Virginia Woolf

A Room of Once Own Chapter 3

Objectives: In this unit, students engage with Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, building skills for close reading and analysis of nonfiction. Throughout the unit, students learn to approach informational texts by analyzing an author’s use of evidence and rhetoric to support her point of view. Students read an excerpt from A Room of One’s Own that considers what would have happened to a woman of Shakespeare’s genius during Shakespeare’s time. Woolf poses a hypothetical sister of Shakespeare and uses both specific and more general forms of argument to make the case that the absence of great female writers from this period is an effect of the social pressures on them and the opportunities denied them. In this unit, students also focus on strengthening their writing as well as building their skills for civil and productive conversation. In both forums, students learn to articulate analysis backed by ample references to the text, while also learning to engage in a critical, democratic dialogue with peers. Students examine previous texts in this module in light of Woolf’s essay, developing the critical skill of analysis across texts in order to form a more coherent understanding of the voice of the disenfranchised, in particular, as represented in literature.

In the Mid‐Unit Assessment, students choose two or more central ideas in A Room of One’s Own and analyze their development and interaction over the course of the text.
In the End‐of‐Unit Assessment, students craft a multi‐paragraph response analyzing the relationship between Woolf’s text and the character of Ophelia. Students return to Hamlet to look again at Ophelia, this time in conversation with the portion of Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own essay that they have studied as well as a rhetorical analysis of the lecture.

Essential Questions:

  1. Why is the significance accorded to women by male fiction a kind of sham or dodge with regard to real-life women? How can women address this problem in recovering women’s history?
  2. Woolf imagines the career of of Shakespeare’s fictional sister, Judith. What happens to Judith, and why? How does Judith’s fate show that “genius” is not above history and material circumstance?
  3. Why, according to Woolf, is Shakespeare so little known as a person? What was granted to him that would not have been granted to a sister with equal potential?

Literacy Skills & Habits
 Read closely for textual details
 Annotate texts to support comprehension and analysis
 Engage in productive evidence‐based conversations about text, specifically around central ideas
 Determine meaning of unknown vocabulary
 Provide an objective summary of the text
 Paraphrase and quote relevant evidence from a text
 Write original evidence‐based claims
 Generate and respond to questions in scholarly discourse


R.9 Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
RL.11‐12.3 Analyze the impact of the author’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
RI.11‐12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
RI.11‐12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.
RI.11‐12.3 Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.
RI.11‐12.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text.

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas,
concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
a. Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information so that
each new element builds on that which precedes it to create a unified whole;
include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and
multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.

Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one‐on one, in groups, and teacher‐led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and

Ongoing Assessment
Standards Assessed
CCRA.R.9, RL.11‐12.3, RI.11‐12.2, RI.11‐12.3, RI.11‐12.6, W.11‐12.2.a‐f,
W.11‐12.9.a, b, L.11‐12.1, L.11‐12.2
Description of Varies by lesson but may include: answer text‐dependent questions, write Assessment informally in response to text‐based prompts, revise and strengthen writing through peer‐ and self‐review, participate in group discussion, and present information in an organized and logical manner.

Day 1 ( Text A Room of One’s Own, Chapter 3,

Objectives: Students will be able to approach informational texts by analyzing Woolf’s arguments and her use of evidence and rhetoric to support her point of view by reading and analyzing an excerpt from chapter 3 (from “Be that as it may, I could not help thinking” to “his extraordinarily gifted sister, let us suppose, remained at home”, in which Woolf introduces the character of Shakespeare’s sister and imagines what youth would have been like
for William Shakespeare and his sister).

RI.11-12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.

Aim: How does  Woolf introduce a central idea in the first paragraph of the excerpt?


• Copies of A Room of One’s Own for each student
• Student copies of the 11.1 Common Core Learning Standards Tool
• Copies of the Central Ideas Tracking Tool for each student
• Student copies of the Short Response Rubric and Checklist

Do Now:  What’s so significant for a woman of Victorian England to have a room of her own? Why is it important to have a room of your own?

