Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
In this thesis I examine the sections of Vera Brittain's diary and Virginia Woolfs diary that were written during the First World War. My study identifies the extent to which each diarist succeeds in expressing herself within a culture which is dominated by masculine values of patriarchy and militarism. An initial premise from which the study arises is that men and women may respond differently within a given context and that women's responses to war have often been suppressed or overlooked within a male-dominated context. To analyze the war-time diaries I have divided the research into three areas: the diarist's relationship to social structures, the diarist's interpretation and use of the dominant language, and the diarist's relationship to the diary as a vehicle for self-expression. Brittain's and Woolfs backgrounds and literary ambitions are factors which determine each woman's attempt to find her own voice. From the analyses I conclude that Vera Brittain is the less able to understand and write honestly about her war experience as she is drawn into the masculine perspective and becomes dependent upon it in her grief. Virginia Woolf attempts to define her individuality and her writing by removing herself from the war and masculine ideology. However, in so doing she writes self-consciously and constructs voices which mayor may not be authentic, because they define themselves in opposition to the prevailing values and literary traditions. Each diary reveals the tension between the diarist and the dominant culture, and exposes the existence of a feminine voice.
North, Pamela, "A Crowd in The Voice: First World War Diaries of Vera Brittain and Virginia Woolf" (1996). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6549.
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