Angel in the House imagery in “Professions for Women”

In “Professions for Women,” Virginia Woolf carries the image of the Angel in the House from the beginning to the end. The Angel is the phantom that represses her and attempts to force out imagination and creativity. Woolf describes the Angel as being pure, selfless, and sympathetic, but is ultimately forced to kill her in order to preserve her writing career. This passage seems to imply that being like the Angel and being a professional writer are mutually exclusive. I understand that Woolf might have meant that in order to progress forward, we must cast off the shackles of the past but ‘killing’ is a very drastic word. This behavior, that is generally frowned upon by society, is rewarded with rooms of [one’s] own “in the house hitherto exclusively owned by men,” but in order to do so, does a woman have to sacrifice the feminine part of her? Is Woolf saying that in order to succeed as a professional woman, traits such as selflessness and sympathy must be completely surprised in order to truly be free? Are women who care for families and more inclined to be maternal forced to live under the tyrannical shadow of their Angel, never to be free? Could Woolf be implying that the male-dominated society has forced women into roles where they must be entirely professional or entirely ‘angelic’?

8 thoughts on “Angel in the House imagery in “Professions for Women”

  1. I don’t believe she was saying that having the traits of the angel means a woman will never go anywhere, and it certainly doesn’t mean that being the kind of feminine that the angel is must be exclusive from a career as a writer. I think that Woolf was trying to explain that by forcing these habits and traits created by a patriarchal society there will be no progress. In order to truly succeed as a writer one must be willing to express their opinions freely and without restraint. By following what the angel insists and disregarding any clashing emotion or thoughts, it takes away from the literature as it no longer holds the value of that writer’s thoughts, but that of another.

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