly, by Clarissa as well. After a spring bout of flu, Woolf hersel f was misdiagnosed with heart problems in 1922, an experience that fright ened her into a contempla tion of death. Hermione Lee observes that Mrs. Dalloway which Woolf began in October of 1922, “was powerfully affected by this brush with mortality” and that Woolf decided that the theme of this novel would be the contrast betw een life and death (449). Through Peter, Mrs. Dalloway presents a criticism of ma rriage: “there’s nothing in the world so bad for some women as marriage, he thought” (41). But th is social criticism is characteristically placed in the mouth of a character other than Clarissa (who is more likely to be identified with the author). In the midst of his meeting with Clarissa, Peter engages in an interior conversation in wh ich he berates himself for being a failure compared with the Dalloways, whose home boa sts inlaid floors, a mounted paper-knife, old and valuable English tinted prints. Ironi cally, it is the upper-c lass Richard who later observes prostitutes at Piccadilly and comment s upon “our detestable social system” ( MD 116). In fact, Woolf frequently refers to th e prostitutes in Piccad illy in her fiction, positioning them as part of the class of wome n and yet as definitely “other.” Peter, Richard, and Clarissa all lament the state of a ffairs at Piccadilly, ye t all three reinscribe

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181 the social system that enables these prostitu tes by passively mainta ining their own class status. In the initial phase of Peter and Clari ssa’s meeting, the rush of give and take in the words and emotions between them is described in competitive, martial terms: “So before a battle begins, the horses paw the ground” and they “challenged each other. His powers chafed and tossed in him” and “the indom itable egotism which for ever rides down the hosts opposed to it” urges Clarissa onward ( MD 44-45). The martial theme is continued as Peter notices the young boys in uniform marching up Whitehall.The British Empire is richly evoked in the opening of the novel, beginning with references to Peter coming home from India, the booming of Big Ben, Pa rliament, Clarissa’s observation that “The War was over,” ( MD 5) Hugh Whitbread and his part y at Buckingham Palace, the mysterious motorcar which might be carryi ng the Queen--“the majesty of England, of the enduring symbol of the state” ( MD 16). As emblematic for British society, Clarissa admiringly recalls Lady Bexborough, who placed dut y ahead of emotion as she stalwartly opened a bazaar despite th e telegram in hand stating that her favorite son, John, has been killed in the war. At times this martial drum beat is submerged for the casual reader by the surface focus upon the glittering but sympat hetic society figure of Mrs. Richard Dalloway. Peter is a significant ve hicle for Woolf’s criticism of Cl arissa and the class system in this novel. Clarissa is contrasted with Sally Seton, whom she has always admired for her liberal and daring lack of conventionality. But in youth Peter had mentally criticized Clarissa’s prudish reaction when Sally declared that a housemaid who married a neighboring squire had become pregnant before their marriag e. Peter called Clarissa’s

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182 response “arrogant; unimaginative; prudi sh; ‘The death of the soul’” ( MD 59). Now, as the outside observer who has lived in the co lonies for many years, he is the figure who can recognize some of the class issues affecting women (if not men like himself). Still, Peter seems oblivious to his ow n class bias. Of course Clarissa is also contrasted with Doris Kilman, the highly-prote ctive Rezia, and various othe r minor female figures, as well as with her husband, Richar d. Peter is actually depicted as fairly liberated in his social role, despite the personal constraints he reveals as the novel pr oceeds. Richard is a more shadowy figure who seems to repres ent the novel’s skelet on, so to speak, the backgrounded but ever-present Britis h legal and politic al structure. Only the Great War deeply challenged cl ass divisions in the British Empire. Christine Darrohn delineates the effects of the war upon class in Britain, noting the profound upset of established ways of thinking and li ving. Many thousands of young, marriageable, upperand middle-class men, for instance, we re among the casualties. Maroula Joannou explains that many women from the upper and middle classes wanted to promote a more socialist society after the war, but recoile d at the thought of diminished leisure and means. Joannou quotes Naomi Mitchison’s 193 2 letter to Woolf’s friend, Edward Garnett: “It will be damned uncomfortable, a nd I shall never any more have any of the things I like, no baths and silk clothes and quiet and le isure and a good typewriter of my own” (4). Woolf harbored the same conflicti ng feelings; after all, she argued in 1929 for the importance of a room of one’s own, not to menti on an independent income. Peter muses: “The future lies in the hands of young men like that, he thought” ( MD 50). Certainly, it did not seem to lie in the hands of young girls, or fifty-two-year-old women. Peter later reflects on the ways Englan d is connected with the very essence of

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183 civilization. Peter here repres ents a view that Woolf crit iques in her final novel, Between the Acts. His view is evocative of Clive Bell’s Civilization. It is understandable that a profound concern with what elements comprise a civilized society should be discussed against the background chaos of war and destruction. Descending from a respectable Anglo-In dian family that for three generations has administered the affairs of a continent, Pete r finds the male web of dominance essential to the civilizing impulse. As he approaches Regent’s Park, he meditates that women live much more in the past and attach themselves to places and to their fathers (as Clarissa does, in his estimation). Peter is even driven to an absolute statement: “a woman’s always proud of her father” ( MD 55). Woolf, who felt deeply am bivalent about her father, may be tweaking our sensibilities--particularly as she places this observation in the mind of the masculine (though at times also emasculated) Peter Walsh. For Molly Hoff, Mrs. Dalloway is a full-fledged parody of James Joyce’s Ulysses using numerous encoded references to Homer’s Odyssey Hoff claims that Mrs. Dalloway employs at least 600 paraphrases and parodies of a chrestomathy of texts which share the rhetoric of dis-membering and re-membering, suggesting that literature is one of the things that Mrs. Dalloway is about. Hoff wonders how one “names” the web of patriarchal relations in a novel (186-88) and not es the appropriation of war imagery from the Odyssey including even Miss Kilman’s descrip tion as an unwieldy battleship (192). Hoff’s argument supports my contention that Woolf uses satire extensively, a fact inadequately recognized by many readers. B ecause satire depends upon the recognition of an alternative norm, much of Woolf’s satire was unrecogni zed in her time. Patriarchal constructions were so thoroughly embedded in her society that they were invisible.

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184 Michele Pridmore-Brown argues that in Between the Acts Woolf fights fascism by exploiting the noise or static inherent in the new communicat ions technology in order to show a way out of the politics of dom ination. Woolf demonstrates that the surplus (what exceeds official messages sent or recorded) can be used as a form of resistance and exploits the physicist’s notion that multiple subjective worlds lurk beneath a surface sequence of events. In Between the Acts entropic metaphors draw n from nineteenth century science imply the imminent disso lution of civilizatio n. Woolf employs her understanding of the new physics that resolved Newton’s solid world into an invisible world of waves (408-09). Pridmore-Bro wn’s observations can be applied to Mrs. Dalloway, an important prelude Woolf’s later work. Mrs. Dalloway incorporates Woolf’s early examination of shifting identities, da maging paradigms, and the political web of domination that connects even marriage a nd war. Her early short stories—“Solid Objects,” “The Mark on the Wall,” and “K ew Gardens,” for example—provide clear evidence of the “multiple subjective worlds ” hidden under the surface and of entropic metaphors; they also hint at the waves of the new physics that proves Newton’s solid world a myth. Pridmore-Brown provide s a trope for human nature in Three Guineas that suits Mrs. Dalloway as well: a gramophone whose needle has stuck in a rhythm of marching boots and a rhyme of private property (male posse ssiveness, domestic tyranny, nationalism). However, the critique is less severe in Mrs. Dalloway where Peter remarks repeatedly that still “one had to respect it” ( MD 51). In their youth, Peter, Sally Seton and Clarissa talk hour after hour about how they will refo rm the world and even found a society to abolish private property, but having actually written a letter they do not even send it ( MD

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185 33). In her early work, Woolf often discusses or suggests embedding many criticisms of her society and of language in seemingly ha rmless vignettes, metaphors, interruptions, ellipses. In Three Guineas she debates issues fiercely and openl y. She cannot agree with Peter’s qualification that still one must “res pect it,” meaning war and training for war, with all of its class, gender and patriarchal implications. Later Woolf directly connects gender politics and war, declaring that patria rchy is the private face of fascism; the English, she states, simply do privat ely what the Nazis do publicly ( TG 102). It is important to recognize the cumulative and prep aratory effect of her early work and its close relationship to her critically importa nt declaration of po litical values in Three Guineas As the novel continues, Septimus is hall ucinating in the same park where Peter sleeps like a child. Septimus suggests that he and Rezi a kill themselves, thinks he sees the head of an old woman in a fern, once again believes that he sees Evans, and claims that he (Septimus) knows the meaning of the world. Vacillating between universal bliss and nightmarish hallucination, Septimus inhabi ts a frightening wo rld resulting from shellshock. As Reizia tells him that it is time for his appointment with the doctor, Septimus discovers that the word “time” has split its husk and that words fly “to attach themselves to their places in an ode to Time; an immortal ode to Time” ( MD 69-70). Time and space are presented as classless cate gories that can rupture in both positive and negative ways. Because these categories have ruptured for Septimus, he is further cast down from his working-class status into the sub-category of the mentally ill, as well as the possible sub-category of a person with homosexual tendencies—a relationship hinted at in the close but perhaps physically repressed friendship between him and Evans. The

