'Shakespeare's Sister Will Be Born Some Day' from 'A Room of One's Own' by V.Woolf (1929)
This passage is part of a series of lectures V.Woolf gave at a women's college to a female audience.
They were collected into 'A Room Of One's Own' , an essay.
V.Woolf speaks on the subject of women and literature using, as an example, a hypothetical fictional character, Shakespeare' s sister, i.e., a talented woman, as gifted as her brother, who would have never had the possibility to write a great work of art because of the economic and social conditions women were subjected to, in Shakespeare's time.
As she clearly states in the first lines, her intention is to encourage women to 'go about the business of life'.
This passage has an argumentative structure, Woolf lists pros and cons and then reaches a conclusion.
At first, she apparently accuses women of being ignorant, she says they have never made a discovery of some importance, they have never ruled an empire or led an army, they have never written anything like Shakespeare's works.
From line 8, her reasoning changes, and she admits that women have been busy in giving life and breeding, washing and teaching all the human beings in existence at that time.
From line 18, she ironically remarks that women have lately started to enjoy ' immense privileges' as 'two colleges for women', the possibility to possess their own property after marriage and the right to vote.
The irony lies in the fact that only very recently women have conquered some of the elementary rights which have always been granted to men.
In lines 40-41, the writer states that now the