Georges Letissier. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Lanchester, John. Mr Phillips. London: Penguin, Latham, Monica. London: Palgrave, La Fabrique du texte. Lippincott, Robin. Mr Dalloway. Louisville: Sarabande Books, Margolin, Uri. Calin-Andrei Mihailescu and Walid Harmarneh. Toronto: Toronto UP, McHale, Brian. Postmodernist Fiction. London: Routledge: McNichol, Stella, ed. London: Vintage, Richardson, Brian. Berlin: De Gruyter, Ryan, Marie-Laure. Saint-Gelais, Richard. Schiff, James.
Shakespeare, William. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, Ugresic, Dubravka. Lend Me Your Character. London: Dalkey Archive P, Woolf, Virginia. Between the Acts. Andrew McNeillie. The Diary of Virginia Woolf. Anne Olivier Bell. The Essays of Virginia Woolf. Jeanne Schulkind. New York: Harcourt, The Voyage Out. Wussow, Helen. New York: Pace UP, They discuss terms such as possible worlds, transfictionality, versioning, and postmodern rewrites. See the concept of transfictionality proposed by Richard Saint-Gelais in For Genette, hypertextuality is one of the five subcategories of a broader term, transtextuality, which he defines as everything that puts a text in relationship with another text.
Three more from Virginia Woolf
There can be combinations, but one operation remains dominant. For an exhaustive analysis of the process of rewriting Mrs Dalloway by contemporary authors, see Latham, A Poetics of Postmodernism and Neomodernism. Of course, I've only been feeling my way into it—up till last August anyhow. Moments of being could be a result of instances of shock, discovery or revelation.
See Genette See Diary 3: Readers make an emotional investment in such individuals and are acquainted with them, even if they have not read the original score: such characters become part of the collective imagination. They are endowed with an almost mythical aura. She has published a monograph entitled A Poetics of Postmodernism and Neomodernism: Rewriting Mrs Dalloway London: Palgrave, and numerous articles on modernist and postmodernist authors.
Contents - Next document. Outline 1.
Virginia Woolf's sense of time
Clarissa Dalloway in Bond Street: the advent of a modernist character. Victor Phillips, a neo-modernist reincarnation of Clarissa Dalloway. Full text PDF Send by e-mail. Virginia Woolf, Diary 2: 1. Introduction 1 Critics have considered the way characters are extracted from the text where they are born and expo The space of this article, however, does 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 through 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 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. While traversing its streets, she enjoys the perception of multitudes of impressions, she is aware of being the part of that organic universe.
These various impressions often remind her of something from her past, which often leads to a longer train of thought or an account on a past event. Another time, the strokes of Big Ben have different impact. Three already! Thus, it seems that Clarissa does not have trouble to accept the inevitable passage of time and its remainder. To this monumental time belong the figures of authority and power that form the counterweight to the living times experienced by Clarissa and Septimus. He is completely absorbed in his internal thoughts and sorrows, and the external reality, which in fact caused his illness, oppresses him.
By the means of the latter, he escapes from the linear chronological temporal order to the non-linearity of his consciousness. The monumental time that slowly destroys Septimus is represented by the imperial clock-striking of Big Ben, royal car passing the street, a plane flying above the park and mainly by his doctors, first Dr Holmes and then Sir William Bradshaw.
They both rather bother Septimus than cure him, they want to re-establish his sense of reality, force him to forget the past, but is it possible? Of course not, for someone so profoundly psychically wounded as Septimus is. First, they may not be able to conceive and identify space.
Second, they may be troubled with the inability to hold the idea of time. As a result, they as if lived outside the reality determined by space and time. Septimus seems to have problems with the reacquisition of the idea of time. He is absorbed in his inner self and his past, and every remainder of the present reality hurts him more profoundly.
Worshipping proportion, Sir William not only prospered himself but made England prosper, secluded her lunatics, forbade childbirth, penalised despair. Mrs Dalloway 73 On the contrary, Clarissa does not seem to trouble herself with the acceptance of the monumental time. But she must go back - She must assemble. She must find Sally and Peter. Thus, while the reader gets to the very end of the novel, he is suddenly exposed to the contradictory nature of Mrs Dalloway and her double-sided experience of time.