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186 overlapping categories create a Venn diagra m whose central figure becomes Dante’s seventh circle of hell. Septimus is a lower-class man who ha s immersed himself in libraries and studied Shakespeare only to end up with a mind de stroyed by war. Woolf also suffered the ignominy of paternalistic, incompetent treat ment for mental illness at the hands of domineering physicians like Dr. Bradshaw. Brad shaw is a satiric portrait of Woolf’s own doctors and an illustration of the will to power that produces public Hitlerism from the cachepot of private tyranny. Woolf demonstrat es that class does not rest solely upon a socioeconomic base, but is built also upon status, which depends upon other factors affecting placement in a social hierarchy. Beverly Skeggs argues that a “dialogic judgmental other” is central to subject form ation, particularly for women; thus class functions on an emotional level (13). I interp ret Skeggs to mean that the dialog between a “judgmental other” and the subject-such as Dr. Bradshaw in tr eating Septimus or Woolf’s doctors in treating her— itself helps to shape one’s perception of self and thus one’s sense of class based on st atus. This sense of class as status, which then becomes internalized and controls one’s behavior, is not monolithic. Thus a person may belong to a high social class as defined by socioeconomic standards, but may stil l feel marginalized within that class because of dialogic judgmental others w ho shape the individual’s sense of his or her own status as less desirable than the norm. Similarly, Max Weber argued in Woolf’s lifetime that the category of class is full of slippages. An adequate lexicon of words to label distinctions and subdivisions is lacking. Woolf’s initial sense of marginalization ar ose when she realized the drawbacks she suffered as a result of being denied the unive rsity education offered to her brothers. As

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187 one of the “uneducated daughters of educated men,” she experienced her first bitter taste of lower status within her upper middle cla ss because of her gender. Early on she began to explore the difference and psychology of cl ass she experienced because of her gender. First, she was viewed differently than males in her society, with her opinions and even intelligence not taken as seriously. Second, sh e was discriminated against in the same areas because she had not attended a uni versity, which was linked to the gender difference in her class. And third, she felt an internally different status at times because of her Sapphist leanings and because of her history of mental illness. When Peter Walsh awakens, he remembers an argument between Sally Seton and Hugh Whitbread about “women’s righ ts (that antediluvian topic)” ( MD 73). Sally later, half laughing, implored Peter to carry Clar issa off to save her from the Hughs and Dalloways and all the other “‘perfect gentleme n’” who would surely stifle her soul. Peter extends the criticism, observing that the British Empire has grown on her since her marriage to Richard Dalloway. As he muses, an ancient sound bubbles up out of the earth across from the Regent’s Park Tube station. Th e station is a womb image, and beside it an archetypal, battered old woman sings uni ntelligible words whic h evoke a love that prevails over the pagean t of the universe. Death, with its enormous sickle, is also evoked. In the midst of the June day one is presen ted with a rude mouth, a hole in the earth “fertilising, leaving a damp stai n” (81). This striking symbol of the maternal issuing forth life stands in opposition to the definition of sa nity in the British Empire. In an ironic juxtaposition, Septimus is hurried along in th e park by Rezia toward his appointment with Dr. Bradshaw. Woolf suggest s that there is little chance of cure with this representative of empire. While in Dr. Bradshaw’s office, Se ptimus mutters “Communication is health;

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188 communication is happine ss, communication--” ( MD 93). Big Ben rings exactly twelve o’clock as Clarissa at this very moment of Septimus’ appointment lays out her green dress upon the bed. Woolf’s readers see that th e circles of Big Ben are now closing upon both Clarissa and Septimus. Again, the image of a Venn diagram is useful to describe their coming together from diffe rent social classes under the au spices of the classlessness represented by Time’s tolling bells, moving them both ever onward. Having defined sanity as healthful communication, society is complicit in maintaining ill health, for it rejects all aspects of their humanity that exceed its rigidly constructed boundaries. Clarissa seems cons trained at times to maintain silence about important matters in her life, including her homoerotic fascination with Sally Seton. Septimus has been violated by a society that teaches men not to feel so that they may better serve the war machine. Furthermore, his shell-shocked condition is not treated effectively. He is trivialized, spoken to as though he were a sma ll child, urged to go to live in a home in the country where he can be taught to rest. He is treated as a member of a sub-class because of his mental problems and as a second-class citizen. Clari ssa engages voluntarily in the trivial. Karen Levenback quotes Kierkegaar d on this point: one can tranquilize oneself with the trivial in order to avoid the pa in of full consciousness (49). Levenback’s assessment supports my point that Clarissa is also satirized by Woolf as complicit in maintaining class divisions. Bradshaw defines good health as having a sense of proportion. Woolf observes scathingly through her narrator that “Wors hipping proportion, Sir William not only prospered himself but made E ngland prosper, secluded her lu natics, forbade childbirth, penalised despair, made it impossible for the unfit to propagate thei r views until they, too,

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189 shared his sense of proportion. .” ( MD 99). Woolf here critiques a male authority that would define sanity according to its ow n norms. Hermoine Lee notes that Woolf internalized the vocabulary of mental illne ss prevalent during her time and at various points reveals ambivalence in her feelings a bout the illness for which she herself was treated (182-84). Foucault argues that defi ning madness as outside the boundaries of “truth” reveals its connections to desire a nd power. Defining “truth” in this system of exclusion is connected to a “will to truth” on the part of human beings, a will which must be called into question ( The Order of Discourse 1155-57). Woolf contests this “will to truth,” sometimes with satiri c quills as her only real weapons in these warring world views. The clocks of Harley Street are desc ribed as nibbling at th e June day, counseling submission, upholding authority, an d pointing out the advantages of a sense of proportion as Rezia and Septimus leave the domain of Sir William Bradshaw and Lady Bradshaw. The imagery reinforces the dominant paradigm illustrated in the doctor-patient relationship, a relationship oddly similar to the Bradshaw marriage. Sir William defines the norm for marriage, supported by the so cially-constructed notion of marriage belonging to his class. The proportions of de pendence and independence allotted to his wife are seen, ironically, to be unbalanced, but completely in tune with Big Ben as a kind of Patriarch of Time, slicing and dicing time in to categorical pieces that suit the Empire. Complicating her critique of patria rchy, Woolf parodies Lady Bruton, who lost her son in the war and now has the reputation of talking like a man and being more interested in politics than people. She is described as having lost her sense of proportion, for she is now pushing for a great Emigration project involving the financing of young people of

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190 both sexes to settle in Canada and prosper. Her web of political conne ctions is great, as she engages in political manuevers with Rich ard under the portrait of the General in her family. Clarissa envies Lady Bruton for having lunch with Richard and for being able to engage in the political maneuve rs of the world of men. Clar issa cannot function at this level of power because of her lack of education and political connections. In scenes punctuated by the sounds of Big Ben, Clarissa meditates upon why she gives parties. They are an offering to life, a comb ination of people, a creation that men cannot understand, she feels. Clarissa is interrupted (again) by Miss Kilman, who has come to take Elizabeth to the Army and Navy Stores (the military allusion touches even Clarissa’s female offspring). Miss Kilman, who may also embody Woolf’s self-critique here, despises Clarissa and views her as a tissue of vanity and deceit. Herbert Marder sees Miss Kilman as problematic. Clarissa admires he r for her independence, but she is a woman whose emancipation is illusory; she has absorb ed the evils of patriarchy and embodies the dangers of a fanatical devotion to a cause, worshipping abstractions in her religious fervor and hating individuals. Woolf here may be warning that the feminist movement itself is not exempt from these dangers (Marder, Feminism and Art 94-96). Woolf often registers distrust of do-gooders who harbor, consciously or unconsciously, a will to power, an internal Hitlerism. The color of wa r pervades the last portion of Mrs. Dalloway more strongly. Septimus realizes that Rezia has concurred with Holmes and Bradshaw: he is to be sent to a rest home. He demands his writings, convers ations with Shakesp eare, the dead Evans who appears to him, musings on universal love : all must be destroyed. But the narrator says, “He did not want to die. Life was good. The sun hot. Only human beings--what did

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191 they want?” ( MD 149). The penultimate line is ironic because it is an allusion to Clarissa’s much-earlier meditation on Shakespe are’s words: “Far no more the heat o’ the sun.” Septimus stands upstairs at the larg e window in his Bloomsbury lodgings. With Holmes at the door, “‘I’ll give it to yo u!’” he cried, and flung himself vigorously, violently down on to Mrs. Filmer’s area railings” ( MD 149). Soon after, Peter hears the high bell of the ambulance, leading him to reflect how some poor devil had perhaps suddenly come to his death in the bu sy traffic of urban civilization. Has Septimus committed an act of heroic defiance in a world that has lost its humanity? Linden Peach argues that Septimus ’ lack of feeling for both men and women has been affected by his suppressed homosexua lity. Peach cites Baudrillard’s observation that the death of millions in war is justif ied within the broad system of symbolic exchange. Suicide reverses society’s econom ic norms because one is removing one’s capital from the system ( Virginia Woolf 111-12). Septimus’ death resonates with Clarissa’s feelings of unreality as the moment for her party arrives. The narrator tells us that, “now Clarissa escorted he r Prime Minister down the room, prancing, sparkling, with the statelin ess of her grey hair She wore ear-rings and a silver-green mermaid’s dress. Lolloping on the waves and braiding her tresses she seemed, having that gift still; to be; to exist; to sum it all up in the moment as she passed” ( MD 174). Yet, these social semblances seem ho llow to her now. She is not satisfied until the sight of a portrait reminds her of he r enemy, Miss Kilman, and thinks, “That was satisfying; that was real” and “It was enemies one wanted, not friends” ( MD 174-75). Contemporary theorists of ideology such as Ernesto Laclau argue for the necessity of constructing the Other, who dislocates one’s identity for purposes that ultimately serve