About Virginia Woolf

About  A Room of One’s Own

Mini Lesson with Guided PRACTICE

Chapter 3 of the lecture

  •  the title refers to the need for women writers to have at least a room of their own and the privacy, time, and material support necessary to produce literature.This section contains a famous thought experiment about what may have happened if Shakespeare had a sister.
  • read aloud chapter 3 from “Be that as it may, I could not help thinking” to “Anonymity runs in their blood” and discuss the following questions:
  • How does Virginia Woolf develop a central idea in this  passage?
  • reread the passage from “Be that as it may, I could not help thinking” to “—and the elements of grammar and logic,” and then answer the following questions in
    your groups before sharing out with the class.

Independent Practice

In small groups, discuss the following questions-

  1. Paraphrase Woolf’s claim beginning with “It would have been impossible”. What words does Woolf use in this sentence to emphasize her claim?
  2. Reread the sentence that begins with “Let me imagine, since the facts are so hard to come by” . What will Woolf imagine in this essay? Why does she need to imagine it?
  3. What “escapade” sent Shakespeare “to seek his fortune in London”?
  4. What is your understanding of the meaning of the word escapade from this sentence?
  5. What experiences did Shakespeare have in London?
  6. What word choices does Woolf make to describe Shakespeare’s lifestyle? What overall impression does this convey?
  7. How does Woolf immediately contrast the experience of Shakespeare’s sister with the experience of Shakespeare?
  8. What central idea does Woolf introduce through the contrast between Shakespeare and his sister?

Quick Write:

Write an objective summary  of A Room of One’s Own and determine a central idea introduced in the text. Cite text evidence from the text to support the central idea you identify.


  • Use the notes you made in class to list and classify the opportunities that Shakespeare had at home and in London according to the following categories: Work, Family, Education, Relationships, and Entertainment. You may also use any other classifications you deem appropriate, explaining why you categorized in that way.
  • Do a quick-and-dirty research about  women during Victorian period.


Day 2 (Text: A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf (from “She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world” to “if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had had Shakespeare’s genius”).

Objectives: Students will be able to analyze the purpose of Woolf’s contrasting Judith Shakespeare’s opportunities with her brother’s, as she was forced to stay at home while he went to London.

RI.11-12.2 Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.

W.11-12.9.b Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.

Aim: How does Woolf’s comparison of Shakespeare to his sister further develop and build upon a central idea in the text?

Do Now: Share with a partner the most striking example about women from a 21st century reader’s perspective.

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice:

  • agog (adj.) – haighly excited by eagerness, curiosity, anticipation
    • guffawed (v.) – laughed loudly and boisterously

Activity 1: Share in pairs your homework response: one claim Woolf makes and  supporting evidence. Share in class. Teacher provides feedback.

Activity 2: Classify the opportunities that Shakespeare had at home and in London according to the following categories: Work, Family, Education, Relationships, and Entertainment.

Activity 3: What’s Woolf’s purpose of giving the lecture? How does she make it across to her audience?

Student Independent Practice: 

In small groups, discuss the following questions. Continue to annotate the text as you read and discuss.

  1. What was the attitude Judith’s parents took toward her education, and how does it contrast to their attitude toward Shakespeare’s education?
  2. Why did Judith’s parents act this way toward her?
  3. What was Judith “careful to hide” or “set fire to” ? Why did Judith do this?
  4. Read from “Soon, however, before she was out of her teens” to “she was severely beaten by her father”  and determine what the word betrothed means. Which words or phrases from the context demonstrate this meaning?
  5. Describe the involvement of Judith and William Shakespeare’s parents in each of their young lives.
  6. What does Woolf mean by, “The force of her own gift alone drove her to it” ?
  7. How does Judith’s experience of trying to get in the theater contrast with her brother’s?
  8. How does Woolf characterize the theater manager? What specific word choices does Woolf make in this characterization?
  9. What does Woolf mean by “[h]e hinted—you can imagine what” ?
  10. How do Woolf’s characterizations of Nick Greene, Judith’s father, and the theater manager develop a central idea of the text?
  11. What was Judith finally driven to do? Why did she commit this act?
  12. How does the use of the words “caught and tangled” create meaning and add beauty to the text: “who shall measure the heat and violence … caught and tangled in a woman’s body” ?

