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Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael or any other name you please—it
is not a matter of importance.
This line comes from Chapter One, and
its enigmatic and elusive tone regarding the true identity of the
narrator is maintained throughout the text. Woolf and the narrator
both struggle with the same issues, but they are two distinct entities.
The narrator is a fictionalized character—an invention of Virginia
Woolf—and she remains vague about her true identity. In this quotation
she even instructs the reader to refer to her by different names.
This lack of one “true” identity for the narrator gives A
Room of One’s Own a sense of being universal: the ideas
apply to all women, not just one. The lack of one identity also
makes the narrator more convincing. By taking on different identities,
the narrator transcends one single voice, and consequently
she makes herself a force to be reckoned with. Her blasé
attitude about something that is considered fixed and important
by most people—identity—makes her all the more intriguing.
Ace your assignments with our guide to A Room of One's Own!