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192 one’s own desire for power (qtd. in Wors ham and Olson 137). Miss Kilman’s functioning as an enemy helps Clarissa to define he rself. Clarissa behaves like Septimus, who married Rezia because he feared otherwise he would not be able to feel anymore. It may be surprising to some readers that what Woolf depicts as feeling most real to Clarissa at this moment is hatred. Howeve r, at this point Clarissa wants to “other” Miss Kilman and enjoys mentally drawing a bright red chal k circle around this “o ther” to emphasize her own superior class status. Sally Seton has just insisted to Peter in this final scene that, Clarissa was at heart a snob—one had to admit it, a snob. And it was that that was between them, she was convinced. Claris sa thought she [Sally] had married beneath her, her husband being—she wa s proud of it—a miner’s son. Every penny they had he had earned. As a little boy (h er voice trembled) he had carried great sacks ( MD 190). Mrs. Hilbery tells Clarissa that she looks so like Clarissa’s mother, who also fulfilled a hostess role important to the politics of empire.43 Even Sir William Bradshaw is present at the party, the reader learning for the fi rst time that Clarissa once consulted him: another circle has been drawn around Clar issa and Septimus. When Lady Bradshaw explains that a young man who had been in the ar my just killed himsel f, the narrator says, “Oh! thought Clarissa, in the middle of my party, here’s death, she thought” ( MD 183). Christine Darrohn suggests that Woolf does not fully ironize this epiphanic moment, but reveals a conflicted response to Septimus’ death that involves th e loss of security in class privilege for the middle and upper classes, many of whom lost family members to the first major world war (“Woolf Constructing”100 -02). Clarissa thinks to herself: “Death was defiance. Death was an attempt to communicate. . ” ( MD 184). Clarissa does not

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193 pity the young man who killed himself. Time presses us all down to death, she seems to say in repeating the analogy of tim e to leaden circles. But she also sums up her feelings in this way: She felt somehow very like him—the young man who had killed himself. She felt glad that he had done it; thrown it away. The clock was striking. The leaden circles dissolved in the air. He made her feel the beauty; made her feel the fun. But she must go back She must assemble. She must find Sally and Peter. And she came in from the little room. ( MD 186) Because of passages like this, Howard Harper asserts that the final revelation toward which the dialectic of the nove l moves is the realization of the nature of Clarissa’s existence, a final unity emerging from a long se ries of diversities (129). Perhaps Woolf is suggesting that Clarissa’s psyc he has started to dissolve and that she must reassemble her patriarchically designated self in order to maintain sanity--indeed to escape the symbolic “little room” of death. The streak of domination or will-to-power in her becomes positive only when, faced with the real possibility of death, Clarissa decides to speak her own Fhrer -like “must” and gather her di sparate selves into one that will maintain life at this moment of confrontation with insanity and suicide. Laclau argues that social identities require conflict for their constitution. Violence of various kinds actually prevents social decl ine (316-17). Conflict may help individuals define themselves more sharply and maintain strong identities. In this scene Clarissa dominates with one part of her self over the “others” and app ears to choose the box marked “sanity.” She does so knowing its erroneous and narrow construction by a phallocentric, war-dominated society. For Makiko Minow-Pinkney, Clarissa’s internal

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194 divisions denote the difficult problem of women’s writing in an essentially masculine symbolic order, an order dependent upon the repression of women. To enter the symbolic game of men, women must constitute themselv es as split subjects. Thus Woolf does not radically destroy the laws of syntax in this novel, so that she can continue to play the game (82-83). Later she engages in a more significant departure from the conventional form of the novel in The Waves and in Between the Acts. The explicitly paired Clarissa and Se ptimus both suffer from the execrable effects of the violence of war. Both attempt to u nderstand its causes, though Septimus’ thoughts obviously exceed ordinary logic. Clarissa begi ns to perceive a gender politics of identity and domination extending to marital relations and ultimately to a nationalistic, colonial stance linked to war. She is trivialized in some ways by Woolf as a hostess, a supreme support system for her government official husband; however, the very trivialization powerfully speaks to the denigr ation of women and to the pa triarchal underpinnings of war. Much is left unsaid or remains in shadow. The corruption of space, time, and language itself in the service of war is suggest ed. Some commentary is veiled in a satire that depends upon imagery, techniques of interruption, ellipsis, and encoded, parodic commentary. Had Woolf lived in the postmodern er a, she would have explicitly identified “gender,” “sanity,” and “truth,” and “class” as contested terms. Mrs. Dalloway is an eloquent, subtle prelude to her later, more direct attacks upon priv ate and public fascism that leads to war and destroys the multiplici ty vital to the lives of human beings.

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195 CHAPTER SIX “I have already said all I have to say in my book Three Guineas.” Virginia Woolf. Unpublished letter dated 30 November 1938 to R. A. Scott James, editor of the London Mercury regarding a request to write an article on the same topic as E. M. Forster’s “Credo,” published in the London Mercury in September 1938. “ . O we’re all the same. Take myself now. Do I escape my own reprobation, simulating indignation, in the bush, among the leaves? There’s a rhyme to suggest, in spite of protestation and the desire for immolation, I too have had some, what’s called, education . Look at ourselves, ladies and gentlemen! Then at the wall; and ask how’s this wall, the great wall, which we call, perhaps miscall, civilization, to be built by (here the mirrors flicked and flashed) orts, scraps and fragments like ourselves?” —Miss La Trobe in Woolf’s Between the Acts (187-88). MISS LA TROBE GAZES INTO HER OWN MIRRORS44: WHAT WE CAN LEARN ABOUT CLASS FROM WOOLF Woolf has been extolled for her critique of the imperialist project, her understanding of the relationship of war to the private tyrannies of the home, and her attempts to develop a uniquely feminine writing style. She has been lauded for her interest in the common reader and for her sensitive explora tion of the complexities of issues of biography and character development in fiction. Woolf is now classified as one of the great, ground-breaking modernists, and some critics claim that she exhibits strong postmodernist tendencies as well. Her infl uence upon many other wr iters--Toni Morrison, Jeanette Winterson, and Zadie Smith are a fe w examples--is indisputable. However, as this study has attempted to demonstrate, her ro le as a feminist and her treatment of class issues remain contested, with various critics taking diverse positions, and with American and British readers not always reaching consensus on this point. Indeed, Woolf’s reputation has been harmed historic ally by several powerful critics. The Hours a 1998 film based on Michael Cunningham’s novel, did little to improve Woolf’s stereotype as a neurasthenic, depressed victim who eventually committed suicide. The film opens with

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196 the suicide scene, which is repeated later in full cinematic detail. Scenes of Woolf’s attendance at social reform society meetings or of her talks at a women’s college or of her brilliant socializing at partie s are not presented. The one pl us is perhaps a kindling of interest in Woolf’s writing a nd effective placement of Woolf’s name in front of the public; unfortunately the real person behi nd the name remains narrowly drawn. Molly Hite observes in a 2003 post to the Virginia Woolf Interna tional listserv that the image of Woolf as an elitist s nob is still with us: “The re pressed Woolf seems of a piece with the snobbish, hysterical, limited writer purveyed with tremendous success by F.R. and Q.D. Leavis at Cambridge (a nd still with us in the current Pelican Guide to Literature )” (1). F.R. and Q.D. Leavis are well-known to Woolf scholars for their negative and long-lasting e ffect upon Woolf’s reputation.45 Elaine Showalter also famously presented Woolf as an elitist w ho made no significant contribution to the feminist social movement. It is unfortunate that this stereotype persists, despite discussions of Woolf and cla ss in the last two decades by critics such as Natania Rosenfeld, Michael Tratner, Georgia Johnston, Jeanette McVicker, Patrick McGee, Anna Snaith, Melba Cuddy-Keane, and others. Toril Mo i offers a rebuttal to Showalter, stating that Woolf’s radical narrative practices cont ribute a significant pol itical intervention, a position with which I agree. Moi also notes the extent to which Woolf undermines the notion of the unitary self—certainly a politic ally-charged epistemo logical move. I have suggested that in doing so Vi rginia Woolf also undermines the notion of a unitary class system. Recent, long-overdue and more extensive examinations of the class issue in Woolf studies generally look at one specific work of Woolf’s or a specific genre of her writing

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197 (for example, Cuddy-Keane’s 2004 study of Wool f’s essays). Several critics engage the imbrication of class and war, an important lin e of inquiry which I investigated in chapter five. I believe it is vital to fill in the gaps with regard to Woolf’s treatment of class. Therefore I have emphasized misunderstandings of her class positionality and her use of satire in her early work, as well as her de velopment up to her middle period and against the backdrop of her late r non-fiction masterpiece, Three Guineas I contend that many aspects of her later development are present in more than embryonic form in her early thinking, and that examining this early work in relation to cla ss theory is useful in seeing how she developed in her treatment of cl ass issues. Understanding Woolf’s early wrestling with the relation between gender a nd class, her conception of both self and class as fluid, her recognition of the difficulties in extricating oneself from the chalk circles of class, and the intens e need for the self-protective veil of satire all help readers to see that she did not simply bask in supposed blueblood status until prodded by Leonard or by the social changes br ought on by war. Hers was a lif elong struggle to be “in the true” in Foucault’s sense—to gather in all of reality, not excluding the warts even of her own biases and sharp-tongued unpleasantness. Woolf was never part of the aristo cracy, and she broke class rules by setting up housekeeping in Bloomsbury and living a bohemi an life. This Bloomsbury outsider then married a Jewish man who himself suffered marg inalization. Nonethel ess, Woolf is not a simple case, for she also engages in backslidi ng and in a strong nostalgia for the stability and civility of the Victorian past. She is at tracted to structured class divisions because they represent safe, known norms of behavior for someone who suffered some degree of

