Homosexuality, Suicide and Feminism in Cunningham's, The Hours

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Homosexuality, Suicide and Feminism in Cunningham's, The Hours

In "Man of The Hours", an interview published in People magazine, Michael Cunningham describes The Hours as "essentially an optimistic book that deals with the terrible things that happen to people"(105). More precisely, the book is about three women living in different eras and addresses several issues, among them homosexuality, suicide, and feminism.

Much Cunningham's portrayal of Virginia, who is working on her famous novel "Mrs. Dalloway" as the story opens, deals with her feelings about life in the suburbs, a life in which her husband dictates such small details of her everyday life as bedtime, how long she will be allowed to work, and even whether or not going
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Ultimately, afraid of another impending breakdown and denied the stimulation of her beloved London, she takes her own life.

Laura's self-image is that of an unpopular girl, a bookworm, and she seems amazed that her handsome husband, "had kissed, courted, and proposed to...the bookworm...who had never been sought after or cherished" (40). She marries him out of a sense of duty and because it is what women do in 1949, but finds marriage and motherhood smothering. She feels inept at the simplest chores, such as creating a birthday cake for her husband and caring for her three-year-old son, and prefers to spend her time reading. She has a difficult time separating the fantasy of "Mrs. Dalloway, which she is reading, and the reality of her life. She finds herself attracted to a neighbor woman and must also deal with feelings of guilt caused by that attraction. Pregnant, desperately unhappy, depressed, and unwilling to take her own life, she affects her escape by abandoning her husband and children.

Clarissa Vaughan lives in present-day New York and enjoys a less restricted existence. A book publisher in her early 50's, she is in a long-term, committed lesbian relationship, has a loving, if complex, relationship with her daughter, and is good friends with her college friend and former lover, Richard, a poet who is dying of AIDS and whose affectionate nickname for her is Mrs. Dalloway. Clarissa's life is
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