The constraints of the internal quest
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The constraints of the internal quest
The masculine dismissal of a women\'s quest
A quest is a tale that celebrates how one can cleverly and resolutely rise
superior to all opposition. Yet as fresh prospectives on history now suggest, in this
search for freedom and order, the masculine craving for adventure, demanded
restrictions upon women, forcing her into deeper confinement, even within her
limited province. Thus the rights of a man are separated by the expectancies of a
woman. Each subsequent story deals with a search for truth that is hidden by the
facades of social convention. This search is often hampered by the conventions
that are part of the outside and inside domain. For a female\'s quest is best
displayed in the sphere of domestic life, which drastically diminishes her diversity of
action, compared to men who are expected to live public, successful lives.
The Homeric journey for males is a physical adventure in the external world.
Odysseus is a man who pursues his objective against all opposition. He absolutely
refuses to give in, whatever happens to him en route for home. Constantly, he
reinforces the principle that will guide him throughout his struggles:
"For if some god batters me far
out on the wine-blue water, I will endure it,
keeping a stubborn spirit inside of me,
for already I have suffered much and
done much hard work..." (The Odyssey 9. 12-16)
So the hero of The Odyssey displays the manifold ability to overcome beings of all
kinds, one after the other. Always he comes to fore as the master, and by his
extraordinary greatness, leaves all others behind him. From Odysseus, the readers
can learn to conquer life. But there is an issue of uncertainty within the Greek-value
system, for it places far greater emphasis upon successful performances in the
external world than of inner consciousness of right and wrong. The outside domain
thrusts the hero into countless situations that are difficult to endure. But Odysseus
"rich in ingenious ideas" and even richer "in devices to gain end" (9. 53-55) realizes
that he is no longer free, but must be eminently tactful when necessary. The male
journey is a struggle wholly different than the internal world, and the Odysseus learns
to respond flexibly if he is going to survive.
In contrast to the male quest of combat, is a women\'s voyage of domesticity.
Virginia Woolf discusses a world where women have been denied external
opportunities and consequently become internal. For if it was indeed possible for all
women to obtain A Room of One\'s Own, they too, would have the opportunity for
cultured, artistic, talent.
"For women have sat indoors,
all these million of years...for this creative
power differs greatly from the creative power
of men. And one must conclude that it would be
a thousand pities if it were hindered or wasted....
for there is nothing to take its place (87).
All of her life, Woolf struggles with this sadness that threatens to overwhelm and
annihilate her. In many ways, her thoughts are an attempt to challenge the
unearned privileges of men who are permitted to explore the outside world.
Moreover, in contrast to the world of nature, is another symbol of domesticity in the
cloistered and confined home for Louise Mallard. In her own room, she looks
through the open window. Mrs. Mallard indeed has what Woolf stresses is so
important, yet it is only a temporary and eventually insufficient refuge. She leaves it
as she must, to rejoin her sister downstairs, and in unlocking the door, she
paradoxically confines herself to the prison of her own home. Now death is her only
salvation. Instead of "soaring free like the birds" (The Story of An Hour 31), Louise
escapes the only way open to her. But this women, similar to so many of her time, is
an atypical heroine, and her adventures, are contrary to the typical male heroic.
Consequently, this era of repressive spirit provided material for female
authors to discuss the anger that has been sealed off by men. By the end of the 18th
century, the novel came to be seen as a powerful educational tool for young women.
Woven into the narrative of Virginia Woolf\'s internal experiences are the threads of
her comments on a women\'s external capabilities. "I thought about how unpleasant
it is to be locked out, and I thought about how worse it is worse perhaps to be locked
in (A Room of One\'s Own 25). In this crucial passage, Woolf emphasizes her
prescription for change: she
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A Room of Ones Own, Monodrama, Virginia Woolf, Odyssey, Northanger Abbey, Odysseus, Jane Austen, Quest, Masculinity
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