Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Capture the Castle vs. A Room of One's Own

As reading I Capture the Castle I have noticed that Dodie Smith does not fall under the stereotype of women writers that Virginia Woolf has explained. In A Room of One's Own Woolf describes Mary Carmichael's book, Life's Adventure, as lacking care and not being herself in her writing. Smith is far from this because her novel includes a lot of emotion and feeling from the narrator Cassandra. This novel is all of her journals entries so there is obviously a great amount of her true feelings in this novel. This is not an autobiography, but I feel that Smith is being quite true to herself and not trying to be someone else to please the male writers of the time.

This novel was written in 1948, so women writers had made some strides by then, since Woolf's book was published in 1929. This just comes to show the inprovment made for women writers that that in just a short 20 years women were able to write more of what interested them rather than what they thought society would accept. Smith was able to push through the male dominated writing world and compose a piece of writing to be proud of.


  1. I agree with you that Smith is not trying to be someone else to please the male writers of the time. I Capture the Castle does have a female main character versus a female character that is only in the story because of her relation with a man. I think that Woolf would be glad to know that Smith, a female writer, was able to write about a female main character and be published.

  2. Let's be careful not to mischaracterize Woolf's literary history. She's more than aware of the tradition of published women writers starting in the eighteenth century, and of course many--if not most--of those writers wrote about female characters (Jane Eyre, for instance). Instead of being seduced by a story about a benighted past yielding to the glorious present, let's think about the specific issues that Woolf raises. How does gender manifest itself in I Capture the Castle? Who has money, and why? For Smith, is gender something you are or something you do? How is Miss Blossom gendered, given that she's an inanimate object? How does Cassandra's position as a young woman affect her writing, materially and psychologically?

  3. I think Smith believes that common misperception of gender is something you are. This is evident when the girls talk about marriage as a way to ensure a living. The men in the story have the money, so the women must pick a husband in order to be provided for. Cassandra's youth contributes to this misconception. From what I have read so far I can't come to any conclusions yet, but I have a feeling that Smith will develop Cassandra so that she rises above her gender roles. I think Smith will ultimately believe that gender is something you do.

  4. Even though there seems to be no bitterness and anger in Smith's writing, you can tell that gender is a huge part of this novel. The men have the money and the women are trying to marry the men for money. Cassandra's own father isn't making the money while Topaz is, yet they are in poverty. Maybe this would be different if Cassandra's father was actually making money? I think this is the implication here. Stephen also has the opportunity to make more money than anyone else in the family even though he is a servant. But he is male and has an advantage over the women in the house. Smith seems to be affected by gender roles and stereotypes.


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