The Theme of Mental Health Illustrated in Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway and Cunningham's The Hours

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‘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. The clearest illness was that of Septimus, in ‘Mrs. Dalloway’. Septimus suffered from shell-shock, a result of the First World War. This illness in turn brought about an …show more content…
On the other hand, the sinister Sir William Bradshaw wishes Septimus were in a ‘rest’ home and to undergo re-programming. Bradshaw’s awareness is especially revealing of the attitude of some doctors at the time:
‘Health we must have; and health is proportion; so that when a man comes into your room and says he is Christ… …and has a message… …and threatens… …to kill himself, you invoke proportion; order rest in bed; rest in solitude; silence and rest; rest without friends, without books; without messages; six months’ rest…’ (Page 110).
Woolf’s own experiences could be reflected off of those of Bradshaw’s thoughts. Woolf portrays doctors to be useless. The delusions of Septimus are shown through Woolf’s characteristic stream of consciousness style.
‘Once you fall, Septimus repeated to himself, human nature is on you. Holmes and Bradshaw are on you. They scour the desert. They fly screaming into the wilderness. The rack and the thumbscrew are applied. Human nature is remorseless.’ (Page 108).
Through this quote, the reader is able to see the way in which Septimus’ thoughts are portrayed. The thoughts of Septimus show him to be a helpless victim. When understanding the way Septimus is being treated by the doctor, the reader can not help but feel sympathy for him. Woolf’s use of stream of consciousness is that of cautiousness and delicacy. In ‘The Hours’ Richard, a gay poet dying of AIDS is Septimus’ mirror
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