-Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own’.
‘A woman must have a money and a mind of her own if she has to write’. I stand by this sentence slightly amended according to my reasoning. Money, for realising her dreams of serious writing into a reality, financial support actually makes them think independent, plan different. Mind of her own, for her own space which otherwise is a game, fate plans. Any discussion about the sex becomes controversial and one can’t hope to tell the truth, but I thought I will risk to show why I came to hold whatever opinion I do hold, deprived of one of the essentials mentioned earlier necessary for writing.
Mind could be the outcome of an excitable heart. To come out and breathe, the way a woman need to, to see the beauty of the world along with its agonies, you need a mind. One may not possess that to tell the reading community the truth devoid of facts. Mind, to think and pen what others unthink, to preserve every drop of truth without running through the fingers. Mind, to ponder over the frivolous thoughts a woman gets staring at an avalanche of books sliding down to the desk in front of them. Mind to think their gender has qualities apart, also to question the depiction of woman characters in books men write.
The inner conflicts that go through in the mind of a woman character, her self explanations for her deeds, her choices over one another pose a real threat for a man to portray. It’s easy to characterise her as an epitome of selfless love, a whore, a typical mother, or a traitor. Going beyond, trying her true nature, her justifications unparalleled and unquestioned with her mood swings are areas where men usually finds difficulty. The portrayal of a woman protagonist or an antagonist is more true, acceptable and justifiable when it’s penned by a woman. Nora remains misunderstood until the play ends and her final action of shutting the door in Henrik Ibsen’s ‘A Doll’s House’ could have been a slap direct so that Nora gets self satisfaction as the readers do. Throughout the play, even once she couldn’t convince her husband of her true intentions.
So is the case in Oscar Wilde’s portrayal of Cecily Cardew in The Importance of Being earnest,as a silly, immatured girl and Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax as a matured girl, sacrifice when the readers think of a possible counter movement, in spite of the fact that it’s a comedy. Meena Biswas in Arun Joshi’s ‘A strange Case of Billy Biswas’ is a virtual defeat of self respect a married woman possess. Bilasia is wonderfully portrayed in the beginning, towards the end the character becomes weak. A few case studies are here to prove my point.
The effect of tradition and the lack of tradition on the mind of a writer defines the stream which the writer belongs to. Unfortunately, when a woman writer goes beyond her defined realms to make a character, in effect an actual representation, she’s declined. In her effort to redefine her strong feelings, concept of love, the changes she expect within the family and beyond, she is labelled as a rebel. Yes, this happens right now! You take the name of Madhavikkutty(Kamala Das) among the literate men folk, they will start at you with a guffaw! Literature and further learning could never change the mindset of ‘learned’ men. Such men write novels about women. What an epiphany!
This is the space I was speaking about. Why are some areas exclusively reserved for men as it’s their safe zones? Writing is all about a free mind and a free hand. When it’s tied around by the norms the writer is expected to perform, writing loses its virginity.
‘How we are fallen! fallen by mistaken rules, And Education is more than Nature’s fools;debarred from all improvements of the mind,And to be dull, expected and designed.And if someone would soar above the rest, With warmer fancy, and ambition pressed, So strong the opposing faction still appears, The hopes to thrive can ne’er outweigh the fears.’ Here’s Lady Winchilsea bursting out in indignation against the position of women in 1680 s. Tell me, what has changed substantially?
‘Who blames me? Many, no doubt, and I shall be called discontented. I could not help it: the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes…’ A poet who never wrote a word and was buried at the cross-roads still lives in you and in me and in many other women! When Woolf concludes her curious queries and conceptions on Women and Fiction giving her readers food for thought, it’s time for me to conclude my essay which is the outcome of a week’s reading,hope my selected readers would love it.