Abstract for 2008 Honors Colloquium

Charlotte Savino


"Maternal Influences in Virginia Woolf's Fiction"

Ideas of maternity inform much of Woolf's text in various permutations. In To the Lighthouse, The Voyage Out, Mrs. Dalloway, and Night and Day, Woolf's characters struggle against the "Angel in the House" figure of motherhood. Simultaneously in To the Lighthouse, The Waves, and Jacob's Room, mother figures work as preserving forces who stave of death and chaos. Through her literary satire, Orlando, Woolf also uses past writers as a literary lineage that "births" artists of the next generation. Struggling with her own ideas about literary and physical motherhood, Woolf explores the ways maternal figures shape the lives of their real and metaphorical children.