XXIII Открытая конференция студентов-филологов в СПбГУ

The pragmatic value of allusions in «A Room of One’s Own»

Дина Борисовна Щекина
магистрант 2 курса
Санкт-Петербургский государственный университет

Ключевые слова, аннотация

The aim of this study is to investigate the implicit meaning and pragmatic potential of allusions used by Virginia Woolf in her essay «A Room of One’s Own». The paper shows how allusion serves as a tool of feminist criticism and allows the author to avoid political censorship.


This study concerns the function of allusions in Virginia Woolf's essay «A Room of One's Own» and identifies their pragmatic value from the point of view of feminist critical discourse analysis. It demonstrates the way the author's linguistic pratices are linked to the competing gender ideologies and the way gender identities and power relations are constituted in her discourse.
A brief overview of the existing definitions of allusion demonstrates that this term has not been clearly defined yet: the definitions range from extremely loose to quite narrow. We define allusion as an utterance that contains a hint at a different text or at something from real life, carrying more information than the literal meaning of the words.
As shown by our analysis, the main function of the allusions in «A Room of One’s Own» is to expand the semantic content of the text. Allusions make it possible for Virginia Woolf to present subversive ideas to her audiences and avoid political censorship.
The allusions in «A Room of One’s Own» contain references to fiction and non-fiction texts, the Bible, real people and events. In particular, we analyse the way Virginia Woolf alludes to a 16th-cent. Scottish folk song «The Fower Maries», two colleges in the Oxford University, the existing inheritance laws, The Lord’s Prayer, John Milton’s «Paradise Lost», and a novel called «Life's Adventure».
Allusions serve as a tool of feminist criticism, allowing Woolf to construct a female gender identity which is radically different from the patriarchal stereotype of women being inferior to men. In this context, the pragmatic function of allusion largely depends on its potential for being used as code language to indirectly convey messages which may otherwise have been censored.