End of the Lesson Assessment: Respond-

How does Woolf’s comparison of Shakespeare to his sister further develop and build upon a central idea in the text?

Homework: Analyze how Woolf uses the imaginary tale of Shakespeare’s sister Judith to bring out the purpose of her lecture ( hint: Woolf’s use of language to describe the characters and their actions).


Day 3

Objectives: Students will be able to bring out the implications in quotations from Virginia Woolf’s  A Room of One’s Own.

Aim: Why is the significance accorded to women by male fiction a kind of sham or dodge with regard to real-life women? How can women address this problem in recovering women’s history?


Do Now: What do you notice about the syntax of the following quotation?

 On Women and Literature
  "Indeed, if woman had no existence save in the fiction written by men, 
    one would imagine her a person of the utmost importance;very various; 
    heroic and mean;splendid and sordid; infinitely beautiful and hideous 
    in the extreme;as great as a man, some think even greater.But this 
    is woman in fiction.In fact, as Professor Trevelyan points out,she 
    was locked up, beaten and flung about the room. A very queer,composite being thus emerges.  Imaginatively she is of the highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant.  She pervades poetry from cover to cover; she is all but absent from history."

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice

  1. Respond to the following quotation-

When analyzing a quotation, focus on diction, imagery, syntax and tone used to bring out the deeper meaning.

 "When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman 
    possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very 
    remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a 
    lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane 
    Austen, some Emily Brontë who dashed her brains out on the moor or 
    mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her 
    gift had put her to.  Indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who 
    wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman."

Discuss the following questions:

  1. Woolf imagines the career of of Shakespeare’s fictional sister, Judith. What happens to Judith, and why? How does Judith’s fate show that “genius” is not above history and material circumstance?
  2. Why, according to Woolf, is Shakespeare so little known as a person? What was granted to him that would not have been granted to a sister with equal potential?

Student Independent Practice

In small groups, analyze two quotations of your choice-

On Narrative Voice
1. " ‘I’ is only a convenient term for somebody who has no real being.  
   Lies will flow from my lips, but there may perhaps be some truth mixed 
   up with them; it is for you to seek out this truth and to decide whether 
   any part of it is worth keeping. . . .
   Here then was I (call me Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael or by 
   any name you please—it is not a matter of any importance) . . ."  
   (Chapter 1)
    On Men and Women
 2. "I pondered why it was that Mrs. Seton had no money to leave us; and 
    what effect poverty has on the mind; and what effect wealth has on the 
    mind; . . . and I thought of the organ booming in the chapel and of 
    the shut doors of the library; and I thought how unpleasant it is to 
    be locked out; and I thought how it is worse perhaps to be locked 
    in. . . ." (Chapter 1).
3. [On men’s anger, "the one fact" retrieved from her morning’s work at 
   the British Museum]  
   "Possibly when the professor insisted a little too emphatically upon 
   the inferiority of women, he was concerned not with their inferiority 
   but with his own superiority. . . .  Women have served all these 
   centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power 
   of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.  Without 
   that power probably the earth would still be swamp and jungle." 
   (Chapter 2)
 4."For masterpieces are not single and solitary births; they are the 
   outcome of many years of thinking in common, of thinking by the body of 
   the people, so that the experience of the mass is behind the single 
   voice."  (Chapter 4; cf. T.S. Eliot, "Tradition and the Individual 
   Talent," 1919)
5. "Literature is open to everybody.  I refuse to allow you, Beadle though 
   you are, to turn me off the grass.  Lock up your libraries if you like; 
   but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the 
   freedom of my mind."  (Chapter 4)
6. "For we think back through our mothers if we are women.  It is useless 
   to go to the great men writers for help, however much one may go to 
   them for pleasure.  Lamb, Browne, Thackeray, Newman, Sterne, Dickens, 
   De Quincey—whoever it may be—never helped a woman yet, though she may 
   have learnt a few tricks of them and adapted them to her use."  
   (Chapter 4)

End of the Lesson Assessment: Through the quotations you have analyzed, how would you describe Virginia Woolf’s persona( voice, position, tone etc) as revealed in these quotations?

