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The Influence of Sexual Detachment in Virginia Woolf’s Fiction

Amanda Stewart
Notre Dame College

Virginia Woolf, one of the most influential and prominent writers of the Modern Era, led a life that continues to attract and perplex individuals everywhere. Because of parallel events and themes, Woolf is speculated to have pursued traumatizing events from her own life through her characters and writing. Throughout her childhood and adolescent life, Woolf was sexually abused by her half-brother resulting in various psychological issues with men. The molestation experienced by Virginia Woolf as a child caused not only her own sexual detachment from men, but also contributed to the development of dysfunctional and sometimes sexless relationships observed by the characters in her novels. Virginia Woolf’s psychological issues and illnesses are attributable to numerous factors. Woolf’s household life contained children from an assortment of families; from her father’s first marriage, mother’s first marriage and including her actual parents’ marriage. According to The Cambridge Introduction to Virginia Woolf, she maintained close relationships with Vanessa, Thoby and Adrian, her half-brother George was guilty of sexual abuse (Goldman 5). Because the study of psychology was so underdeveloped during Woolf’s childhood and adolescence, the devastating effects of these issues were unresolved, resurfacing years later in her writings.

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