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Virginia Woolf and Heritage$
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Jane deGay, Tom Breckin, and Anne Reus

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781942954422

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781942954422.001.0001

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Through the Arch: The Country House and the Tradition of English Tyranny in Woolf’s Between the Acts

Through the Arch: The Country House and the Tradition of English Tyranny in Woolf’s Between the Acts

Chapter:
(p.67) Through the Arch: The Country House and the Tradition of English Tyranny in Woolf’s Between the Acts
Source:
Virginia Woolf and Heritage
Author(s):

Marlowe A. Miller

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781942954422.003.0009

Virginia Woolf’s writing in the 1930’s reveals her conviction that the training for male superiority and dominance begins in the family home, is "fostered and cherished by education and tradition," and leads inevitably to the oppression of weaker nations by stronger nations. Woolf came to see herself in the battle against fascism as one who reveals dictatorship at home; she writes, “…I should evolve some plan for fighting English tyranny." Even Woolf’s working title for her final novel reflects her abiding interest in the home and the role it plays in the construction of “English tyranny.” As she composed her final novel Between the Acts, Woolf used the working title Pointz Hall, emphasizing the central role of the Oliver country home within the text. Spaces and objects in Pointz Hall foster despotism, from Lucy Swithin’s memories of rebuke conjured by a room, to portraits reifying patriarchal traditions. Even the daily copy of The Times contributes to this “education and tradition” within the house: Bart Oliver bullies his grandson with his rolled up newspaper; and in the same publication, Isa reads the story of a young woman raped by soldiers, a scene that Isa then “sees” projected “on the mahogany door panels” of the library. English heritage is embodied in stately homes; Woolf reveals that this heritage is one of tyranny, alive and well in Pointz Hall.

Keywords:   Country house, Tyranny, Unhomely, Homi Bhabha, Architectural arch, Between the Acts

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