A Room of One's Own

To tell her story and make her argument, Woolf invents a narrator who she says could be any woman, "call me Mary Beton, Mary Seton, Mary Carmichael or by any name you please—it is not a matter of any importance," she says. This narrator guides the audience (and reader) visually and intellectually through a series of experiences in which she learns how women have been poor and why. The anonymity of the narrator and her ability to sympathize not just with women but with men gives her a sense of authority and, at the same time, a sense of being a person rather than being a woman, a point of view she advises her audience to assume if they are to become good writers.

The Narrator Quotes in A Room of One's Own

The A Room of One's Own quotes below are all either spoken by The Narrator or refer to The Narrator. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Financial and Intellectual Freedom Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harcourt edition of A Room of One's Own published in 1989.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Meanwhile the wineglasses had flushed yellow and flushed crimson; had been emptied; had been filled. And thus by degrees was lit, half-way down the spine, which is the seat of the soul, not that hard little electric light which we call brilliance, as it pops in and out upon our lips, but the more profound, subtle and subterranean glow which is the rich yellow flame of rational intercourse.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 11
Explanation and Analysis:

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What force is behind that plain china off which we dined, and (here it popped out of my mouth before I could stop it) the beef, the custard and the prunes?

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

Of the two—the vote and the money—the money, I own, seemed infinitely the more important.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 3 Quotes

Perhaps now it would be better to give up seeking for the truth, and receiving on one's head an avalanche of opinion hot as lava, discoloured as dish-water.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

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A very queer, composite being thus emerges. Imaginatively she is of the

highest importance; practically she is completely insignificant.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

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What one wants, I thought—and why does not some brilliant student at Newnham or Girton supply it?--is a mass of information; at what age did she marry; how many children had she as a rule; what was her house like, had she a room to herself; did she do the cooking; would she be likely to have a servant?

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Related Symbols: A Room of One's Own
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 4 Quotes

What a vision of loneliness and riot the thought of Margaret Cavendish brings to mind! as if some giant cucumber had spread itself over all the roses and carnations in the garden and choked them to death.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 62
Explanation and Analysis:

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All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, […] for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds. It is she—shady and amorous as she was—who makes it not quite fantastic for me to say to you to-night: Earn five hundred a year by your wits.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:
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She will write of herself where she should write of her characters. She is at war with her lot. How could she help but die young, cramped and thwarted?

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Related Symbols: A Room of One's Own
Page Number: 70
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

Do not start. Do not blush. Let us admit in the privacy of our own society that these things sometimes happen. Sometimes women do like women.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:

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Awkward though she was and without the unconscious bearing of long descent which makes the least turn of the pen of a Thackeray or a Lamb delightful to the ear, she had—I began to think—mastered the first great lesson; she wrote as a woman, but as a woman who has forgotten that she is a woman, so that her pages were full of that curious sexual quality which comes only when sex is unconscious of itself.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Mary Carmichael
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

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Give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker), Mary Carmichael
Related Symbols: A Room of One's Own
Page Number: 94
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 6 Quotes

The sight of two people coming down the street and meeting at the corner seems to ease the mind of some strain, I thought, watching the taxi turn and make off.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

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The Narrator Character Timeline in A Room of One's Own

