Clarissa Dalloway - A Modernist Conceived Character
Modernism in European literature developed highly between the 1900 and 1920 although its beginning is often associated with Virginia Woolf’s statement that human nature went through a fundamental change "on or about December 1910."(Woolf, 1966: 319). Modernism is generally characterized by a brake with the traditional writing, a desire for experimental literary form and a way of expressing “the new sensibilities of their time” (Childs, 2008: 4).
According to the sociologist Georg Simmel the modernist writers were preoccupied with creating strong individualities able to deal with new problems of life: “The deepest problems of modern life derive from the claim of the individual to …show more content…
She tries to understand the behaviour and life of other people, people she admires and she is tempted to imagine herself a complete different person” Oh, if she could have had her life over again! She thought stepping on to the pavement” (Woolf, 2015:10). She sees herself in the present and feels her identity disintegrating; she becomes an anonymous in society, as “She had the oddest sense of being herself invisible; unseen; unknown; …this being Mrs Dalloway; not even Clarissa anymore; this being Mrs Richard Dalloway” (Woolf, 2015:10), which seems to give her a chance to reflect on the places and things as they used to be and as they …show more content…
“Mrs Dalloway”; The University of Adelaide, 2015. Available at: ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/w/woolf/virginia/w91md/. Accessed on 16 08 2017
Childs, Peter. “Modernism”, Introduction: Plunging In, p. 4. 2008. Available at: worldcat.org/title/modernism/oclc/264512078/viewport. Accessed on 31st July 2017
Forward, Stephanie. “An Introduction to Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway”, Losing the plot, The Open University, p.6-7.2005. Available at: open.edu/openlearn/sites/www.open.edu.openlearn/files/an_introduction_to_virginia_woolfs_mrs_dalloway.pdf Accessed on 31st July 2017
Garvey, X.K. Johanna. Difference and Continuity: The Voices of Mrs Dalloway, Fairfield University Publication, College English, vol.53, No.1 (January, 1991), p.59
Parsons, Deborah. “Theorists of the Modernist Novel: James Joyce, Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf”, Rutledge Critical Thinkers, London and New York, 2007, p 5-11
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Simmel, Georg. “The Metropolis of the Modern Life in Levine” Donald (ed.) 'Simmel: On Individuality and Social Forms, Chicago University Press, p.324. 1971. Available at: press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/G/bo3622859.html. Accessed on 19 August
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In Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway, readers follow many character’s train of consciences. One of the main characters is Mrs. Dalloway (also referred to as Clarissa), readers learn that she is as normal as any other person. She has insecurities, she can be bitter and uptight, she runs errands to get ready for a party she is having, Clarissa stops and smells the roses (figuratively and literally). Mrs. Dalloway has her faults as any other person but she also has her quirks and liveliness as any other person does as well.
Though the start of the modernisation may trace back to the beginning of Industrial Revolution. “Modernism in the design world did not exist in a fully developed form, until well after First World War.” (Wilk, 2006) Causing the great loss of lives and other countless damage to the world, it reshaped many people’s way of thinking the world. With the inspiration of early avant-garde movement, the modernism began to emerge advocating an utopian future and shared certain core principles by various styles of modernists: rejecting the past and applied ornament; forms follow function, a preference for
Moreover, the fluidity, represented by the thoughts of the characters, is enhanced by the form of the novel: Mrs Dalloway is not divided into chapters; thus, it does not leave behind a sense of completeness. It is largely intertwined with the narration of Clarissa and that of the other characters and the action largely takes place in the mind. This is presented in form of free indirect discourse: the narrative conveys the thoughts of the selected character. This leaves the readers with an impressionistic story. To demonstrate how different characters bring about unequal messages, here is an illustration from the work: when Clarissa is strolling the streets of London, she and Septimus both see the same car. The vehicle leads them to different thoughts: for Septimus it is seeing in it the power of the modern world, which “was about to burst into flames” (13) or rather the oppressive relationship of technology and war, which ultimately leads to his suicide. He is bound by the internal, his suffering thoughts cannot help but to be captured in the memories of the World War I he fought in. For Clarissa, hearing the noise of the car provokes her to think she has heard “a pistol shot in the street” (12) (which later turns out to be true). By using such a form of representation, Woolf points to the invisible connections of people in a dehumanised, yet technology-bound, world, which create between them a form of interaction that serves as compensation for what Septimus (and
The 1920s exist in the popular imagination as a time of freedom and wild energy, a time where social mores were discarded and independance embraced. This perception hardly fits with the reality. As with most eras the 1920s had a multitude of conventions and taboos. As with most eras, those who broke with such things were frowned upon. While parts of society were changing, conformity was still very much valued, as explored in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Through the character of Clarissa Dalloway and her parallel found in Septimus Smith, Woolf portrays oppressive conformity and the inner self it hides, especially as related to queerness and compulsory heterosexuality; all this serves to illuminate the themes of conventionality and conversion
‘Mrs. Dalloway’, by Virginia Woolf is a derivative text of ‘The Hours’, written by Michael Cunningham. The novels both share an important theme of mental health. The circumstances of mental health are commonly sympathetic, and empathetic. The characters Septimus and Clarissa in ‘Mrs. Dalloway’ and Richard, Laura Brown, and Virginia Woolf in ‘The Hours’ show the strongest symbols for this theme. Most of the problems and treatments these characters face are in direct result of the age they live in. Both novels express a relationship between era, illnesses and treatments.