The characters are introduced to us at the very beginning of the novel; we are acquainted with their present situation and mental state. We do not know much about them at that point. Thus, Woolf digs imaginary holes under and around the characters and these holes are widened and deepened as we learn more about them and their lives. The tunnels are constantly created among all the characters and they are finally all interconnected. As we know, the two characters actually never meet in the novel, and the only character that indirectly relates them is doctor Bradshaw.
The novel is contemplative and autobiographical to a great extent. Ives, Cornwall. As in other novels she tries to capture the past, contemplate it, and finally reconcile with it. Let us focus also on other aspects of the novel as the character of Mrs Ramsay and Lily Briscoe, the natural time expressed by breaking of waves, the lighthouse as the symbol of something stable and close relation between time and space. The novel is divided into three parts which represent different stages in the lives of the members of the Ramsay family. The reader does not have the impression of a direct temporal continuity between the two parts that rather represent two separate narratives which are loosely connected by the bridge of time in between.
Lily Briscoe is later haunted with the image of dead Mrs Ramsay and her clumsy paintings, as Mr Tansley evaluated them. It is the lighthouse and its light strokes that unify the characters, create their common setting and advance the story in To the Lighthouse. Moreover, it is the central motif of the novel as mentioned above in the connection with the voyage. It is inevitable for all the characters to face the view of the lighthouse every day. In addition, the lighthouse is indirectly present even is their rooms when its light regularly beams over the sea and the land.
Clarissa Dalloway also anticipates the strokes of Big Ben in the same way as Mrs Ramsay waits for the light beam of the lighthouse. However, the lighthouse is not the only thing that underlines and reflects life rhythm or life cycle and has various effects on the perceiver. Waves are another element executing this function:. On the one hand, it is the comforting sound that makes us aware of our lives, but on the other hand, it distresses us, because we realize how our lives vanish similarly as the ebb and flow of the sea water.
The character of Addie was also similar to omnipresent aura which affects all the other people in relation to her despite of the fact that she is dead. She is also the mover of the action of the novel in the same way as Mrs Ramsay in To the Lighthouse. We know her inner thoughts concerning herself, but also her thoughts concerning the others. She tries to shape the reality and the others according to her own picture. This is most evident in her effort to create a pleasant environment for all her family and guests even though she dislikes some of them, for example Mr Tansley.
She unconsciously foists her thoughts to the others: I [Mrs Ramsay] am drowning, my dear, in seas of fire. Unless you apply some balm to the anguish of this hour and say something nice to that young man [Mr Tansley] there, life will run upon the rocks — indeed I hear the grating and the growling at this minute She conceives world as the organic unity where her place is relative to the other components of the structure.
On another occasion, she punctually prepares the dinner for her family and guests, and she tries to transform the ordinary time at the table into unforgettable, profound and slow- downed moment. And she must take great care, Mrs. Ramsay thought, dividing into the soft mass, to choose a specially tender piece for William Bankes.
And she peered into the dish, with its shiny walls and its confusion of savoury brown and yellow meats, and is bay leaves and its wine, and thought, This will celebrate the occasion — a curious sense rising in her, at once freakish and tender, of celebrating a festival. She has the intention to be eternally fixed in the flow of time and be the part of the memories of the others: They would, she thought, going on again, however long they lived, come back to this night; this moon; this wind; this house; and to her too.
It flattered her, where she was most susceptible of flattery, to think how, wound about in their hearts, however long they lived she would be woven; and this, and this, and this, she thought, going upstairs. Lily Briscoe has a very strong relationship with Mrs Ramsay and admires her for everything. Could she inflict that still? Ramsay — it was part of her perfect goodness to Lily — sat there quite simply, in the chair, flicked her needles to and fro, knitted her reddish-brown stocking, cast her shadow on the step. There she sat. The ecstasy connected to the act of performing is a circular movement during which the subject plunges deep into reality or past, experiences the feeling of transcendence and then return to the reality, but that reality is seen in a new light Prudente 8.
For this reason it is conceived rather as the recreation of the past Prudente Lily may represent the artist who struggles with his artistic belief and ruminates about her way of artistic creation in the same way as Woolf introduces these considerations in her essays, for example. Through the character of Lily and her painting Woolf thus offers us an insight into her vision concerning writing.
