Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English & World Literature

Second Department


Reader 1

Professor Carmen Fought

Reader 2

Professor Sumangala Bhattacharya

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2022 Esme Fairbairn


This paper seeks to understand the experiences and representation of older women, both in fiction and real life as well as in the early 20th century and today. Firstly, I examine the female protagonists in three of Virginia Woolf’s novels before turning to a linguistic analysis that explores how older women perceive themselves today and how they think other groups – such as the media, the younger generation and men and women in their age group – perceive them. Woolf’s feminist style uncovers the existence of invisibility and embodied aging experienced by the so-called Angel in the House. This Woolfian analysis is then applied to contemporary notions of aging, beauty and visibility. Data collected from a survey distributed to women aged fifty-five and older illustrate the contradictions between how older women see themselves and how they think the media and younger generation portray them. Furthermore, many of the female participants experienced a shift in their linguistic tendencies from their youth, namely that, with age, they speak with more confidence.