The Manifestations Of Woolf And Aubrac’s European Resistances

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Throughout their time Virginia Woolf and Lucie Aubrac embodied different manifestations of women’s resistance in relation to the rise of totalitarian governments in Europe. This essay is based upon research and their evidence the crucial questions of: “what forms did resistance take for each woman and why?” and “what role did gender play in Woolf and Aubrac’s conceptions of resistance?” will be developed and explained by diving deep into the sources of Outwitting the Gestapo (Aubrec), Three Guineas (Woolf), research from class notes, and the book, Changing Lives: Women in European History Since 1700. Based on the evidence, hopefully the conclusion will be clearer and more apparent of how and why Woolf and Aubrac chose to create and follow through with their women’s resistances in Europe.

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was a crucial figure during the twentieth century, she was not only one of the great creators and innovators but an unforgettable character herself. Woolf and her husband Leonard founded the Hogarth Press, which published not only her works but those of other unconventional writers, including a complete rendition of Freud and his views. Woolf constantly wrestled with reoccurring mental breakdowns that induced intense productivity and the complete action of lucidity. Woolf refined the technique of inserting the interior monologue into a normal progression of all her novel’s narratives. Woolf’s critical writing was also especially clear concerning the state of women and the mess she felt men had made of the world. Woolf’s literary devices allowed her to investigate the question of women’s writing and indeed, women’s intellectual activity. For Woolf, she used these approaches to provide her clear answer that in order to achieve what men had. She believed that a woman needed money, and “a room of one’s own”. A room of one’s own can be associated with economic support and protection from the demands of domesticity or reproduction. Woolf’s book Three Guineas (1938) was an influential piece of her work that sustained these themes, only in this book Woolf made considerably stronger connections between injustices in the world at large and injustices against women. These issues on which she wrote upon made people very livid. Suddenly, men could see what it had been like for women to live in such a world where the values of liberty, individual rights, and justice did not apply to all individuals. However, the ruling by exclusion and having scapegoats of fascism, as it was then developing across Europe, just took the old way of doing things and applied it to new and improved groups in society.

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The forms of resistance that Woolf took is seen in her book, Three Guineas, Woolf proposes different strategies for the resistance to fascism and war. She leads in with the concern of women’s difference from men, also Woolf cultivates an interesting perspective for a feminist critique in relation to the enlightenment that stresses the potential of women as “outsiders”. As a result, Woolf challenges the existing male political positions to reveal the ethical and visual potential for her call to women’s critically freed response to their societies “status quo”. By being a women Woolf was able to get by with a lot of things men would have been significantly punished for doing. Woolf states, “What reason or what emotion can make us hesitate to become members of a society whose aims we approve, to whose funds we have contributed? It may be neither reason nor emotion, but something more profound and fundamental than either. It may be difference” . Based on this quote, readers can see how Woolf was driven by an urge to change things for women all over Europe to make society far for all. The emphasis of the perplexing nature of the “society of outsiders” insinuates that Woolf is laying the foundation for an unusual and feminist modernist aesthetics, in which causes her to radically undermine the supposed split between progressive politics and high modernist form in the 1930s. While walking through Woolf strategies it became apparent that her pressing matter was one of fascism, and she was determined to answer the question “how are we to prevent war?” in a society where war seemed unavoidable. In the third section of Three Guineas, Woolf once again stands up and refuses to sign an anti-fascist petition because she declared that, “if we sign this form which implies a promise to become active members of your society, it would seem that we lose that difference and therefore sacrifice that help.” Instead, Woolf suggests that a new resistance, “The Society of Outsiders,” should be formed together by their status as outsiders in their society, for example, the society would not contain white men, but instead it would be united in their aim to end the threat of fascism. With Woolf’s Society of Outsiders, she was able to achieve an even more influential role in society than she ever anticipated. Today, one may realize that the Women’s March and its sister programs is the modern-day realizations of Woolf’s own Society of Outsiders.

Next off, Lucie Aubrac (1912-2007), a French history teacher and crucial member of the French Resistance during World War II. In her book, Outwitting the Gestapo, Aubrac is sharing her influential account of her participation in the French Resistance. It all began when she was troubled by the poverty she saw in Paris during the Great Depression, as a result she became a passionate affiliate of the French Communist Party. When, Aubrec was finally authorized to enter the Sorbonne (The University of Paris) in 1937, she studied and then to her advantage graduated only one year later. After university, Aubrac obtained her first teaching job at one of France’s state-funded secondary schools in Strasbourg. Unlike many women in France, Aubrac was never under any illusion that Marshal Pétain’s government headquartered in the small town of Vichy, was legitimate. In the fall of 1940, Aubrec became one of the earliest members of the French Resistance. The growing movement was dedicated to undermining the Vichy regime which was the French government that succeeded the Third Republic from July 1940 to August 1944.

Yet the story of how Lucie Aubrac “Outwitted the Gestapo” is an interesting one. On June 21, 1943, Aubrac’s husband Raymond was arrested once again, along with the chief of the Resistance leader Jean Moulin, in a Gestapo raid in the Lyon. General Klaus Barbie and his officers beat and tortured both men; Sadly, Moulin later die from his injuries. It was while Raymond was being held in Montluc prison that Lucie (pregnant with their second child at the time) visited Barbie to ask that her “fiancé” be released due to his ill health. After Barbie flatly rejected her pleas, Lucie returned again, and was informed that Raymond was being sentenced to death. As a result, Aubrac of course knew that she has to do something to save her fiancé. Consequently, Aubrac gained access to another German officer and won his sympathy, citing a French law allowing prisoners condemned to death to marry. The deception worked, and on October 21 the “wedding” took place at Gestapo headquarters. However, hours later, as the Germans transported Raymond back to prison, Lucie and several other armed members of the Resistance attacked a van, killing several German officers and freeing Raymond along with 16 other prisoners. This is when Aubrac knew by using her feminine abilities and characteristics she found out how she could outsmart the gestapo and why she continued fighting for the resistance.

Even as Aubrac lived a devoted life as wife, mother, and teacher, she was also involved as an underground freedom fighter. As an underground freedom fighter, Aubrac was able to help publish the journal Le Libération, while delivering packages, distributing propaganda and helping imprisoned resisters escape the Vichy’s penitentiaries. As Aubrac affirmed, “… the resistance’s memory is our resource; whenever racism or fascism tries to reappear, our watchfulness draws us together. We then become partners once again in a struggle that has been our source of pride, and for this we also struggle to keep the young from forgetting”. Based on the common factors, Aubrac took the form of being an underground freedom fighter and journalist in order to help the many people of France who were being oppressed by the Vichy regime and to fight for equality among all religions, races, and genders. Even many years after the different wars, Lucie Aubrac’s name is still known throughout history and in France by her courage and unique way to outsmart the infamous harsh Gestapo in order to save the ones she loved.

In conclusion, both of these amazing and independent women did what they had to do to fight for what they thought was right. In the end, both Aubrac and Woolf became notable women in history based on their confidence and determination. They both joined different kinds of resistance groups fighting for different causes, but each woman wanted to implement a substantial greater good for society. In their own way, Aubrac and Woolf both posed as significant figures for representing the acts of “feminism” in different ways and they both became national hero’s for women all around the world. By using their feminine intellectuality and being able to slide under the radar due to their gender, these women accomplished things that men never could have fathomed about. Lastly, because of their brave acts and confidence it became contagious in women’s society and caused women all around the world to learn how to stand up and fight for equality in society and what they believe in.    


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