As it has already been analysed in the previous chapters, Woolf uses narrative techniques that link the present with the past and her writing is often the result of the juxtaposition of the two temporal spheres. It was done; it was finished. This process of painting thus helped Lily to organise and settle her memories in her mind and to reconcile herself with the past.
From the beginning of the novel Mr Ramsay gives us the impression of being very reserved, pessimistic and unbalanced. He is not gifted with the ability to experience the ecstatic alienation from reality into the depth of his consciousness. After the death of Mrs Ramsay he quite changes his attitude because he loses the feeling of certainty provided by his wife. He thus tries to accomplish what he missed in the past and by that way he tries to bring the past back similarly as Lily by her painting.
He thus undergoes the sail, and finally rewards even his son James. James achieves his dreamt voyage and in addition, he is praised by his father, which means more to him than the sail. Now he has crowned the occasion, she thought, when his hand slowly fell, as if she had seen him let fall from his great height a wreath of violets and asphodels which, fluttering slowly, lay at length upon the earth. He probably undergoes quite significant change of his character. He is able to praise his son and renounce partly his pride that is symbolized by the fall of the imaginary wreath off his head.
Some sort of revelation thus affects even Mr Ramsay. Moreover, the novel begins with the idea of going to the lighthouse and it finishes with it. Sometimes, time is projected into some spatial element Ulvydiene 58 , for example the distance or magnitude. The novel To the Lighthouse provides several examples on which this phenomenon may be demonstrated.
The images of distant landscape often represent some temporal dimension, insight to the past or to the future. In this passage Mr Ramsay tackles the feeling of solitude and subjectively experiences a time shift which is provoked by the physical alienation from his house. The actual distance between him and the house thus represents the period of several years and shifts him into the imaginary future.
She was thinking how all those paths and the lawn, thick and knotted with the lives they had lived there, were gone: were rubbed out; were past; were unreal. The most important element in this passage is the paths that may symbolically represent the lives of the Ramsays. Cam points out to the future where their lives may be lost. Ramsay ironically, staring at the hedge. What, indeed, if you look from a mountain-top down the long wastes of ages?
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Woolf thus uses natural elements and spatial dimensions to design some temporal feature. She weds time and space in order to provide more profound picture of the environment as if she wanted to show what all is behind physical things, and she also unites the characters with their environment in this way. The reader has the feeling that the thoughts of the characters, concerning the time for example, are mirrored in the natural or spatial scene appearing in the novel.
Let us outline and summarise the most important narrative features Woolf uses while treating the phenomenon of time. She is interested in the process happening in human consciousness while perceiving external reality.
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This conscious process is always influenced by our experience and memories from the past. In this way, Woolf often links the present and the past, she combines different temporal dimensions of her works. According to him, our consciousness works on the principle of the juxtaposition of the present perceptions and past memories, which creates a completely new image penetrated with the present and the past simultaneously.
Sometimes, the past is linked with traumas, as in the case of Septimus in Mrs Dalloway, and with unaccomplished wishes and promises as pointed out in the analysis of To the Lighthouse. Woolf novels often serve as a means to pursue the past and reconcile with it. That is most evident in the novel To the Lighthouse, partly also in Mrs Dalloway. This is based on the principle of the succession of perceived images that are gradually replaced by new ones. During this moment, the character is exposed to some intensive external stimulus that makes him alienate himself from the reality and forces him to plunge into his consciousness.
As already analysed in the chapter devoted to the novel Mrs Dalloway, Woolf does not want her readers to be drowned in the flood of details concerning the characters, but she prefers to supply him with smaller doses of the story. The tunnels of all the characters are interconnected at the very end of the novel, and the whole mosaic of the story, which reminds us of impressionist paintings, is completed.
Apart from specific writing methods, Woolf applies several other elements to enrich her temporal play. Her works usually have some kind of unifier that sets her character in the given place and time. Thus, Woolf is interested in the juxtaposition of the chronological time, or the monumental time, and subjectively perceived time.
This circularity also enables the author to plunge her characters to their consciousness and past. The lack of a chapter division in the novel also creates a continuous flow of psychological time. Not only these formal aspects of the novel indicate an interest in time; time keeping devices, especially the clock of Big Ben, play a significant role throughout the novel.
