Asides and extremes in depicting alternating psychological perspectives

“Or there were the poets and thinkers. Suppose he had that passion, and had gone to Sir William Bradshaw, a great doctor yet to her obscurely evil, without sex or lust, extremely polite to women, but capable of some indescribable outrage — forcing your soul, that was it — if this young man had gone to him, and Sir William had impressed him, like that, with his power, might he not then have said (indeed she felt it now, Life is made intolerable; they make life intolerable, men like that?

Then (she had felt it only this morning) there was the terror, the overwhelming  incapacity, one’s parents giving it into one’s hands, this life, to be lived to the end, to be walked with serenely  there was in the depths of her heart an awful fear.” (141)

Notes: What especially captivated me about this passage is how Woolf depicts multiple characters simultaneously. Woolf presents the perspective of Bradshaw, Septimus, and Clarissa. Through phrases like “obscurely evil”, “indescribably outrage”, and “overwhelming incapacity”, Woolf creates an atmosphere of extreme psychological distress that relates to multiple characters. The asides, marked by both hyphens and parentheses, convey an uneasy and disjointed narrative that lends itself to the intensity and erracticness of the content.

1 thought on “Asides and extremes in depicting alternating psychological perspectives

  1. I love the last part of this quote. It makes me think of Woolf’s obsession of “life itself” in much of her work. There’s this feeling as though as an individual we are handed this thing, this life, as it is placed in our arms for us to care for and carry out to the end. It’s an odd way of looking at life, as though it’s a physical thing to present to others, as if to say, ‘here, this is what I’ve made of my life.” Are we to understand that Woolf believes that our lives should consist of something significant that we can easily present to others, or exactly the opposite?

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