Saturday, February 2, 2008

Virginia Woolf: Exploring Lesbianism

The typical tone of the early 20th century literature is apparent in the virtual disparity between women and popular literature. An authentic woman's voice was a faint if at all audible contingent within what preceded modernist authors. Even rarer were the voices of women who spoke against the normative restraints of their culture. Virginia Woolf offered significant contribution to this emerging literary movement, both in the areas of women writing about women and, more specifically unique to her modernist experimentalism, the exploration of female-to-female intimacy. Woolf was a trailblazer in her weaving of these themes into her work. She creates characters who represent the struggle that she and other women experienced in early 20th century Britain. Her young protagonist, Clarissa, in Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf explores the social constraints that limit agency and suppress these yearnings. To the Lighthouse and her unfinished and posthumously published novel, Between the Acts, lesbian desire is squelched by popular convention and its oppressive alienation robs her heroines of the chance to possess the objects of their desires and withholds from them a social environment wherein it is plausible to assume a lesbian or woman-centered identity.

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