Sunday, November 14, 2010

Three Guineas

It is easy to draw connections between this book and A Room of One's Own. They both focus on education for women. They also both focus on economics and the importance of money if a person is to have any power. But this novel brings in the added angle of how women having a say could prevent war. Woolf puts all these arguments together so compellingly. I love the structure of the book and how she is deciding how to donate her money, since indirect actions like this, signing a check or writing letters were the only ways a woman could exert her will. While she does go on to repeat the argument I would like to do a closer reading of the first time she puts it all together on pages 16-20.

First she makes the connection between war and the economy and a woman's role (or lack there of) in both. "At any rate that method is not open to us; both the Army and Navy are closed to our sex. We are not allowed to fight. Not again are we allowed to be members of the Stock Exchange. Thus we can use neither the pressure of force or the pressure of money" (16) The issue seems to be influence, the ability to cause events to happen the way one wants them to, or to change things. Here she directs her arguement toward men as a whole. Woolf also points out that women don't have the ability to strike effectively, since a halt in thier labor would do little to the professions. They can not say they simply won't manufacture supplies for the war, because the effect would be negligible.

It is the previously help opinion that the way a woman can exert her force the most powerfully is indirect, through a man. The passage she chooses by Sir Ernest Wild is a riot. The woman is actually immensley powerful, she expresses this power by getting her husband to do whatever she wants, while at the same time, not allowing him to know that she is doing it. She restates the idea from a Room of One's Own that the most important thing a woman has gained is the ability to participate in a profession. When she is making her own money, rather than relying on the genorosity of her father or husband, she has an opportunity to be truly independant. She doesn't feel the need to charm men to earn a living, so she is free to express her opinions. It is only once she has the right to communicate her feelings that she may have any chance to prevent wars.

There are a few other parts of the book so far that I have found really interesting. I love the way she discusses the hypocrisy have how England is supposed to be about freedom and about liberty. She then questions whether a woman in England had this same experience. I also enjoy the parelels drawn between patriarchal constructions and facisim. I also found the discussion about the different purposes of clothing for men and women very funny. A woman's clothes hide her nakedness, draw attention to her beauty, and might even help her get a husband. But a man uses his clothes to advertise his achievements. He has buttons, ribbons, badges, each with a seperate meaning. "A woman who advertized her motherhood by a tuft of horse hair on her shoulder, would scarcely, you will agree, be a venerable object." (26) Tee-hee

1 comment:

  1. So happy I found this blog post! It's very useful to see another person's side of things.