Tag Archives: woolf

Faltered Reality

“How it rejoiced her that! Not for weeks had they laughed like this together, poking fun privately like married people. What she meant was that if Mrs. Filmer had come in, or Mrs. Peters or anybody they would not have understood what she and Septimus were laughing at”

Woolf, Virginia.  Mrs. Dalloway.  New York: Harcourt, 1981.

Notes: perception of reality faltered,  desire for consistency/normalcy, failed marriage,

expressing context through the text

Lady Bruton stood by Miss Parry’s chair, a spectral grenadier, draped in black, inviting Peter Walsh to lunch; cordial; but without small talk, remembering nothing whatever about the flora or fauna of India. She had been there, of course; had stayed with three Viceroys; thought some of the Indian civilians uncommonly fine fellows; but what a tragedy it was – the state of India!

Virginia Woolf, “Mrs. Dalloway,” http://www.mrs-dalloway.com/

Notes: This really speaks to me as a period piece. The names, the references to imperialism and the Gothic descriptions of Lady Bruton.

Superiority of Luxury

Why live? they demanded. Sir William replied that life was good. Certainly Lady Bradshaw in ostrich feathers hung over the mantelpiece, and as for his income it was quite twelve thousand a year. But to us, they protested, life has given no such bounty. He acquiesced. They lacked a sense of proportion.

Notes: abruptness in sentence structure = sense of superiority; good life = material – postwar mentality?; profession as authority

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1990), 101.

Sir William’s Racing Thoughts

“Health we must have; and health is proportion; so that when a man comes into your room and says he is Christ (a common delusion), and has a message, as they mostly have, and threatens, as they often do, to kill himself, you invoke proportion; order rest in bed; rest in solitude; silence and rest; rest without friends, without books, without messages; six months’ rest; until a man who went in weighing seven stone six comes out weighing twelve.”

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt,  1925. Print

Notes: The lack of periods in this passage makes it easy for the reader to see how quickly Sir William’s mind works. His thoughts fly by, and Woolf does a good job showing that with the lack of breaks in his thoughts.

Post War Mindset

“For it was the middle of June. The War was over, except for some one like Mrs. Foxcroft at theta the Embassy last night eating her heart out because that nice boy was killed and now the old Manor House must go to a cousin; or Lady Bexborough who opened a bazaar, they said, with the telegram in her hand, John her favourite killed; but it was over; thank Heaven—over. It was June. The King and Queen were at the Palace” (Woolf 5).

Notes: The fact that “The War” just occurred is important the story. World War I greatly influenced the mindset of the characters. They lived through fear and turmoil during the war and many experienced what it was like to lose a loved one. The character’s lives are not the same as it was before the war but there’s a sense of hope. The repetition of June emphasizes the sense of hope for a new beginning and the end of a war state of mind.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt,  1925. Print.

Liberal Views from the 1920s

She resented it, had a scruple picked up Heaven knows where, or, as she felt, sent by Nature (who is invariably wise); yet she could not resist sometimes yielding to the charm of a woman, not a girl, of a woman confessing, as to her they often did, some scrape, come folly. And whether it was pity, or their beauty, or that she was older, or some accident — like a faint scent, or a violin next door (so strange is the power of sounds at certain moments), she did undoubtedly then feel what men felt. Only for a moment; but it was enough.

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway, (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc.:, 1990), 31-2.

Notes: sexual liberty; Woolf is very liberal in her writing of the (believed by many to be, but we cannot ascribe a sexual orientation to a character) bisexuality of Clarissa Dalloway — this is surprising considering the time the novel was written in, but not too surprising given Woolf’s beliefs and experiences. This also depicts the feelings of confusion and certainty that Clarissa experiences in regards to her sexual orientation.

characters’ physical & mental connectedness

“That was satisfying; that was real. Ah, how she hated her — hot, hypocritical, corrupt; with all that power; Elizabeth’s seducer; the woman who had crept in to steal and defile (Richard would say, What nonsense!). She hated her: she loved her. It was enemies one wanted, not friends…”

Notes: hate/love synonymous? are these actually extremes/ opposites or more similar than we tend to think? both very strong human emotions wanting to connect to another person; esp. Miss Kilman’s intense desire for connection (ex: “Her large hand opened and shut on the table”) with Elizabeth; touches on book’s themes of connection between humans, how are people drawn to/away from others, one way this is done is the structure of the physical space of the novel, also interconnected minds of all characters, overlapping/ sharing thoughts, etc. (image of spider’s thread illustrates these connections, both physical & mental)

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. Australia: University of Adelaide. 2012. Web.

Older

There were roses; there were irises. Ah yes — so she breathed in the earthy garden sweet smell as she stood talking to Miss Pym who owed her help, and thought her kind, for kind she had been years ago; very kind, but she looked older, this year, turning her head from side to side among the irises and roses and nodding tufts of lilac with her eyes half closed, snuffing in, after the street uproar, the delicious scent, the exquisite coolness.

is ignorance bliss?

“It is the sense that there is no answer, that if honestly examined life presents question after question which must be left to sound on and on after the story is over in hopeless interrogation that fills us with a deep, and finally it may with a resentful, despair. They are right perhaps; unquestionably they see further than we do and without our gross impediments of vision. But perhaps we see something that escapes them…” (Woolf).

 

Virginia Woolf, “Modern Fiction,” in The Common Reader: First Series (San Diego: Harcourt, Inc., 1925), 153. Web.

Notes: uncertainty of life itself, the sadness that comes with awareness and deeper observation, ‘seeing’ beyond what is in front of us- is this why ‘ignorance is bliss’, because when we look further, we are prone to this ‘despair’? Who is ‘they’ and what are they right about?

 

 

Unintentional Improvement

We do not come to write better; all that we can be said to do is to keep moving, now a little in this direction, now a little in that, but with a circular tendency should the whole course of the track be viewed from a sufficiently lofty pinnacle.

Virginia Woolf, “Modern Fiction” in The Common Reader: First Series, (New York: Harcourt, Inc., 1925), 146.

Notes: Circular motions in writing produce new modernity. Keep it going, the modern can never die out. Modern keeps coming and going.