Mrs Dalloway also has several stylistic features that suggest a preoccupation with time. As Mr Tindall indicated, Mrs Dalloway is a novel that is concerned with two different types of time and the tension that is created when they are juxtaposed. Mrs Dalloway — Super Connected. Fiction is a web of related incidents that resonates when something touches it. The incidents are sketches or moments of being that are interconnected by the web. When the web is touched it is felt in the entire construction.
It represents how moments are connected. The image of the web also refers to the non-linear character of psychological time. With her fiction she aimed at finding unity through interconnecting events and characters. Woolf carefully constructs a web-like structure for Mrs Dalloway. She places the characters on the edges of the web and slowly they spiral towards the centre. The characters in Mrs Dalloway are introduced in the web when Clarissa Dalloway thinks of them.
The reader is not further introduced to Peter Walsh in this section. No further reference is made to whom Elizabeth is or what role she will play in the novel. As the novel progresses the reader learns more about the characters and several characters interact. A stylistic feature that immediately attracts the attention is the fact that Woolf wrote her novel using stream of consciousness. Another device present in Mrs Dalloway is what Woolf herself referred to as tunnelling. Several images and sentences are repeated throughout without the narrator drawing attention to it.
The Liquid Mind. One of the techniques Woolf and other Modernist authors use to explore psychological time is stream of consciousness. Woolf, Joyce and Proust are often mentioned together as the main representatives of Modernist authors who use stream of consciousness as a technique in their work. Stream of consciousness is a term that covers a broad range of different techniques.
Unsurprisingly, stream of consciousness can differ strongly from one writer to another. Ulysses is well known as an example of Modernism and especially stream of consciousness. But it is possible to press a little further and wonder whether we may not refer our sense of being in a bright yet narrow room, confined and shut in, rather than enlarged and set free, to some limitation imposed by the method as well as by the mind. Modern Fiction 6. In Ulysses the reader is granted access to the mind of Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus or Molly Bloom, but the stream of consciousness of one character does not relate to that of another character.
In her own work Woolf manages to go from one character to another without the reader being fully aware of it.
Toward Virginia Woolf
She uses stream of consciousness as a liquid that flows through her narrative and connects her characters. The stream of consciousness Woolf presents is a multiplicity of several characters, and at the same time it unites all the individuals into a stream of life or an ocean of consciousness. All her characters are connected through their individual thoughts.
To be having an awful scene — the poor girl looked absolutely desperate — in the middle of the morning. Narrator mediation is present in the stream of consciousness of every character. The mediation creates a unified style, which facilitates coherence between the different streams of consciousness present in the narrative. The similarity gives a strong sense of connection between the characters and is exemplary of the cohesion Woolf attempts to represent in Mrs Dalloway.
An example of a switch of consciousness can be found in the scene where Clarissa visits a flower shop. During the scene the stream of consciousness briefly switches from Clarissa to Miss Pym, the salesperson:. 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.
MD Shifts similar to this one occur many times in the novel. This results in a sense of coherence and the stream of consciousness turns into a multiplicity, perhaps even a stream of life, as the consciousness of several characters are merged. The Caves of the Mind.
Woolf digs into the past of her characters and lets the tunnels she has created connect at specific moments in the narrative through for example imagery or echoing of thoughts. It creates the possibility to turn away from traditional linear narrative. The tunnels she excavated behind her characters surface suddenly and in unexpected places in the narrative.
The surfacing of events takes place through recollections. The characters in Mrs Dalloway are almost involuntary triggered into remembering events from the past by stimuli they receive in the present. Her characters are then revealed to the reader as split beings that are living in the past and present. In her essay Street Haunting: A London Adventure , Woolf addresses the issue of recollection and the temporal discrepancies it causes:. But what could be more absurd?
How, then, are we also on a balcony, wearing pearls in June? What could be more absurd? When she set about her chief masterpiece, the making of man, she should have thought of one thing only. Instead, turning her head, looking over her shoulder, into each one of us she let creep instincts and desires which are utterly at variance with his main being, so that we are streaked, variegated, all of a mixture; the colours have run. Is the true self this which stands on the pavement in January, or that which bends over the balcony in June?
Apparently the character walking down the Strand in this excerpt encounters something that makes her remember a moment in June. She is walking down the Strand and she is also on a balcony in June. Woolf then wonders which of the two images of the character is the true self, the image of the past or the image of the present. Sue Asbee continues by describing this coexistence as a character being aware with one part of the mind of the present moment while Big Ben strikes, whereas the other part of the mind has gone back in time and superimposes itself on the present.