The timeline below shows where the character The Narrator appears in A Room of One's Own. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Financial and Intellectual Freedom Theme Icon
Creating a Legacy of Women Writers Theme Icon
Truth Theme Icon
...her setting "Oxbridge" from two recognizable settings, Oxford and Cambridge. She has also invented an "I" voice with which to tell the story. This "I" could be any woman, she says,... (full context)
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The narrator muses as she sits on this bank, about the nature of her mind, how it... (full context)
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Women and Society Theme Icon
The narrator leaves the scene in anger. She considers what to do instead but before she can... (full context)
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Thinking of men and women humming Tennyson at lunchtime makes the narrator burst out laughing, and she has to excuse herself and explain that it was the... (full context)
Financial and Intellectual Freedom Theme Icon
The narrator believes that these verses are so beautiful because they make one recall feelings of the... (full context)
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Women and Society Theme Icon
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...splendor of colors in the twilight bring a romantic mood to the gardens and the narrator thinks she spots the famous feminist Jane Harrison. But she is interrupted from her exciting... (full context)
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The narrator and her friend Mary Seton retire to a sitting room and "repair some of the... (full context)
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The narrator considers what their mothers had been doing that stopped them creating a legacy, with colleges... (full context)
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Putting blame aside, the narrator and Mary Seton gaze out of the window at the awe-inspiring college buildings, and ponder... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Leaving Oxbridge behind, the narrator finds that the appropriate sequel to her first lecture is a visit to the British... (full context)
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The narrator arrives through a wet city day to the doors of the library and as she... (full context)
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The narrator notices an interesting contradiction in the views of these male writers on the topic of... (full context)
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The narrator realizes that she has expressed her own anger in this portrait, and tries to locate... (full context)
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Still thinking about the topic of male anger, the narrator leaves the library to get lunch at a restaurant. While she eats, she reads a... (full context)
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Perhaps, the narrator thinks, it is to do with their power that they are so angry – in... (full context)
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The narrator's thoughts are interrupted by the waiter handing her the bill for lunch. She takes this... (full context)
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Women's occupations are generally tedious and difficult and earn little money, and the narrator's temper has been therefore remarkably improved by her steady income and it also made her... (full context)
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The narrator heads home, where "domesticity prevailed", the house painter and maid working hard for the household.... (full context)
Chapter 3
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The narrator returns home disappointed that she hasn't found some nugget of truth with which to explain... (full context)
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The narrator goes again to books, this time a History of England, and finds a mere few... (full context)
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...women, with all the missing facts, about what she ate, what she did, and the narrator suggests that a young woman in the audience might try to accomplish it. For it... (full context)
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In fact the narrator believes that a woman like Judith, with all Shakespeare's talents, would never... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Continuing from her explanation of Shakespeare's ‘incandescence', the narrator shows how it's practically impossible for a woman to possess the same quality. Just look... (full context)
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But the narrator does admit that women of higher standing have better luck. Men react more favorably to... (full context)
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The narrator is imagining what Lady Winchilsea's comforts and trials must have been like because very little... (full context)
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The narrator then turns to her next example, Margaret of Newcastle, who, like Lady Winchilsea was noble... (full context)
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The narrator continues her tirade, now pulling Aphra Behn from the shelf. Behn is unlike the others... (full context)
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...them with an insight into collective experience – this all leads to good fiction, the narrator claims. (full context)
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The narrator explains that middle-class women had been trained for centuries for novels, by having to observe... (full context)
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Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is a good novel, the narrator believes, even though Austen wasn't proud to be writing and had to hide the manuscript... (full context)
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The narrator goes on to explore what it takes for a novel to rouse the emotions in... (full context)
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The narrator quotes a passage from the New Criterion about how female novelists should only write according... (full context)
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...novel is different in that it is newer and more open to women, but the narrator imagines that as women become freer in society, they will open up the form of... (full context)
Chapter 5
Women and Society Theme Icon
Creating a Legacy of Women Writers Theme Icon
...they are more artful and have less of women's struggling within them. To investigate, the narrator opens a novel by Mary Carmicheal called "Life's Adventure". Though this hypothetical text is a... (full context)
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The narrator finds herself praising Olivia for her complexity and tells herself off – there's no justification... (full context)
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With this in mind, the narrator warns Mary Carmicheal that by staying outside the viewpoint of Chloe and Olivia, she risks... (full context)
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The narrator stops herself from continuing to tell Mary what she should write, and instead goes back... (full context)
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As she reads, the narrator waits nervously for the important moment that Mary Carmicheal must show if she is to... (full context)
Chapter 6
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The next morning, the narrator looks out at the London street and notices that nobody there much cares about Shakespeare's... (full context)
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...mind is androgynous, with feminine and masculine aspects and no fight between the two. The narrator goes to the library again and thinks she has begun to explain the expanse of... (full context)
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The narrator opens a novel written by Mr. A, a typical male novelist, and is relieved to... (full context)
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Going back to the shelves, the narrator gets on to the subject of Italian literature, which she says is suffering from anxiety... (full context)
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Going to her writing desk, thinking of the first line for Women and Fiction, the narrator settles on the most important idea, that it is fatal for a writer to think... (full context)