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Virginia Woolf's The Legacy

In Virginia Woolf's short story "The Legacy," Gilbert Clandon is a widower whose wife left him the collection of diaries she has kept since their marriage. Upon reading them, the wife he thinks is completely devoted to him reveals she has been in love with another man, known only as "B.M" in the diaries (Woolf 5). By the end of the diaries, Gilbert realizes his wife did not die by accident but instead killed herself to be with her lover who committed suicide when she rejected his desire to be with her. This analysis will show Angela commits suicide because she is so utterly unhappy in her own marriage but cannot end it.

Angela and her husband are members of upper-class society. Angela has a secretary and Gilbert a post for the government. The Clandon's life completely revolves around Gilbert's career and his social obligations because of it. Childless and always busy with work, he discovers in his diaries that Angela had become increasingly unfulfilled in their marriage. As she writes in the diary, "How I wish that Gilbert had a son" (Woolf 4)! She is proud of her husband and supports him, but Angela has nothing meaningful in her own life to provide her with fulfillment or meaningful challenge.

Ann Lavine's (74) review of "The Legacy" argues that the character of Gilbert Clandon is drawn to show one of Woolf's primary beliefs about fiction, "that it should not present reality as absolute and neatly packageable, but rather as subjectively experienced by individuals." We see this technique as Gilbert slowly comes to realize more and more about his wife and how little he really understood her or took the time to see her perspective while she lived. As to the childless marriage Angela found empty, he thinks: "Oddly enough he had never much regretted that himself. Life had been so full, so rich as it was" (Woolf 4). With a career to consume him, a busy social life,


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Virginia Woolf's The Legacy. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 14:08, February 21, 2017, from