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198 sexual trauma and more than one nervous br eakdown. These same class divisions help to guarantee the leisure tim e for her writing. I would like to further situate Woolf’s early work in th e context of her later examinations of class in order to emphasize how Woolf’s treatment of class changes over time. Ann Fernald observes that “Class Distin ctions,” an unpublished Woolf essay tucked into the manuscript of The Voyage Out and miscataloged for a long time, shows just how far Woolf was in 1912 from her posit ion twenty-five years later in Three Guineas In this early relic of Edwardian Bloo msbury, Woolf writes as an insi der discussing the definition of the word “gentleman.” She moves between “we” and “you,” ironic ally not revealing her own sex and thus her exclusion from the category of “gentleman.” Only later in her career, when she becomes aware of the pr ice of adopting the voi ce of the gentleman essayist, does she insist on the radical connection between familial and national politics (3), and between gender-inflected class a nd the definition of what it means to be “civilized” in Britain. Though Woolf often re mains conflicted, her treatment of class issues matures, changing from criticisms of social class embedded in the reveries of characters unlikely to be identified with her, to overt social critique in Three Guineas and The Years The Years may be plain in its critique only to discerning readers, for many in Woolf’s time seem to have missed the extent of her cri ticism in this relative ly popular novel. As I noted earlier, Woolf’s chil dhood writing adopts a satiric tone in her family’s amateur publication, The Hyde Park Gate News She continues in this vein with A Cockney’s Farming Experiences,46 a precocious piece that links marriage and class issues. Even early adult sketches, such as “Carlyle’s House,”47 reveal a definite satiric bent. But Woolf

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199 begins in Horatian mode: gently, tentativ ely, carefully—at least on the surface. Deep dissatisfaction with the status quo may be disc erned underneath, particularly with regard to the status of women. I be lieve that Woolf feared disso lution of her ego after her traumatic experiences of sexual abuse and of the early deaths of her mother, half-sister, and brother (later her father as well and then nephew, Julian, in the war). Scholars disagree about the degree of sexual abuse; however, few have questioned its harmful effects on Woolf, who sought therapy for the events in later years. This fear was compounded by actual mental breakdowns that s eemed more severe in her early years. Her diffuse psychic boundaries led her to seek definition, a coherent sense of self. The boundaries of her social class, then, formed a protective as well as a constrictive fence. Her later work is marked by an incr eased confidence in expressing her views and a realization, nascent in The Voyage Out and Night and Day, of the strong role played by class position in forming each person’s cl ass view—in the root sense of providing paradigms for practical living. This realizat ion strengthens the perceptiveness and depth of her class critique. Initially she fears bei ng laughed at by family and friends. She also fears an inability to establish herself as a writer if she antagonizes the very individuals who might publish or favorably review her work. Later success empowers more directness in her social critique. However, her key ideas were incipient in many early works. For example, Melymbrosia, essentially the first manuscript version of The Voyage Out, reveals more direct, unmistakable so cial criticism not reflecte d in the final version of the novel, where Rachel is presented as an excessively nave girl, and where more biting social criticism is voiced by male character s like Terence Hewet and St John Hirst. The language of silence, which Patricia Lauren ce speaks about so eloquently in her book, is

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200 practiced by the heroine here, a nd also by Katharine Hilbery in Night and Day where much of what Katharine wants is vocali zed by Ralph Denham. Despite Katharine’s emergence in this second novel as a stronger character than Rachel, it is only in later works that Woolf fully claims her own voice. Natania Rosenfeld argues that Woolf’s famous “web technique,” linking the minds of disparate people and their subjectivities, is al so one that underlines the skeleton of class division beneath an interwove n fabric. References to ra ilings and fences enforce proportion and become a border between “p lots” (topographical and narrative), the character of Septimus being seen as a “bor der case” (139-42). Rose nfeld quotes a passage from the Diary (III 104) in which Woolf analyzes he r instinct to throw up “screens” of judgment regarding other people (in this diar y entry, lower-class sun-burnt girls). Woolf recognizes these screens as barriers to co mmunication but observes that these same screens may serve as devices to preserve one’s sanity, for separateness would be impossible if we constantly sympathized with all people at all times (qtd. in Rosenfeld 143-44). In effect I have expanded upon such insights to illustrate how Woolf sometimes clung to the skeleton of class because it offered a definition of ego boundaries that otherwise became dangerously fluid. After publication of The Voyage Out and Night and Day, Woolf becomes increasingly sensitive to the extent to the way women are socialized to quash their thoughts and feelings because of economic depe ndence upon men, along with the unspoken expectations of gender. Jacob’s Room is Woolf’s first radical experiment with a novel form largely developed by male authors; she interrogates gender and class issues in the process. Jeanette McVicker contends that Woolf’s early short story, “Kew Gardens”

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201 (1919), demonstrates “a capsulized version of Woolf’s critique of Empire” (“Vast Nests” 41). I agree and believe W oolf does so in a fascinatingly modern, oblique, and impressionistic manner. Mrs Dalloway reflects an advance in self-critique, one pushed to the borders of indeterminacy by her later experimental novel, The Waves (1931) Mrs. Dalloway employs a Joycean stream-of-consciousness technique for presenting the thoughts of Peter, Clarissa, and Septimus, t houghts that contain exp licit social critique but at the remove of reverie. The effects are unquestionabl y blunted with this fictive technique. According to Brian Shaffer, Cliv e Bell’s idea of the f unction of class in Civilization48 is treated parodically and subverted in Mrs. Dalloway This argument supports my contention that Woolf employed satire in he r novels from early to mid-career as a protective measure in critiquing British so ciety. As I have argued, Woolf clearly knew the general tenor of the arguments in Bell’s book long before its publication. Later, in Orlando (1928) and Flush (1933), the gloves come off, and hard-hitting satire is used. Orlando outrageously satirizes gender categories themselves, foreshadowing Judith Butler’s theories of ge nder as performance and demonstrating class as performance as well. Even here, howe ver, Woolf mutes some of the effect by employing humor and fantasy. Flush brilliantly uses the figure of Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s dog to poke fun at the rigidities of the class syst em in Britain, and utilizes footnotes on the hidden life of Lily Wils on, Barrett-Browning’s maid, to provide both social satire and satire of male literary formats.49 Three Guineas however, is Woolf’s real manifesto, where she forthrightly claims her right to critique an en tire social structure that, in material fact, suppor ts not only the enterprise of war, but a whole system of

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202 damaging gender domination. As Naomi Black points out, Three Guineas “is the clearest, most explicit statement of Woolf’s feminism”( 7). Black says that, for Woolf, “war is only one of the products, admittedly one of the worst products, of a system of power and domination that has its roots in gender hierarchy. That hier archy, and all others, are the targets of her feminism” (7). Woolf continues to ex plore the silence of women in all of her novels, expanding her interrogation in To the Lighthouse and Between the Acts (1941). Miss La Trobe in Between the Acts is intriguing for her apparent cla sslessness and outsider status. This final novel skewers the notions of a stable subjec t, society, and or even a stable history. It seems postmodern, particularly in its empha sis on the self-referentiality of language. Woolf’s own social class and Woolf herself, w ho is implicated in the figure of Miss La Trobe, are satirized. Georgia J ohnston contrasts Brechtian an d Aristotelian performance methods in this novel, arguing that Miss La Trobe undermines and exposes class divisions by means of her performance tech niques. Class is the foundation for battles between Mrs. Manresa and Miss La Trobe. Miss La Trobe does not wish to conform to set behavior patterns but instead attempts to expose the class system as one that promotes division through codes, and she tr ies to manipulate class structur e in order to be accepted. Bartholomew and Giles own Pointz Hall but ar e not descendants of the builders of the manor. All four of these characters suggest that class lines are no longer stable. Mrs. Manresa makes people conscious of the power and instability of class structure by speaking of what has previously remained uns aid in polite circles; however, as Johnston notes, Mrs. Manresa opposes cl ass structure in a manner that is a pose for her own class only. (That is, only in front of her own class does she identify herself with her servants.)

