Comparing Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

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Comparing Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights

Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights share similarities in many aspects, perhaps most plainly seen in the plots: just as Clarissa marries Richard rather than Peter Walsh in order to secure a comfortable life for herself, Catherine chooses Edgar Linton over Heathcliff in an attempt to wrest both herself and Heathcliff from the squalid lifestyle of Wuthering Heights. However, these two novels also overlap in thematic elements in that both are concerned with the opposing forces of civilization or order and chaos or madness. The recurring image of the house is an important symbol used to illustrate both authors’ order versus chaos
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The first instance of window imagery is deceivingly small and easy to pass over, but upon reflection it creates a certain symmetry by subtly foreshadowing the final window scene. In the very opening section of the book, Clarissa’s departure from the house dredges up memories of her time at Bourton, of scenes with Peter Walsh that took place in front of an open window. This memory, brought about by the impact of the early morning air, also reminds her of the “solemn” feeling this incident gave her “standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen.” Though fleeting and lightly discussed, this emotion placed so close to the beginning of the novel seems to indicate the dangerous nature of an open window, which anticipates both Septimus’ death and Clarissa’s later musings in front of a window.

Another small but important window scene takes place after Clarissa returns home to discover that her husband has been invited to Millicent Bruton’s lunch party but she has not. After reading the message about the party on a notepad, she begins to retreat upstairs to her private room, “a single figure against the appalling night.” As she lingers before the “open staircase window,” she feels her own aging, “suddenly shriveled, aged, breastless… out of doors, out of the window, out of her body and brain which now failed…” Again, there is a hint of danger as death is portrayed as a somewhat alluring transcendental experience,

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