Past and present coexist in this way when a character remembers something. These moments of memory show a part of the characters in Mrs Dalloway that is perceived as equally real The moment where the past superimposes itself on the present is a moment where psychological time takes over from clock time. The distinction between past and present becomes unclear. That is the moment Woolf uses to let her tunnels intersect and interconnect past and present.
As Hermione Lee describes what happens to Clarissa on her walk through London:. She perceives, thinks, remembers and generalizes, and in doing so she suffuses her present experience with the feelings and experiences of thirty years ago. In Mrs Dalloway , these moments of interconnectedness happen to Clarissa when she recalls an event at Bourton, as she does in the opening scene of the novel. Clarissa feels as she did that morning at Bourton, thirty years ago; her past self superimposes itself on her present self and they are briefly united in the person Clarissa is at that present moment.
Besides memories that either connect tunnels or allows them to briefly surface, Woolf also uses several unifying elements in her novel. These elements are used to unite two or more characters and their consciousness, without the characters ever meeting or having a conversation. The characters and their tunnels are connected through their shared experience. The backfiring car functions as a device to switch from Clarissa Dalloway to Septimus Smith, a war veteran suffering from shellshock. The reader then encounters Septimus Smith, who is standing still on the pavement of Bond Street:.
The violent explosion which made Mrs. Passers-by who, of course, stopped and stared, had just time to see a face of the very greatest importance against the dove-grey upholstery… Septimus Warren Smith … found himself unable to pass. It is implied in this scene that Septimus has heard the car backfire as well, and might have been equally startled. Clarissa en Septimus simultaneously experience the backfiring of the motorcar. Woolf represents the simultaneous experience by alternating between the perceptions of the different characters involved in the event and in doing so briefly connects the lives of the characters.
Hall of Mirrors. Repetition is another device Woolf uses in Mrs Dalloway in order to strengthen the connections between her characters. Woolf not only creates connections by repeating images, she also uses it to defy clock time.
By using repetition the rules of clock time are denied, and psychological time is emphasized. Repetition adds to the sense of coherence in Mrs Dalloway , because it directly connects characters and it redirects readers to the first occurrence of the repeated image or phrase. A repetitive narrative defies linearity. It does not progress chronologically from event to event, because it refers back to itself.
The narrative becomes circular and has a strong internal coherence. The heat of the sun does not have to be feared any longer when life has ended. Death forms the inevitable end. Death is the moment when clock time has run out. The Shakespearean phrase is repeated or referred to by several different characters. Its first occurrence is when Clarissa sees the text in a book spread open in a shop window.
Clarissa either thinks or speaks the phrase at least three more times throughout the novel page 32, 43 and The fact that both characters think about the same line of poetry indicates that they are connected. Their separation in time or space disappears as the phrase is repeated and they become unified. Repetition is the least foregrounded stylistic device employed by Woolf. The Clock Strikes Six. One of the most important images in Mrs Dalloway is Big Ben, and not surprisingly it has several different functions within the novel.
The time indication suggests a new episode. Peter Childs argues that Woolf uses the striking of Big Ben to contrasts private with public time, which is essentially the same divide as psychological and clock time. Childs gives an example with which he illustrates the contrast between the public and the private. The thoughts of the character take place in psychological time. The discrepancy between clock time and psychological time not only exists in the mind, but can also be created in relation to clock time.
In the example taken from Mrs Dalloway , Woolf creates an experience of psychological time that lasts longer than the actual experience in clock time. Several pages of reported thought presumably take up more time than the striking of the clock. The discrepancy between in the inner and the outer registration of time exists in reality and is illustrated by temporal disjunctions in the novel. The time that elapses in the narrative indicated by the striking of Big Ben and other clocks and the distances covered by the characters do not add up.
The landmarks both Peter and Clarissa encounter during their walks are described in the book. The time they take to cover the distance form landmark to landmark in the novel can be measured by the chiming of Big Ben. The time it would take somebody to cover the same distance in reality is quite different. The chiming of Big Ben forms an intrusion into the thoughts and the lives of the characters, as they are reminded of reality. Anna Benjamin indicates why Virginia Woolf uses clock time:. When time is stated exactly by Woolf, it is 1 to indicate the simultaneity of certain acts; 2 to provide a transition from one character to another; 3 to provide a transition from the present to past; 4 to suggest the fact that characters are bound together by time.