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203 Through Mrs. Manresa, Woolf reveals class convention as performance (61-65). Johnston contends that “Woolf shows the artist outside the construction of individuality and class; indeed the ability to create art depend s on transgression of individual and class restrictions” (65-66). I suggest that this position is exactly what Woolf aimed for as her writing developed. Miss La Trobe forces the audience to beco me part of the performance by having all characters on stage hold mirrors that are turned upon audience members at a strategic point in the performance. Through this figure, Woolf suggests the need to recognize that we are all complicit at any part icular point in history, wrapped up in our own paradigm of class, monied power st ructures, and behavioral expectations. As emphasized in this study, the effects of class are e ssential to Woolf’s identity and to her psychosexual maturation. She gradually realizes her own internalized functioning as an individual interpellated into a patr iarchal ideology, one essentially supporting war, and only then recognizes her inevitable complic ity in structures of oppression. even as she critiques them. Jeanette McVicker, in a 1996 article,contends th at Woolf’s increasing involvement in the social, political, cultural, and economic issues that were part of the public sphere in the late 1920s to early 1930s made her more aware of way ideology functioned. Woolf was implicated because of her class in the hegemony of that dominant culture, and one might read her increasing focus on androgyny in A Room of One’s Own and in Orlando as a deepening recogniti on of this fact. However, for McVicker, Woolf’s defining interventions into the public sphere are reflected in her texts and speeches of 1930-32, the introductory letter to Life as We Have Known It the speech before the London/National Society for Women’s Service,50 and the six essays for the Good Housekeeping series on “the London Scene ” (published in 1931-32). McVicker claims

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204 that in the six essays, Woolf links class and gender oppression more often and more explicitly than in her previous work. This difference, I hope, has been shown in this study, for initially Woolf did not recognize the extent of the systemic nature of the oppression. McVicker also notes that in her 1930 letter prefacing Life as We Have Known It Woolf calls attention to he r own class status and ar gues that the domestic and public spheres are interdepende nt; in her WomenÂ’s Service speech Woolf points out the vital importance of killing off the Angel in the House, who symbolizes the hegemonic order upheld by the dominant Vi ctorian culture (30-34). Such direct statements were not possi ble for the early Woolf. However, WoolfÂ’s views were developing along these same lines and we re simply expressed in the spaces between characters and words, with much greater us e of indirection, satire, and techniques of interruption. It is as though the stitching of WoolfÂ’s ear ly thought and writing was loose and exploratory, only to tighten and define itself more clearly with regard to class issues as she matured. Yet, one can never say that Woolf is any one thing, since she continues throughout her career to remain ever open to the flux of life in true postmodernist fashion. She is also always already highly c ognizant of the boxes of language that often impede accurate expression of thought. Woolf hated generalizations on class a nd on other matters. She disliked being called a feminist, though she worked on important femi nist causes. Basicall y, she disliked the rigidity of labels for anyone. She even ha ted do-gooders who did not see their own ego involvement in helping others, and she suspect ed that every reformer concealed a fascist within. This idea mandated a painful look at her own class position in writing about necessary social reform in works like Three Guineas Woolf promoted the importance of

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205 the individual versus mass conformity and a belief in non-hierarchi cal, loosely-organized individual efforts. She stressed th e importance of intellectual freedom51 and would have despised the contemporary culture of political correctness. Importantl y, she believed that freedom was class-dependent and that it was determined by whether or not one was economically independent. Woolf’s relation to class is complicated by several factors. These very complications, however, teach us important things both about Woolf and about class. The first is the elusive nature of class itself. Social theori sts from Max Weber in Woolf’s time to Gary Day in our own century have emphasized the ch anging definition of class in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in particular. The biggest change applicable to Woolf’s era was the shift from a land-based class system to one based on status, a foundation that continues to change in contemporary capitalis t societies. Sharon O’Dair claims that both E. M. Forster’s Howards End and Mrs. Dalloway demonstrate that inequality is not only a matter of class defined in terms of one’s re lationship to production, but also a matter of prestige, defined for the most part in term s of a person’s relationship to consumption— i.e. in terms of one’s lifestyle or culture. Furthermore, the relati on between status and class, between culture and economy, is co mplicated. Status acqui sition is linked to material conditions of life but is not simply a reflection or superstruc tural effect of class (337-44).52 O’Dair reminds us how visionary Wool f was even in her early thinking about class. Woolf is concerned about the new c onsumerism, and she appears conflicted over this point, for along with Clive Bell, she f ears that a new striving for wealth and an excessive business work ethic will destroy civilized life. In Rosemary Hennessy’s terms, Woolf views class as a set of social relations that underg ird capitalism; yet she also

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206 paradoxically perceives class divisions as support beams for the superstructure of civilization. A second problem is the internalized na ture of class conditioning, an important aspect of class examined by Bourdieu, Althusser, and ot hers. It is this very gender-nuanced class conditioning that Woolf struggled mightily against from a young age. Nancy Hartsock and others have argued that staking a position of marginality is the best way to examine and fight against a system of domination. Wool f engages in this fight with the classic weapon of the marginalized: satire. She continues to wield the weapon of satire, sometimes flamboyantly (as in Orlando ), throughout her career, finding class and classrelated gender divisions themselves a fertile source of derision. However, the advantages of this positionality were not entirely cl ear to her until later in her career. Natania Rosenfeld (2000) has studied the outsider pos ition staked by both Virginia and Leonard in detail. Rosenfeld contends that Woolf’ s “alliance to an impecunious Jew with the highest connections in British academe a nd politics multiplied and illuminated the contradictions in her own iden tity and politics” (3). For instance, Rosenfeld observes that Leonard was a former colonial administrato r but developed an an ti-imperialist stand, becoming an active socialist involved with questions of feminism and international relations. He also experienced a divided cl ass and ethnic identity, for he vacillated between pride and rejection of his heritage Woolf was privileged in her background but suffered exclusion because of gender; Le onard was excluded through background but privileged by his gender. Together they enacted border crossings (3-4). I believe Virginia’s marriage to Leonard contributed si gnificantly to her thinking on class. She had already made keen observations about the da maging nature of patriarchy in early short

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207 stories and sketches and in The Voyage Out and she had developed feminist views before her 1912 marriage. However, her intimate relationship with Leonard, both emotional and intellectual, pushed her views in the directi on of fresh questioning of any kind of rigid categorization. She realized only later that complete escape from one’s insider position was never possible. A third difficulty in investigating classi sm in Woolf is the existence of a very large corpus that now includes published diaries and letters--in addition to her essays, reviews, short stories, novels, and a play. Some of her comments in letters and diaries, including snobbish or otherwise negative statements, were likely never intended for publication. Nonetheless, these have been mined in deta il, so that critics are propelled into the difficulty of deciding how much weight to give private commentar y on class issues. A fourth problem is the nature of Woolf’s own protean self and the te ndency of modernist writers to situate themselves within a space of indeterminacy. Still, some conclusions can be offered. Primarily, Woolf teaches that one’s th inking and acting are profoundly affected by the class into which one is born and bred. On e can become conscious of some of these elements and transcend them to some extent, but never fully. One is always an insider, even if one develops—as Woolf did—the ab ility to step outside the glass box of a particular class. One cannot know intimately individuals from another class. Woolf was plagued in her later years by recognition of th e limitations this fact placed on her as a writer. Woolf was sometimes embarrassed, for example, about her sketches of lowerclass characters, fearing a lack of verisimilit ude in relating their inner lives, to which she was not privy.

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208 Early on, Woolf admits outright her la ck of understanding of the lives of working women. However, her willingness to assist a nd actively encourage the publication of the stories of the working lives of women speak s volumes about her honesty. At the end of her life, Woolf can be found eavesdropping in a re staurant in order to gain insight (and perhaps snatches of dialog) for a short st ory based on lower-class characters. Heather Levy analyzes Woolf’s field work in this regard in her study (2004) of Woolf’s “The Watering Place” and “The Ladies Lavatory.” Levy demonstrates patte rns of idealization, elision, and even derision at some points in Woolf’s presentation of working-class and lesbian individuals. Again, Woolf is a quint essential modernist in some respects, sometimes impossible to pin down at a give n moment and demonstrating contradictory beliefs and behavior. Furthermore, as George Orwell demonstr ates, to abolish class is to abolish part of yourself, for class pervasively forms your tastes, habits, and life. Nonetheless, periodically stepping ou tside one’s chalk circle53 is essential in or der to recognize one’s own biases and limitations. In Woolf’s early career, the constricti ng nature of class boundaries prevented recognition of the full exte nt of her own complicity in maintaining class structures. Woolf had a stake in her own class interest; for one thing, she could not even expect to be published if she did not ma intain positive relationships with important reviewers, publishers, and frie nds and family related to this enterprise. Later the Hogarth Press guaranteed precious freedom of thought and expression. She also relied upon an educated readership, particularly for her m odernist experiments with narrative form and extensive exploration of her characters’ inne r consciousness. In later years, however, she engaged in solid efforts to promote the common reader, believing passionately in the

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209 importance, if not the necessity, of encourag ing ordinary citizens to educate themselves by critical reading and thinking. Her belief in separating didacticism from art also played a role in her partially covert engagement in a politics of language and epistemology. Woolf unquestioningly demonstrates that class is more nuanced for women than for men, involving distinct gender differences rela ted to economic status (lack of) education, and marriage. Class status can also be aff ected by Sapphist inclinations, by childlessness, by the manner in which the aging proce ss for women is socially constructed. Mrs. Dalloway and Orlando as well as various short storie s--such as “Lappin and Lapinova” and “[The Journal of Mistress Joan Mart yn]”--investigate these issues in detail. Orlando foregrounds the fact, for example, that Vita Sackville-West could not inherit the family estate of Knole becau se of her gender. Three Guineas deals explicitly with all of these gender-nuanced class issues. Woolf vacillates in her position on cla ss, revealing ambivalence about social position and access to economic means of support. Susan Squier notes that, in the final essay for The London Scene Woolf appears to di sguise her woman’s outsider position with the unchallenging tones of the insider, though sh e explicitly joins cla ss and sexual oppression in the spatial imagery used for her portr ait of the Carlyle house (496-99). However, Squier believes that even though Woolf is tempted to identify with the security represented by the insider world (rational, ordered London connected with the literary elite), she eventually sides with the freedom and vitality of the outsider. Thus she ultimately affirms the worth and dignity of the working class in a number of these essays, where she overtly joins gender re lations to class relations (488 -91). I concur with Squier

