Language and ideology in West, Macaulay, and Woolf
Daisley, Lee Malcolm
At the outbreak of the First World War, the archaic principles of nationalism and masculinity ruled Britain. These principles placed on men expectations that had become unrealistic due to the changed nature of warfare. The new horrors of war and the loss of the masculine characteristic of self-control produced a high frequency of combat trauma. For such victims of the war, the healing of psychological conditions required the assignment of meaning to their trauma, accomplished through the communication of loss to the civilian population. The problem was the inability of most non-combatants, including medical doctors, to comprehend ideas outside of the language-supported ideology that governed perception of reality. Instead of empathy, traumatized veterans were met with demands of conformity to the standards of masculinity established long before the war. Veterans who dissented from the official line of God, King and Country were silenced by the very society they fought to protect. Women writers, however, were free from the strictures of masculinity and were thus able to act as proxies to their counterparts. Rebecca West, Rose Macaulay, and Virginia Woolf challenged the dominant assumptions of war trauma and masculinity, each identifying language and anachronous ideology as the primary means used to promote conventional thought and silence discordance in society.
DegreeMaster of Arts (M.A.)
Copyright DateNovember 2010