A Room of One’s Own

by: Virginia Woolf

Important Quotations Explained

5
Life for both sexes—and I look at them, shouldering their way along the pavement—is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion that we are, it calls for confidence in oneself.

Woolf presents this claim in Chapter Two. She asserts this point amidst a discussion about the unequal treatment of women by men. In this discussion, she cites men as the reason for this—she believes that men have systematically subordinated women in order to reinforce their own confidence as the more capable sex—but she does not blame men for this. Rather, she sympathizes with men in their quest for confidence, and she speaks of the importance of confidence in creating art. The lack of confidence amongst women has led to the generally inferior quality of their art. To Woolf, the anger in women about their plight as second-class citizens is reflected in their writing. And yet, they persist. She relates the fact that women continue to write even though they are actually lacking in confidence to the way that people continue living their lives even when wracked by doubt about their relevance in society. In this way, she depicts women as valiant.