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210 that Woolf discovers her freedom in her very marginalization and that ultimately Woolf deliberately chooses this position.54 Later in life Woolf ac knowledges difficultie s with her writing because of her inherited class position. Her sometimes st erile upper-class char acters and shadowy renderings of lower-class characters (family se rvants, for example, are almost completely invisible in earlier work) show the difficulty of attaining a deep understanding of a class beneath or above one’s own. To wit, in the early Night and Day Woolf appears not even interested in investigating the lives of servan ts because they are completely relegated to the novel’s background, though they clearly ar e important to the family life of the Hilberys. In her 1928 essay, “The Niece of an Ea rl,” Woolf declares that English fiction would be unrecognizable without cl ass distinctions and that so ciety can be compared to a “nest of glass boxes” that keeps classes sepa rated, unable to fully understand one another intimately. Consequently, fiction does not pr ovide insight into the highest or lowest classes because these classes do not write about themselves. She also states that English fiction is highly dependent upon class differen ces for its humor and that in a classless society of the future, the novel may be unrecognizable. Furthermore, as Woolf emphasizes in her late-career essay on class, “The Leaning Tower” (1940), writers reflect class divisions in theme, fo rm, and style, even if not directly analyzing class. He re Woolf criticizes young lef tists--such as W.H. Auden--who claim solidarity with the working class while still enjoying upper-class privileges, and she envisions a classless societ y that could lead to the e nd of the novel as she knows it. Woolf does not explicitly discuss syntax a nd vocabulary differences in detail, but she does recognize the need for “a woman’s sent ence” and aims for freedom from linguistic

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211 masculine bias as her career progresses.55 This is a partially im possible task, as Rita Felski has pointed out in Beyond Feminist Aesthetics: Fe minist Literature and Social Change (1989). Felski’s analysis of “masculine” and “feminine” texts concludes that “feminine” texts must be read as a complex dialectic of meaning production that involves class and other historical fact ors, and not just gender. Anna Snaith observes that the strength of Woolf’s argument in Three Guineas derives precisely from Woolf’s cons ciousness of the limitations of her own class position, contending that Woolf’s notion of audience was indeed democr atic and that letters kept by Woolf from respondents to Three Guineas reveal how mixed her reading public was in terms of class. To Snaith, Woolf also situates herself outside rather than within the tower of literature in “The Leaning Tower” and clai ms that literature is no one’s private ground. Here she also writes for and about the common reader in advocating public libraries, and she advocates a non-hierarchical, two-way dialog between a writer and the common reader (“Virginia Woolf” 219-20). Snaith notes that forty-nine of th e extant fifty-eight respondents to Woolf’s Three Guineas are self-identified as members of the working class and are predominantly positive in respons e. In most cases, the respondents praise Woolf for strongly and accurately describing their experiences of inequality. Many argue that the text should reach a wider working-class audience and should, in fact, become mandatory reading. They would seem to dispro ve the charge that the book was of little relevance at the time of its publication excep t to Woolf and her friends. Furthermore, the letters extend Woolf’s text in a sense, and they are also evidence of Woolf’s own public position as an intellectual (“ Virginia Woolf” 221-24).

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212 Woolf sheds light on the importance of salvaging “civilization” and thinking critically about what should constitute ci vilized society. As I discusse d earlier, she was influenced by Clive Bell’s Civilization a reflection on the chief com ponents of civilization that relied heavily upon an ideali zed Greek model. Along with Bell, many in Bloomsbury believed that one should make only enough mone y for adequate leisure to contemplate the finer things in life. Leisure related to the ability to write, a conflicted class issue dissected by Patrick McGee in his 1992 article on The Waves (1931), where he notes that the figure of the lady writing in that novel is an ambivalent one enabled by the servant class. I suggest that this desire for th e leisure to pursue th e “good life”creates an impossible dialectic of elitism coexisting w ith egalitarian democracy. I do not believe that Woolf could resolve this issue. Woolf shows how class divisions constrict development of the individual and hamper the ability to communicate. A prime example is the repression caused by fear of being laughed at for lapses in social etiquette, as in Woolf’s famous short story, “The New Dress,” where even the name of the main character, Mabel Waring, appears to play on worries about “what Mabel is wearing.” This sense of not measuring up can create an invisible class boundary marker. I hope this st udy has demonstrated, especially in the close examinations of class issues in The Voyage Out and in Night and Day that Woolf was keenly aware of the constrictive nature of class divisions from the time of her earliest writing. Woolf demonstrates that social class is constructed by means of patriarchal practice-especially in The Voyage Out, in Night and Day, in Three Guineas, and in short stories such as “Lappin and Lapinova.” She illustrates Ju liet Mitchell’s claim that patriarchy

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213 depends upon men exchanging women in ma rriage. Thus, Woolf would agree that women are colonized subjects even in a capit alist system. Woolf es tablishes connections between patriarchy, mental illness, marriage, war, and empire as early as Mrs. Dalloway a work that should be consid ered a distinct prelude to Three Guineas Rita Felski contends that not all patriarchal elements are oppressive, that one should not hypothesize an essence of femininity, and that categories like class are too simple because class is a complex dialectic. But Woolf escapes Felski ’s critique because she uncovers exactly what elements of patriarchy are most oppressive: those limiting education and professional advancement for women and t hose advocating war. Woolf also avoids essentializing women, recogni zing individual differences, as well as important class differences, and she does not fi nd the category of class anyt hing but a complex dialectic. Woolf nonetheless eventually groups women as a class sharing th e general burden of fewer economic and educational opportunities— and thus truncated psychological, social, and intellectual development—as a result of a general system of patr iarchy connected to empire and war. They are a class of their own trained to fawn over male egos, often thanklessly to maintain the emotional lives of families, to endure constant interruption of their tasks, and to accept the constant monitoring of prot ective male figures. They do indeed share commonalities despite the histor ic specificity inflecting their particular location on the grid of class. Yet Woolf was periodically conflicted over unwillingness to abandon an attraction for a certain degree of material wealth. As Sa lly Alexander observes in a discussion of Three Guineas Woolf admits after attending a Women’ s Co-operative Guild meeting in 1913 that laws that women wanted passed (l aws addressing minimum wage, labor-saving

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214 appliances, maternity, and housing, among othe rs) “‘would not touch a hair of my comfortable, capitalist head’” (281). W oolf’s comment highlights recognition of her separation from working class women and bot h her comfort and discomfort in that separation. Nonetheless, she unquestionably expended effort to work toward the betterment of this class of women, as well as the “unedu cated daughters of uneducated men”—a class she ironically partially escap ed later in life by becoming the common reader she championed. Granted, Leslie Stephen’s tutelage in the setting of his large library provided a fine head start, but sh e was largely self-educated by virtue of her extensive reading. Woolf’s self-edu cation involved immersion in the cl assics and in Britain’s long and illustrious literary history, but this also la rgely meant immersion in patriarchal language and thought. Woolf laments that history has lost the cont ributions of many anonymous women and spotlights the truncated career of Shakespeare’s hypothetical sister in A Room of One’s Own. She is adamant in her conclusion that women suffer serious social limitations when they lack a good education. Sh e worries about the undesirable effects of the kind of standardization required by trends toward democracy, for she values highly the uniqueness of the individual, but she st resses the importance of the common reader more and more strongly as her career deve lops. Woolf ultimately radically promotes critical thinking and reading in her writing practice by uncov ering the dominant sexist, racist, classist ideology of her time. Mark Hussey reminds us that in “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown” (1923) Woolf clearly contends that “‘reality’ is an ideological construct, for if you tell people for long enough that all men have humps and women tails, sh e says, eventually they will believe it and

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215 will accuse you of heresy if you suggest ot herwise” (qtd. in Hussey, “Hiding Behind” 11). That class is also related to race and politics is a conclusion Woolf illustrates in novels such as Flush where dog class divisions, racial purity as linked to the high and low purity of aristocracy, fascism, and eugenics merge to form a text highly political in a covert way. The Jewish question prominent in British politics of the 1930s is also dealt with extensively in The Years Beatrice Webb emphasizes in her essay “The Drawbacks of Democracy” that the magic of political de mocracy for any race is the enlargement of the human personality and a loss of the sens e of inferiority (184). This was Leonard’s belief, as a person dealing with class resentment related to his Jewish heritage, and one shared by Virginia; both worked to further the cause of democracy for societies around the globe. Furthermore, in “Women and Fict ion,” a 1929 essay, Woolf writes of a future where women will write not simply of clashi ng emotions but about clashing classes and races (CE II 147). In a new biography of D.H. Lawren ce (2005), John Worthen argues that Lawrence was not notably anti-Semitic and certainly not as bad as Pound or Eliot. It is worth remembering that Woolf wrote her major work in a general climate of anti-Semitism in Britain, not just among the literati but among the general public. She cannot be excused for engaging in damaging racial slurs even in her early life and wor k, but its seriousness must be placed in the cont ext of attitudes commonly held by her peers and judged also against maturation in her later treatment of race and class. I agree with David Bradshaw that Woolf’s later resistance to bigotry ag ainst Jews—apart from the significance of the love and longevity of her marriage to a marginalized Jewish man—has not been adequately examined or appreciated. As Bradshaw points out, she forges links among

