Woolf is asked to address a couple of audiences on the topic of Women and Fiction. Okay, not a dramatic call—but definitely a literal one.
Mary visits seductive but forbidding Oxbridge and endures a horrifying meal at Fernham before descending into the even more fearsome depths of the British Museum library, where she finds shelves of books about women's inferiority written by angry men.
Amazingly, she survives.
Mary has a vision of the male and female parts of the mind working together. This allows her to get beyond all the finger-pointing and name-calling going on between men and women. But even though she has had this vision, she has yet to find a female writer who is really writing as well as she could be.
We admit it: this is where A Room of One's Own as a quest narrative kind of breaks down. The final ordeal isn't something that Mary has to go through; it's something that the women writers of the future need to do. They need to fight for their money and private room so they can write beautifully about what's going on in their minds. (And we suspect that Woolf might have had an ordeal of her own.)
At the end of the book, the goal—for society to produce a female writer unencumbered by her sex and able to allow her genius to blossom—is at least a hundred years away. Bummer.