Big Ben and several other clocks are used to explicitly state the time. These moments that are exemplary of clock time function as a reminder of a temporal reality that connects all characters in the novel and pulls the novel together within its temporal structure of a single day. Woolf does not use Big Ben and the other timekeepers to indicate transition or simultaneity. Big Ben is an image that repeatedly reminds the characters, and the reader alike, that reality keeps running according to clock time. Concluding Mrs Dalloway. The techniques Woolf uses create an otherworldly realm that exists in psychological time.
This plane is contrasted with the reality of clock time. Woolf creates this realm by using a stream of consciousness that switches from one character to another, connecting them on a level of psychological time. The tunnels create the possibility for Woolf to integrate the past in the narrative, resulting in an almost parallel realm of past coexisting with the present. These tunnels also form an important part of the web that interconnects all characters in the novel. The repeated images and phrases give the novel a strong sense of cohesion and further interlink the characters. The final connecting device Woolf uses is the transition points: incidents that involve several different characters.
Virginia Woolf has made use of many different techniques in her novel Mrs Dalloway that disrupt linear time and create a sense of cohesion in the fragmented reality of the early twentieth century. These aspects of Mrs Dalloway , together with the preoccupation with time already suggested by the formal characteristics of the novel, create a novel in which the Modernist interest in the human consciousness and the psychological experience of time is clearly illustrated. Psychological Time and The Hours. The Hours.
By choosing The Hours as the title for his novel, Michael Cunningham makes a bold statement. It is difficult to pin down how the connection between The Hours and Mrs Dalloway is constructed. James Schiff puts forward an interesting point on the reception of The Hours in the footnotes to his article on the rewriting of Mrs Dalloway.
Earlier in his article Schiff explains:. In Mrs Dalloway we are plunged into the narrative without knowledge of where we are, what exactly is happening, or who the characters are. In The Hours , there is not the same degree of ambiguity or confusion. He has carefully chosen elements from Mrs Dalloway and inserted them into his narrative. Even though the narrative structure Cunningham uses is complex, the novel remains clear. He has adopted several techniques Woolf uses in Mrs Dalloway.
By adopting her techniques and using Mrs Dalloway as an inspiration Cunningham represents psychological time and the sense of connectedness that is typical of Mrs Dalloway. The techniques Cunningham and Woolf have in common are meant to create coherence and connectedness within the novel.
Both authors represent the inner experience of the characters, in both novels the relationship between the past and the present plays an important part, and both use pivotal images that function as transition points in the narrative. Although Mrs Dalloway and The Hours share several characteristics on a structural and stylistic level, their relationship is more than one of original and copy. Cunningham acknowledges Mrs Dalloway as his source in several different ways.
He gives Mrs Dalloway a role as one of the connecting elements in The Hours and uses it to defy linearity and create a circular narrative. It reproduces large excerpts taken literally from Mrs Dalloway as Laura Brown is reading them. The second clear demonstration of the presence of Mrs Dalloway is the character Clarissa Vaughan. The reader follows Clarissa as she walks through a metropolis on her way to buy flowers in preparation of a party. This description can be applied to both Mrs Dalloway and The Hours.
The third narrative strand is formed by the episode titled Mrs Woolf. The protagonist in this part of the narrative is the author Virginia Woolf. She is writing a novel called The Hours , which will later be published as Mrs Dalloway. Cunningham manages to go full circle by introducing an authorial figure in the character of Richard Worthington Brown. Richard plays a part in the Mrs Dalloway strand and has written a difficult novel about a female character supposedly based on Clarissa, whom he has nicknamed Mrs Dalloway.
The structure of the novel is similar to Mrs Dalloway to the extent that all three narrative threads span one single day. The main difference between the novels is that the characters in The Hours are separated by time and space, whereas all the character in Mrs Dalloway are in the same city on the same day. Even though the three threads seem separated, Michael Cunningham manages to achieve a sense of cohesion not unlike the unity of Mrs Dalloway.