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216 various exclusions: homosexuals, servants, women, the colonized, and Jews. She eventually admits the shameful nature of her own ethnic bias and takes pains to underscore the value of a marginalized sta ndpoint position outside the dominant social order. Woolf’s early work, set in the context of her midpoint masterpiece of Mrs. Dalloway and her late-career Three Guineas demonstrates a continuous thread of concern with a nexus of class and gender issues. Gary Day c ontends that class has been ignored for at least twenty years in literary studies, stating the value of its primacy over other kinds of identity politics and a theory as to why a sy stem of domination shoul d develop at all: “In short, class provides an account of the origin of inequality from which other forms of oppression arise. ‘Lit erature’ is one of those form s of oppression, but it also has the potential to transcend the mechanism of exchange with which it is otherwise so unwittingly complicit” (18). Woolf explores the i ssue of class as an origin of inequality, but she explores it in a gender-nuanced manner, teaching us that class is a particularly unstable demarcation for women. Admittedly, Woolf emphasizes the cla ss of the “uneducated daughters of educated men” most strongly in her class analysis, fo r that is where her stake in her own class interest is strongest. But Wool f worries about the larger in ternalized nature of class oppression, its relationship to la nguage itself, and its effects of alienation and general negative impact upon one’s psychological de velopment. She reflects a sense of the modernist indeterminacy of her period and some personal need to retain class boundaries. She is concerned with the effects of war upon class dissolution, for sh e feels connected to a sense of “Englishness” and a need to pres erve civilization, howev er contested the two

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217 concepts might be. Perhaps inevitably, W oolf performs her own class by the very language she uses. To her cred it, she recognizes that one cannot know fully a class above or beneath one’s own. She calls for a truly feminine sentence and demonstrates an associative, digressive style that counters a more prevailing direct, masculine pattern. She uses satire as an effective tool to expose the social system at its worst in the texts highlighted in this study. Ultimately, I believe her satire is turned upon herself in the figure of Miss La Trobe in Woolf’ s posthumously-published final novel, Between the Acts (1941). Miss La Trobe is a childless, possibly lesbian, outsider who has been directing the villagers in a pl ay, which at a critical point involves the actors turning mirrors upon the audience. In this tour de force of class, gender, wa r, and the pageant of English history—against the backdrop of the beginnings of civiliza tion itself—Miss La Trobe peers into her own mirror, figuratively speaking, and di scovers that she herself is part of the game, part of the audience, part of the play. By this very action, both Woolf and her character champion the common reader (and listener) by educating him and her in critical thinking, viewing, and reading. This common reader effort, continued on many other fronts in her lifetime, is perhaps her fi nest contribution to a more democratic but discrimating society, free from the worst eff ects of classism. Woolf was at work on yet another novel when she died, a nove l tellingly and tentatively titled Anon

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218 ENDNOTES CHAPTER ONE: 1 A term used by Katherine C. Hill in “Virginia Woolf and Leslie Stephen and Literary Revolution.” PMLA 96 (1981), p. 360, to describe the influence of Stephen’s agnostic rationalism upon his daughters, especially regarding their participation in the cultural rebelliousness central to bohemian Bloomsbury during the early part of the twentieth century. 2 Found in the Mrs. Dalloway manuscript, this story was published posthumously in 1965 in the Times Literary Supplement and again in 1966 by the Hogarth Press. It was reissued in 1991 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich under the title Nurse Lugton’s Curtain 3 See Kathy J. Phillips in Virginia Woolf against Empire (Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 1994) for good background on this point. 4 Examples are Crosby in The Years and Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s maid in Flush 5 Lyndall Gordon, for instance, interprets Woolf’s understanding of the fin as that which is unknown or only half-glimpsed. See p. 235 and p. 238 in Virginia Woolf: A Writer’s Life New York: Norton, 1984. 6 Woolf, Virginia. Letters to Janet Case, Madge Vaughn, Violet Dickinson, Lady Ottoline Morrell (Lee 304). 7 This famous quote appears in Virginia Woolf’s The Diary of Virginia Woolf, III Ed. Anne Olivier Bell. New York: Harcourt, 1980, p. 108. 8 Virginia Woolf in “A Sketch of the Past” in Moments of Being Ed. Jeanne Schulkind. Sussex: U of Sussex, 1976, p. 136. 9 From Vanessa Bell’s Notes on Virginia’s Childhood. New York: Frank Hallman, 1974, p. 7. 10 Virginia Woolf. A Writer’s Diary: Being Extracts from the Diary of Virginia Woolf. Ed. Leonard Woolf. London: Hogarth, 1972, p. 57. CHAPTER TWO: 11 I disagree with Louise DeSalvo over the extent to which she believes that readers should connect numerous other aspects of Woolf’s writing to incidents of possible sex abuse in her early life. Though it provides valuable insight and background, DeSalvo’s book in some respects seems a totalizing, overly simplified, and problematic account. Nonetheless, I do agree that Woolf’s writing reveals the effects of trauma. 12 The title was supplied by Susan M. Squier and Louise A. DeSalvo in their introduction to the publication of this Woolf story in Twentieth Century Literature 25:3/4 (Fall/Winter 1979): 237-69. 13 Woolf’s dating in this story seems a little awry Since Miss Merridew refers to being known at Oxford and Cambridge universities, she probably lives in at least the latter part of the nineteenth, if not the twentieth, century. This does not match with the fact that John Martyn’s grandmother, Mistress Joan, is referred to as living in the medieval period. In addition, John says that Joan kept the journal in 1480 but was born in 1495. Woolf may here intend to mock the obsession of the typical historian with dates, or she may simply have made a mistake she would have rectified later. However, there are other date and age discrepancies, so I believe that Woolf may indeed be satirizing the male historian’s excessive preoccupation with these relatively sterile numbers, es pecially at the expense of accounts of real-life, obscure women. 14 Hereafter, references to The Complete Shorter Fiction will be abbreviated as CSF 15 Brenda Silver believes that this story of Woolf’s presents many themes that recur in her later work, and Louise DeSalvo concurs. See Silver article, p. 651 in The Gender of Modernism: A Critical Anthology. Ed. Bonnie Kime Scott. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1990. See also p. 63 and p.79 in DeSalvo’s “Shakespeare’s Other Sister” in New Feminist Essays on Virginia Woolf. Ed. Jane Marcus. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1981. 61-81. DeSalvo believes this story is important to the Woolf canon because it sets the

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219 stage for Woolf’s central concerns in her later writing and proposes that Woolf is Shakespeare’s other sister—a reference to Judith Shakespeare in A Room of One’s Own. 16 Shaffer also notes Woolf’s criticism of Bell by melding his character with that of her father, Leslie, in the depiction of Mr. Ramsay in To the Lighthouse. Mr. Ramsay’s “pseudo-philosophical speculations can be seen as a parody of Bell’s two a ttributes of all civilizations—‘A Sense of Values [a quality] and Reason Enthroned [a mental capacity]’” (86). 17 Brian Shaffer discusses Woolf’s diary entry dismissing Clive’s book as superficial and Leonard’s later comment that Bell’s method and assumpti ons were wrong in footnote 38 on p. 82 of his article “Civilization in Bloomsbury: Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Bell’s ‘Theory of Civilization.’” Journal of Modern Literature 19, No. 1 (1994 Summer): 73-87. 18 Arguing in this article that Woolf displays a keen sensitivity to the nexus of gender, class, culture, and power in many of her novels, Bradshaw also discusses The Voyage Out, Jacob’s Room, and The Years with respect to these issues. 19 Five of these were republished in 1975 as The London Scene. Susan Squier in Virginia Woolf and London: The Sexual Politics of the City (Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1985) discusses Woolf’s emphasis in all six essays on the great contrast between the comforts of the upper and middle classes in London and the darker world of the working classes and the poor. CHAPTER THREE: 20 This phrase is chanted by Terence in Chapter XIV of The Voyage Out It is also noted by Julia Briggs in her Introduction to Night and Day as the early title for the novel in its manuscript form. See Woolf, Virginia. Night and Day New York: Penguin, 1992, xxxi. 21 Hereafter, references to The Voyage Out will be abbreviated as TVO. 22 Peach believes that even Woolf’s later fiction shows that her aim is not that of the social realist—to define what is hidden or revealed in discourse—but rather that of an “archaeologist,” in Foucault’s sense, who is concerned with the diffusion of knowledge, its development into concepts in cultural texts, and its relation to social customs, politics, institutions, and private behavior. 23 A reference to King Edward VII’s love of ceremony, displayed in evening courts held next to St. James Park to show the magnificence of life in England. 24 Antigone, of course, defies the State and dies for the sake of a larger moral principle. References to the story of Sophocles’ Antigone, a favorite of Woolf’s, abound in Woolf’s writing, especially in The Years CHAPTER FOUR: 25 This phrase describing the “machinery” of London occurs in Woolf’s short story entitled “Kew Gardens” (publ. 1919). Woolf also states in “The Niece of an Earl” (CE1219-23) that “ [Society is] a nest of glass boxes . .” 26 Marc Cyr observes that this story lacks plot and that the ending subverts the ordinary expectation for plot closure. He also observes that none of the mini-stories in the narrative ever reaches a conclusion, which makes the confident and swift identification of the black mark as a snail, made by an apparently male companion, so pointed a gender difference when juxtaposed to the female narrator’s musing on the same mark (7-9). Cyr quotes Bette Lo ndon’s view that gender coding reveals that the narrator’s companion is male, since “’The masculine intervention of the di scourse of “fact” . closes the story by foreclosing the woman speaker’s inconclusive self-proliferating text’” (8-9). In addition, Cyr discusses London’s belief that the companion’s central and strong concern with war is usually thought of as masculine rather than feminine. For the female narrator, war swirls on the periphery (9). 27 Woolf, Virginia. “Modern Fiction.” Collected Essays Ed. Leonard Woolf. London: Hogarth, 1972. II: 106.

