Study Guide

Kew Gardens Women and Femininity

By Virginia Woolf

Women and Femininity

"Kew Gardens" presents particular notions about the proper roles of women in society at this point in history. Though the gardens might seem to be a place where these societal roles could break down, women remain constrained in positions as mothers, lovers, and objects of desire. To this extent, the gardens are not really a wild, free realm distanced from the restrictions of society, but a place where gender roles and codes of conduct still hold fast. The story does give us access to their interior worlds, though, in which they are free to contemplate, dream, and remember without the constraints of social expectation. Woolf might be renowned for some of the more progressive feminist themes that appear in her later works, but they are not very present in this story. Sorry, ladies. 

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. What are the common characteristics of the story's female characters?
  2. How do the story's male characters think about and treat women?                 
  3. Does the story contain a critique of female gender roles?                    

Chew on This

Women occupy a unique position in the memories and thoughts of the story's male characters.

The story represents women in traditional gender roles, as mothers, lovers, and objects of desire. 

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