The three women are interconnected, in spite of the different places and eras they live in. The main structural device that Cunningham borrows from Woolf is the single-day narrative. Cunningham is fascinated by this concept. Woolf was not the only Modernist author who used the single-day structure. A single day as the temporal structure of a novel compels the author to focus on the consciousness of the characters.
This focus results in the representation of thought and internal experience by using the stream-of-consciousness technique. Stream of consciousness is one of the most important techniques used by Modernists, as has been illustrated in the previous chapter. As was pointed out in the previous chapter, Woolf is considered one of the main representatives of stream of consciousness writers. When writing an improvisation on Mrs Dalloway , an author cannot deny the importance of stream of consciousness. Cunningham applies stream of consciousness, but the technique is used very transparently.
Her feet the shoes are gone strike the bottom occasionally, and when they do they summon up a sluggish cloud of muck, filled with the black silhouettes of leaf skeletons, that stands all but stationary in the water after she has passed along out of sight.
The Literary Encyclopedia Online uses a similar image to describe how Woolf uses stream of consciousness in Mrs Dalloway :. It is as if certain strong ideas lurk on the floor of the mind, and then rise up temporarily and come to the surface of the mind in the form of an image before sinking back down again into the depths and darkness of the unconscious. By using this technique Woolf allows thoughts to rise up through the stream of consciousness and lets them briefly touch the surface of the present.
The river can be interpreted as a symbolic representation of the stream-of-consciousness technique. Images from the world outside the river filter through the water and are described as if they influence Mrs. The passage is written as if it is Mrs. Woolf who notices the colour of the water, the reflections on the surface and the weed catching in her hair. Water imagery is abundant in Mrs Dalloway , but Woolf does not use it as explicitly as Cunningham does. Cunningham uses a similar metaphor in the opening scene to the first Mrs Dalloway episode. Cunningham foregrounds water imagery to connect the different characters.
The apartment has, more that anything, an underwater aspect. Clarissa walks through it as she would negotiate the hold of a sunken ship. It would not be entirely surprising if a small school of silver fish darted by in the half-light. She feels as if she has passed through a dimensional warp — through the looking glass, as it were; as if the lobby, the stairwell, and hallway exist in another realm altogether; another time. The Hours Earlier Laura Brown experienced a similar feeling of changing from one realm into another.
She is taken by a wave of feeling, a sea-swell, that rises from under her breast and buoys her, floats her gently, as if she were a sea creature thrown back from the sand where it had beached itself — as if she had been returned from a realm of crushing gravity to her true medium, the suck and swell of saltwater, that weightless brilliance.
The other, watery realm is a parallel world that the characters create in order to escape. The parallel world is located on the plane of psychological time, and the characters escape through memories or other distortions of clock time. Unlike Woolf, Cunningham has chosen to use repeated images to connect the characters and their emotional experience, instead of connecting the streams of consciousness directly like Woolf does.
This network of tunnels enables the author to let the past and the present of a character merge, at the exact moment when an event from the past is most relevant to the present situation. The past superimposes itself on the present and the distinction between the character in the past and the character in the present is briefly blurred. They are very much connected to the present instead of the past. The similarities between the consciousness of the three women in The Hours is striking and gives the impression that all three stories are layered on top of each other.
When she looks in the medicine-cabinet mirror, she briefly imagines that someone is standing behind her. There is no one, of course; it is just a trick of the light. For an instant, no more than that, she has imagined some sort of ghost self, a second version of her, standing immediately behind, watching. This occurs moments before she contemplates how easy it would be to commit suicide. Suicide is a theme that is foreshadowed by the death of Virginia Woolf in the prologue. The moment Mrs Brown thinks she sees a ghost self in the mirror of the medicine cabinet is a moment that connects all three stories, thus superimposing the past and the future on the present.
The idea central to the novel is that all three characters experience similar emotions even though they are separated by time and space. Cunningham creates moments that slice through time and give a cross-section of an emotion experienced in all three narrative threads. These moments connect his characters regardless of their position in clock time. The Clock Strikes Thirteen. The representation of clock time in The Hours differs from Mrs Dalloway , which is organised by the striking of Big Ben.
Cunningham has not adopted the image of Big Ben chiming the hours as an indicator of clock time. On several occasions in Mrs Dalloway Woolf explicitly states the time. Clock time functions as a reminder of a plane of reality and the relentless progress of time and is an important connector in her novel.