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220 28 The couple merges with the words, and the words merge with objects near them. Just as the story centers upon voices, Bishop asserts that so, too, does Woolf here discover a voice of her own, one that she would employ in her major narratives from this point onward. To Bishop, Woolf found that life could be captured by a net of words that produced their own luminous halo, representing and evoking the process of consciousness rather than a specific, concrete pict ure of life (273-75). 29 Brown observes that Woolf agreed with Roger Fry in rejecting the perfection of objects which are mechanically reproduced (as with the productio n of china by the Wedgwood company) in favor of handcrafted items that retain their unique char acteristics. Fry felt that people must really see things and not just look at them (I would note that Woolf believed men in general should take this stance toward women). For Brown, this is a story which grants things their sovereignty, which looks at things anew and apart from habitual perception in the sense of William James’ ob ject/thing distinction (in the sense of separating the object itself from its habitual perception). John develops a cosmological sense of objects similar to that expressed by Woolf in other tales: he imagines the piece of glass as one of the dead stars or a cinder of the moon. Brown believes that the ambiguity of the story is connected to the “specularity” of the life of things and to the sense of “commodity culture as usual.” John’s desire to possess objects anticipates later “bourgeois consumerism where consumption and co llection seem increasingly conflated” (7-9). 30 It is interesting for contemporary readers to note use of the solely masculine pronoun in these lines, though of course it was conventional for the era to exclude the female pronoun when referring to mixed company. In a brief 1993 Virginia Woolf Miscellany article, Ann Fernald discusses “Class Distinctions,” an unpublished essay found tucked in the manuscript of The Voyage Out, as revealing Woolf’s early inability to reveal her sex in writing. Here Woolf can be se en at a time just before class and gender issues became intertwined. Fernald notes that “it was still possible in 1912 for Woolf to imagine an essay on class distinctions wholly without reference to women” (3). 31 A version of this portion of the chapter has been published in Woolf in the Real World: Selected Papers from the Thirteenth Internati onal Conference on Virginia Woolf. Clemson, SC: Clemson U D P, 2005. 56-63. References here are to the 1919 Duckworth version of Night and Day 32Julia Briggs discusses Mansfield’s criticism of Night and Day in her introduction to the 1992 Penguin edition of the novel (xi). 33Mark Hussey discusses the star-gazer reference in fascinating detail in “Refractions of Desire: The Early Fiction of Virginia and Leonard Woolf.” Modern Fiction Studies 38 (1992): 127-46. 34Although the date of composition of Night and Day is uncertain, Hussey reminds us in this article of Elizabeth Heine’s belief that it was early in 1915, which would have been soon after Virginia’s suicide attempt in 1913. 35 Hussey also notes that DeSalvo reveals a general association for Virginia in both the Melymbrosia manuscript and in The Voyage Out of heterosexual love and death. 36Hussey in this article also q uotes Leonard’s depiction of Virg inia as Aspasia: a woman like “a snow-covered hill, as probably having no heart, but possessed of a pure and clear mind interested only in the pursuit of reality” (130). CHAPTER FIVE: 37 Credit should also be given to Selma S. Meyerowitz for one of the earliest studies of class in the novel in her 1976 unpublished dissertation on Woolf and class. 38 Mark Hussey has edited a series of essays entitled Virginia Woolf and War: Fiction, Reality, and Myth. Other examples are Karen Levenback’s Virginia Woolf and the Great War and Linden Peach’s Virginia Woolf, which includes a chapter on war-related issues and Mrs. Dalloway. 39 In 1937, Julian Bell, Woolf’s nephew, returned from China convinced that the antifascist cause justified violent action; he began work as an ambulance driver and was killed by shrapnel in Spain on July 18. By the 1940s, Woolf and her husband, Leonard, were part of the Gestapo Arrest List for England (Levenback xi). 40 Hereafter, parenthetical references to Mrs. Dalloway will employ the abbreviation MD Obvious abbreviations for other Woolf novels and stories will also be used, such as TG for Three Guineas

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221 41 Interestingly, and ironically, Nicholas Marsh cr iticizes Clarissa for making a selfish choice in marrying Richard, a man who does not demand a great deal from her emotionally—as Peter Walsh, her rejected lover, might have (145). 42 An insightful phrase employed by Patrick McGee to discuss Woolf’s novel, The Waves, in “The Politics of Modernist Form; or, Who Rules the Waves.” MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 38, No. 3 (1992 Fall): 631-50. 43 Mrs. Hilbery also appears in Night and Day where she is a hostess figure and wife of a husband similar to Leslie Stephen, as well as mother to Katharine Hilbery, the novel’s main character. Katharine partially resembles Woolf herself--despite Woolf’s disc laimer that Katharine is based upon her sister, Vanessa. CHAPTER SIX: 44 Miss La Trobe is a character who directs a play in Between the Acts where mirrors are turned upon the audience as a signal of the need for self -knowledge. She is sometimes associated with Woolf herself in this last novel of Woolf’s, published posthumously in 1941. 45 As Mark Hussey points out in Virginia Woolf A to Z, F.R. and Q.D. Leavis also published dismissive reviews of Woolf’s writing in their journal, Scrutiny --most significantly Q.D. Leavis’s ‘Caterpillars of the Commonwealth Unite!’ in 1938, a review of Woolf’s Three Guineas (144). 46 Not published until 1994. 47 These sketches were not collected and published until 2003. 48 Published in 1928 but known by Woolf in draft form as early as 1906. 49 Anna Snaith’s 2002 Modern Fiction Studies article on Flush offers detailed, fascinating class and racial analysis of this often-overlooked novel. 50 This speech provided the idea for The Pargiters an early version of The Years. 51 Naomi Black points out in Virginia Woolf as Feminist that Woolf was a founding member of FIL, an intellectual freedom group in Britain formed in 1936 to provide support for French intellectuals pressured by rightist groups in their country; Woolf became impatient with the gr oup but recognized that achieving the group’s goals was vital to the success of her own feminism (195). 52 O’Dair also discusses the depiction of Septimus as a self-educated man whose education was all learnt from books borrowed from public libraries, notin g that books as repositories of culture are still powerful instruments of status in society (352). 53 The chalk circle is an image used in an early discussion of class among characters in The Voyage Out. 54 Mary M. Childers argues that Woolf scholars should dispel the illusion that Woolf’s thought constitutes an entirely consistent totality. Rather, Wo olf’s writing ranges from pointed and responsible commentary on middle-class women to unwarranted generalizations about gender, to expressions of discomfort that border on distaste for women with ma terially restricted lives th at do not inspire elegant prose. Despite Woolf’s honesty in admitting class disc omfort in the presence of working-class women, she still represses the knowledge that there is a powe r relation between women employers and their women servants, and between the silent wo rking-class women and the speaking middle-class women. Childers also criticizes Woolf for expecting literature to transcend class conflict and for using maids in her writing in exactly the way that she gently mocks her own class for doing. Childers argues that Woolf is torn between political questions and the question of Being, and that in some respect s she embraces a priestly role to maintain her class dominance by advocating forms of consciousness dependent upon adequate leisure time (73-78). 55 Rita Felski has pointed out in Beyond Feminist Aesthetics: Fe minist Literature and Social Change (1989) that this is a partially impossible task. Fe lski’s analysis of “mas culine” and “feminine” texts concludes that “feminine” texts must be read as a complex dialectic of meaning production that involves class and other historical factors, and not just gender.

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241 Daugherty, Beth Rigel. “Morley College, Virginia Woolf a nd Us: How Should One Read Class?” Virginia Woolf and Her Influences: Se lected Papers from the Seventh Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf Ed. Laura Davis, Jeanette McVicker and Jeanne Dubino. New York: Pace UP, 1998. DeMeester, Karen. “Trauma and R ecovery in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway.” MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 44.3 (1998): 649-73. DeSalvo, Louise A. “What Teaching To the Lighthouse Taught Me about Reading Virginia Woolf.” Approaches to Teaching Woolf’s To The Lighthouse Ed. Beth Rigel Daugherty and Mary Beth Pringle. New York: MLA, 2001. Dobie, Kathleen. “This is the Room That Cla ss Built: The Structures of Sex and Class in Jacob’s Room.” In Virginia Woolf and Bloomsbury: A Centenary Celebration Ed. Jane Marcus. Bloomingt on: Indiana UP, 1987: 195-207. Esslin, Martin. Bertolt Brecht. New York: Columbia UP, 1969. Flynn, Deirdre. “Virginia Woolf’s Women and the Fashionable Elite: On Not Fitting In.” In Virginia Woolf and Communities: Selected Papers from the Eighth Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf Ed. Jeanette McVicker and Laura Davis. New York: Pace UP, 1999. 167-73. Freedman, Robert, ed. Marx on Economics. New York: Harvest/Harcourt, 1961. Greenblatt, Stephen J. Learning to Curse: Essays in Early Modern Culture. New York: Routledge, 1990. Hankins, Leslie K. “Redirecti ons: Challenging the Class Ax e and Lesbian Erasure in Potter’s Orlando.” Re: Reading, Re: Writing, Re: Teaching Virginia Woolf Ed. Eileen Barrett and Patricia Cramer. 1995: 168-84.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mary C. Madden teaches at the University of South Florida, Tampa. She has been published in Woolf in the Real World (2005) and in Virginia Woolf Miscellany, Style, Sunscripts, Kalliope, and the Florida English Journal among other publications. She is currently researching class issues in the work of Virginia Woolf. She is also a published and performance poet.


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