Mrs. Dalloway, published in 1925, is a romantic drama with deep psychological approaching in to the world of urban English society in the summer of 1923, five years after the end of World War I.
The book begins in the morning with the arrangements for a party Clarissa Dalloway will give and it ends late in the evening when the guests are all leaving. There are many flashbacks to tell us the past of each character, but it does not leave the range of those few hours. It presents several stream-of-consciousness devices: indirect interior monologue, time and space montage, flashbacks and psychological free association based mainly on memory, with the support of imagination and the senses (mainly sight).
We can compare the book to a tapestry where there are two strings being weaved together, separated from the narrative:
- Clarissa's party and all day long of arrangements;
- The craziness and finally Septimus' suicide.
To abolish the distinction between dream and reality; the writer effects this by mixing images with gestures, thoughts with impressions, visions with pure sensations. The language is short and dense, she writes in a flow of consciousness, floating from the mind of one character to the next.
In Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf used the non-linear time. One can compare this with surfing on the Internet where we can jump from place to place in a non-linear pattern. Despite its apparent discontinuity, Mrs. Dalloway has a pattern provided by several factors: unity of character, unity of time (everything takes place in one day and is centered on Clarissa's party) and the leitmotif: the sound image of Big Ben followed by the sentence "the leaden circles dissolved in the air...
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...ill" Clarissa, instead she decided that the double of Clarissa constructed in the form of a man destroyed by war and society, would take his own life in order for the rest of Clarissa's being can appreciate the life she had. She also analyses other kinds of death besides physical extinction: death of a friendship, by change, and death of the mind, by absence of change.
We know more about Clarissa from the comments and thoughts made by others, by memories discovered, and by symbolic reference. The postmodern novel is a simulation of reflections, alternating narration, poetic allusion, direct prose, metaphor, dialogue, and character development. Like the hat Clarissa and her husband made together, plenty of layers of emotion, feeling, logic, character, and motivation create the design. The moment of creation is thus a culmination of life and significance in the novel.
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