Examples Of Modernism In Mrs Dalloway

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Modernist Style in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway
The period of modernism, and the new way of thinking and writing it brought, was hugely influenced by the changes in society occurring in the Western world at the beginning of the 19th century. World War I awakened the topic of the meaning of life and death, and together with the modernizing industrial societies and growing cities, altered people’s view of the world. During this period, writers responded to the change in the perception of the world and thus shifted their focus of writing from social issues to the experience and consciousness of an individual. At the turn of the century, reality was getting situated within the inner, subjective consciousness of people’s individual selves, as though
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There are two temporal areas in which Woolf’s characters exist; the chronological time which is common and identical to everyone and cannot be stopped, and the subjective, inner time of one’s consciousness, which is perceived individually by each individual’s thoughts, memories and experiences from the past. The flow of thoughts, or the “stream of consciousness” takes place in the character’s inner time and includes both past memories originating from a present situation as well as a possible future action which is related to the previous ones. Both of these temporal lines are important, though Mrs Dalloway is more concerned with the inner time and the stream of consciousness. To Virginia Woolf, time, existence, and the human mind psyche are interconnecting and must therefore be dealt with from the inside of her characters. The chronological time, though still exists throughout the novel as a timeframe for the reader, and the characters are constantly being reminded of it. Virginia Woolf seems to have been influenced by Henri Bergson’s views on time. In Mrs Dalloway, time is also being perceived as a continuous flux, in which the past, the present, and the future are connected. Moreover, by exposing some seemingly insignificant details and revealing personal views and memories of secondary characters, Woolf is able to depict the whole life story of Clarissa Dalloway, through the span of just one day. The style of the text in the novel, which connects words and fragments together with a number of dashes, colons and semicolons, represents the complexity of Clarissa’s mind; with the use of the “stream of consciousness” technique and playing around with time and memories, Woolf manages to depict all the important moments in the life of Clarissa
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