Throughout her life, novelist Virginia Woolf suffered with mental illness, and she ultimately ended her life at age 59. As art often imitates life, it is not surprising that characters in Woolf’s works also struggle with mental illness. One of her novels, Mrs. Dalloway, recounts a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway, a high society woman living in London, and those who run in her circle. As the novel progresses the reader sees one of the characters, Septimus, struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder brought on by serving in war. At the end of the story, he commits suicide. While there is no explicit articulation of any other character suffering from mental illness in the novel, Septimus is not alone. Through her thoughts and actions, we can deduce that Clarissa also endures mental and emotional suffering. Though Clarissa does not actually attempt to end her life in the novel, her mental and emotional suffering lead her to exhibit suicidal tendencies. To prove this, I will examine Clarissa’s thoughts and actions from a psychological perspective.
Modernism is the heartbeat of culture, or as Clement Greenberg (1992:754) states, modernism involves of what “is truly alive in our culture” and it includes more than just art and literature. Western civilization began to interrogate their foundations and progressed into a self-critical society (Greenberg 1992:754). This notion began with the theories of the philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804); he criticized the means itself of criticism (Greenberg 1992:754). Therefore, Greenberg (1992:754) perceived Kant as the first real Modernist.
In the novel Mrs Dalloway, Woolf conveys her perspective, as she finely examines and critiques the traditional gender roles of women in a changing post-war society. Woolf characterisation of Clarissa Dalloway in a non linear structure, presents a critical portrayal of the existing class structure through modernist’s eyes. Titling her novel as Mrs Dalloway presents Clarissa’s marriage as a central focus of her life, drawing attention to how a women’s identity is defined by marriage. Despite the changing role of women throughout the 1920s, for married women life was the same post war. Clarissa experiences ‘the oddest sense of being herself invisible…that is being Mrs Dalloway…this being Richard Dalloway,”
The term Modernism, which refers to a literary movement must not be confused with Modern which refers to “being ahead of ones time or being ahead of ones contemporaries”
Throughout Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf uses the characters Clarissa and Lucrezia not only to further the plot of the story but to make a profound statement about the role of wives in both society and their marriages. While these women are subjected to differing experiences in their marriages, there is one common thread that unites each of their marriages: oppression. These women drive the story of Mrs. Dalloway and provide meaning and reason in the lives of the men in the story; however, these women are slowly but surely forced to forsake their own ambitions in order to act in accordance with the social standards set in place by marriage for women. For women outside of many modern cultures, marriage has been a necessity for a woman’s safety and security, and it required her to give up her freedom and passions and subjected her to an oppressed lifestyle. Ultimately, through the wives in Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf communicates that marriage is an institution where in women are forced to suppress their individual desires and passions in order to serve their husband and further his own ambitions as first priority.
Clarissa Dalloway, the central character in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, is a complex figure whose relations with other women reveal as much about her personality as do her own musings. By focusing at length on several characters, all of whom are in some way connected to Clarissa, Woolf expertly portrays the ways females interact: sometimes drawing upon one another for things which they cannot get from men; other times, turning on each other out of jealousy and insecurity.
What further contributed to the rise of modernism was the First World War, which shell-shocked many. People lost their sense of certainty and it made them change their points of views. It made modernists question civilisation. This is seen in T.S Eliot’s poem “The Wasteland” which questions
In the book Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf wanted to cast the social system and bash it for how it worked. Her intricate focus is focusing not on the people, but on the morals of a certain class at a certain historical moment.