The Importance of Time in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs.Dalloway

4313 Words18 Pages
Modern English novel

"The importance of time in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs.Dalloway"

As human beings, we are unique in our awareness of death. “We know that we will die, and that knowledge invades our consciousness…it will not let us rest until we have found ways, through rituals and stories, theologies and philosophies, either to make sense of death, or, failing that, to make sense of ourselves in the face of death.”
Attaching significance to life events is a human reaction to the sense of “meaninglessness” in the world. Fearing our ultimate annihilation, we form belief systems to reassure us in the face of death.
Religion provides us with elaborate rituals at times of death and faith assists believers in mourning and coping with
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Dalloway (Woolf, 1996) in 1925, the modernist writer and critic Virginia Woolf released one of her most celebrated novels upon the literary world. Examining ‘an ordinary mind on an ordinary day’ (Woolf, 1948, p 189) Woolf explores the fragmentary self through ‘streams of consciousness’, whereby interior monologues are used to tell the story through the minds of the principal characters. Told through the medium of omniscient narration, this story about two people who never meet has no resolution and the characters remain where they started, locked in their own heads, in a constant state of flux.
As a contemporary study of post-war Britain, however, Mrs Dalloway mirrors the fragmentation that was taking place within her own culture and society, and provides a “delicate rendering of those aspects of consciousness in which she felt that the truth of human experience really lay.”
A number of themes and motifs are explored, but this essay will consider the representation of time within the novel. For Woolf, time is a device with which she not only sets the pace of the novel, but with which she also controls her characters, setting and plot. It is also used to question ‘reality’ and the effect of that on the individual characters within the story as they journey through their day. As these different modes are uncovered, psychological time will be revealed and its impact on the main characters of Clarissa Dalloway and Septimus Warren Smith will be

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