Virginia Woolf was an exceptional figure in English literature whose work has often been embraced by feminist literary critics because of WoolfÆs special understanding of the ways in which women approach and experience marriage. The thesis to be addressed in the report is that through characters such as Clarissa Dalloway and Lily Briscoe, Woolf depicts marriages in which women are required to subjugate the self to the masculine other, thus denying their autonomy and their wholeness and necessitating a choice between the self and the other (Whiteley, 1987).
It will be argued that Woolf, in her novels, sought to capture a reality more intimate and urgent than conventional modes of presentation have been able to render (Whiteley, 1987). Woolf attacked the conventions of social realism that had been in the mainstream of the English novel for the preceding 200 years. By lending a feminine and distinctly female authorial voice to stories of human relationships, Woolf reconstituted realism and presented a new understanding and interpretation of the experience of women within marriage and the larger social system (Whiteley, 1987).
Woolf was a member of the Bloomsbury Group, and was the daughter of a well-known couple. According to one biographer:
Adeline Virginia Stephen was born on 25 January 1882 in London. Her father, Leslie Stephen (1832-1904), was a man of letters (and first editor of the Dictionary of National Biography) who came from a family distinguished for public service (part of the 'intellectual aristocracy' of Victorian England). Her mother, Julia (1846-95), from whom Virginia inherited her looks, was the daughter and niece of the six beautiful Pattle sisters (Julia Margaret Cameron was the seventh: not beautiful but the only one remembered today). Both parents had been married before: her father to the daughter of the novelist, Thackeray, by whom he had a daughter Laura (1870-1945) who was intellectually...