Homework: Write an analysis on how Virginia Woolf attacks the  gender role imposed upon women in history as well as reveals her point of view about why it would have been “impossible” for a woman to write Shakespeare’s works during his time through rhetorical analysis (hints: parallel structure, rhetorical question, alliteration, allusion)


Day 4

Objectives: Students will be able to continue to analyze the speaker’s purpose through rhetorical analysis.

Aim: What arguments (in the speech) you agree? Disagree? Why?



Do Now: Share the pair quotation analysis.

Mini Lesson

  1. Read the Quotations analysis . Do you agree? Why or why not?
  2. Listen to the recording of the 2nd half of chapter 3. Follow and annotate. Circle one claim that you strongly agree; one you wish to challenge.

Student Independent Practice: Introduction to theories on Feminism

In small groups, students will read and discuss theories on feminism. Identify Woolf’s stance and explain why. Provide evidence s to support your claim.

End of the Lesson Assessment: Which idea in Woolf’s lecture would you like to challenge? Why?

Homework: Develop a paragraph in which you challenge Woolf’s idea.


Day 5

Objectives: Students will be able to challenge one of Woolf’s claims as expressed in chapter 3 of A Room of One’s Own through small group discussions.

Do Now: Share a view by Woolf that you strongly agree. Briefly explain why.

Mini Lesson:

How to challenge an author’s view?

Read a student sample essay and find two examples that the student uses to challenge Woolf’s views. Study her strategy of refutation.

Share the paragraph you have written  in pairs . What can you add based on what you  have learned from the sample essay?

Student Independent Practice

Identify a 2nd idea from Woolf’s essay ( chapter 3) and use reasoning and example to refute her idea from your contemporaneity perspective.

End of the Lesson Assessment: How do we challenge an idea?

Homework: Based on the two claims you are challenging, what thesis can you develop? Read chapter 1 ( half) and continue annotating by seeking claims that you strongly agree and disagree.


Summative Assessment

In  A Room of Once Own by Virginia  Woolf,  she addresses the necessity of female writers’ gaining financial independence in order to create great writing. While advocating for women’s financial freedom, she also states that ” it is fatal for anyone who writes to think of their sex. It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly pr man-womanly… and the androgynous mind is resonant and porous; that it transmits emotions without impediment…”. To Woolf, to think and write only from a woman’s perspectives will only reveal an undeveloped mind. She considers Shakespeare as a perfect example of genius or literary master who ” used writing as an art, not a method of self-expression.”

Select a passage from chapter 3 of A Room of Once Own by Woolf, from which you identify the claims she makes concerning the conditions that contribute to great writing. Then write an essay in which you either defend or challenge her views on the conditions that necessitate great writing. Use appropriate evidence and examples to support your argument.


Guidelines for writing an argument essay-

Overview:  With this type of essay, you need to persuasively agree, disagree or qualify a stated quotation through a well-reasoned presentation of evidence developed from observations, experience, or reading. HAVING detailed development of evidence is crucial.

Step one:  Interpreting the meaning of the assertion

  1. Make sure you understand what the prompt (assertion) is asking.
  2. State the meaning in your own words.
  3. Decide your initial position
  4. *BEWARE* of any prejudicial attitudes, sentiments, or stereotypes you have, these are not reasons to agree or disagree.
  5. Have specific and accurate evidence
  6. be specific and accurate —named and factually correct
  7. avoid using movies, tv shows and other more informal aspects of society as evidence
  8. reflect a well-educated, widely-read, mature individual’s thoughtful reaction
  9. be unified, specific, accurate, adequate, relevant, and representative
  10. avoid evidence that everybody will cite.

Step two:  Organizing the Essay

Begin by writing a meaningful opening sentence or two which makes a personal observation about the focus of question that reveals your thinking.  DON’T write flowery, general beginnings.

