Study Guide

A Room of One's Own Power

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James Brown said it best: "It's a Man's Man's Man's World. Why? Because men have all the power. Or do they? You could argue that A Room of One's Own is all about power: men's power over women, women's power over men and over themselves, and even artistic power. Woolf carefully traces the effects of power on the minds of both men and women, showing that the power that men have has to come from believing that women are inferior. For Woolf, too, the power of authority is the power to interrupt. In order for women to write well and express their thoughts completely, of course, they can't be interrupted. They have to take back the power.

Questions About Power

  1. Do women have any power at all in the patriarchy that Woolf describes? If so, is it a power worth having?
  2. Does the ability to write (and be published) give the writer power? Power over what? or whom?
  3. Why does Woolf make the man who prevents Mary from entering the library "kindly"? Wouldn't it make more sense to have him be mean?
  4. What would happen if women stopped being magical magnifying glasses for men?

Chew on This

If you can write about someone else, you have power over that person.

Mary Beton's inheritance makes it so she doesn't have to be a magical "looking glass" that enlarges men.

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