Feminism and Insanity in Virginia Woolf's Work Essay examples

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Feminism and Insanity in Virginia Woolf's Work

The critical discussion revolving around the presence of mystical elements in Virginia Woolf's work is sparse. Yet it seems to revolve rather neatly around two poles. The first being a preoccupation with the notion of madness and insanity in Woolf's work and the second focuses on the political ramifications of mystical encounters. More specifically, Woolf's mysticism reflects on her feminist ideals and notions.

Even though she ultimately associates Woolf's brand of mysticism with the 19th century Theosophists, she continually refers to the specific encounters in Woolf's work as "natural mysticism" (Kane 329). I contend that this brand of "natural mysticism" can be separated from
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She chooses to focus on the notion of maternity both as a mystical concept ("the cosmological woman-as-sun") and as a feminist revision of literature. She also seems caught up in the concerns over Woolf's sexuality and how that related to her as a maternal figure. "Woolf's 'frigidity' stigmatized her; made her appear to be too fragile for maternity" (Moore 21). Her use of the term "frigidity" here she goes on to explain as "Woolf's sexual preference for women...the problem which is still called 'frigidity'" (21). Moore certainly sees two distinct aspects in Woolf's mystical encounters that are both linked through this notion of maternity. She sees her as dealing in "interpretations of the relationship between sexual repression and political repression" (3).

Moving forward, we find Makiko Minow-Pinkney's Freudian reading of Woolf's mysticism. Much like Moore, he reads the mystical elements as outgrowths of sexual repression however he chooses to focus on the Oedipal nature of Woolf's conflict. "The bond of faith ensured by the imaginary father is unstable, and such a weakened paternal function...makes Woolf a mystic" (Minow-Pinkney 95). He quotes The Waves "How then does light return to the world after the eclipse of the sun? Miraculously, frailly" as the "paternal emergence" (95). However, linking back to Moore's work, if we see the sun in The Waves
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