  1. get to the point, use the first sentence or two to begin to define the meaning of the assertion.
  2. Allude to something here that will be finished in the conclusion.
  3. End with the thesis you wrote while Brainstorming.
  4. KEEP TRACT OF YOUR TIME…if you are running out of time at the end, skip part of the body and write a strong, “I know everything and I am King/Queen of the world” conclusion!!!

Agree or disagree with an assertion by explaining your stance.

  1. NEVER, NEVER SAY:  “I think, or I feel…”. You either agree or disagree.
  2. Acknowledge both sides of the argument.
  3. A con/pro paragraph works immediately after the introduction.
  4. Address every issue raised in the passage.
  5. Your evidence should be specifically named examples that support your claim.
  6. Having two unrelated examples is wonderful (personal observation, experience, and or reading)
  7. Each paragraph should end with an interpretation of the similar conclusion that can be reached after examining differing types of evidence.( SO WAHT)

Step three:  The rest of the very interesting information

 State your thesis in the form of a conclusion resulting from the evidence previously examined. Tie up loose ends established in the intro by making a conclusion about how the assertion just explored applies to the overall human experience.

  1. *  Make sure you take a paragraph to clearly summarize what the assertion means.
  2. *  Use a variety of evidence.  Try to include at THREE different examples with at least one of them being a novel of literary merit.
  3. *  In your intro. You must clearly state if you agree or disagree.
  4. *  Use examples that support your thesis.  Don’t claim you disagree and then give examples that prove the assertion is true.
  5. *  Read the ASSERTION carefully, you can’t make a passing score if you misread the prompt.
  6. *  Fully explain your examples.  A paragraph for each specific example.
  7. *  At some point make a connection between the prompt and real life.
  8. *  If you know the author’s names, state them
  9. *  Try to use evidence that is unique, not one that everyone will be using.

Paragraph structure

  1. Topic sentence – refers to thesis found in the introduction
  2. Concrete detail sentence #1 shows support for the topic sentence. (For example…)
  3. Commentary
  4. Commentary
  5. Concrete detail sentence #2 shows support for the topic sentence (In addition…)
  6. Commentary
  7. Commentary
  8. Concrete detail sentence #3 shows support for the topic sentence (furthermore…)
  9. Commentary
  10. Commentary

Concluding sentence – sums up the paragraph

  1. That’s right each paragraph is about 11-12 sentences long.
  2.  Author’s name: Avoid “the reading” or “the article” or “the prompt” – use the author’s whole name or last name Never refer to an author by first name only.  Do not use:  Mr., Mrs., etc
  3. Cliches: DON’T USE THEM, after all that’s why they are called cliché’s, they are overused.
  4. I: Avoid using first person too often.  A few scattered is ok.  Any word used too often is redundant.
  5. Indent: Clearly indent for paragraphs – do not skip lines between paragraph.
  6. Key terms: Define key terms in the context of your analysis if necessary – show you understand what the important ideas mean.
  7. Paraphrasing : Avoid extensive paraphrasing.
  8. Praising: Avoid praising the prompt essay or aspects of the prompt essay: “A perfect example…” – nothing is perfect; “This is an outstanding…”  that is an opinion
  9. quotation marks: Use them!when appropriate!
  10. “Says”:DON’T USE THAT WORD…..These are “happy”words: Asserts                   acknowledges, stresses                   claims                    believes, Argues                    contends, suggests                 points out              adds, Concludes             begins                                     indicates                                conveys
  11. “show”: Again this is a BAD WORD:   illustrate                 produce                 establish                                present                   offer                       refute  indicate                  create                     clarify                    reveal                     demonstrate         convey provide                  portray                   prove                      illuminate              discredit
  12. “than/then”: use “then” and “than” correctly.  “Then” is when; “than” is a comparison that means “In relation  to.”
  13. Thesis: make your thesis statement as specific as possible.
  14. you/your”:Avoid the second person voice:  the use of pronouns  “you” and “your”.