The Cultural Significance of The Hours Essays

The Cultural Significance of The Hours Essays

Length: 1909 words (5.5 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In his novel The Hours, Michael Cunningham creates a dazzling fabric of queer references while intertwining the lives of three different women into one smooth narrative. In this essay, I will discuss what makes The Hours into a piece of queer literature, how the novel has contributed to the genre, the cultural significance of the novel, and several points made in Jeanette McVicker’s critical article “Gaps and Absences in The Hours.” My aim, however, is not to create the illusion that Michael Cunningham’s The Hours is strictly a queer novel but to highlight what makes the novel queer and to discuss Cunningham’s idea of sexual orientation as a fluid entity.
Marilyn Farwell discusses what makes a lesbian narrative in her book Heterosexual Plots and Lesbian Narratives:
“Does the text have a political purpose? Can we identify the lesbianism of the authors and characters? What do these writers and characters say about lesbianism and more particularly their own lesbianism?” (Farwell 11)
Using Farwell’s breakdown as a guide, we can then determine what makes a novel like The Hours into a queer narrative.
In an interview with Steven Drukman, Cunningham discussed the political purpose of the novel:
“I originally imagined I would…try to use the AIDS epidemic very much the way Woolf used World War I – with this sense of a new culture rising up out of the ruins of the old.” (Drukman 62)
As an author, Cunningham dedicated much of his early writing to chronicling the experience of gay Americans in the age of AIDS, working closely with the gay activist group ACT UP several times. He was able to use his experiences as an activist to bring the characters in The Hours to life and to successfully substitute AIDS for World War I trench warfare a...

... middle of paper ... through that one and then, my god, there’s another. ” (Cunningham 197-198)
Additionally, they are also haunted by the voices of their past – eventually leading to both Septimus’ and Richard’s deaths. The parallelism between the two characters is impeccable, leading me to believe that if Richard is “emptied out of the world” as McVicker states, then Septimus must be as well.
By exploring the various queer references in The Hours, I have untangled some, but hardly all, of the allusions that Cunningham wove into his novel by adopting, and adapting, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway for his own purposes. He is able to transform the reader’s view of literature and of queer narratives by reviving an old work and giving it a modern spin – replacing World War I with AIDS and exploring the sexuality of Mrs. Woolf, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Dalloway through their respective eras.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Hours by Michael Cunningham Essay

- In his novel The Hours, Michael Cunningham creates a dazzling fabric of queer references managing to intertwine the lives of three different women into one smooth narrative. In this essay, I will discuss what makes The Hours queer literature, how the novel has contributed to the queer genre, the cultural significance of the novel, and I will discuss several points made in Jeanette McVicker’s critical article “Gaps and Absences in The Hours.” My aim, however, is not to say that Michael Cunningham’s The Hours is strictly a queer novel, but to highlight what makes the novel queer and to discuss Cunningham’s idea of sexual orientation as a fluid entity....   [tags: The Queer Genre]

Powerful Essays
1441 words (4.1 pages)

The Significance of Amazon Kindle on the Online Book Industry Essay

- This study is being undertaken to determine the significance of Amazon Kindle on American online book industry as a whole but mainly targeting its customers/clients i.e. American e-book publishers. Moreover, the success of every business/industry is highly linked with its customers who either relates with the business directly or indirectly but are still the business customers so in this regard customer acquisition, retention and satisfaction are extremely important points to be noted here. Moreover, some relevant factors such as customer relationship management, scanning the internal with external environment and evaluating the attractiveness of Kindle for its customers will also be the par...   [tags: Product Review]

Powerful Essays
844 words (2.4 pages)

Cultural Artifact Speech Outline

- Cultural Artifact Speech Outline I. Intro a. As Bob Marley once said, “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” Studies shown that classical music, specifically Mozart, help you engage in your studies better and as a result showed high test scores according to a test scientist at Stanford University held. Did you ever imagine how powerful a piece that was composed in the 1780’s could be. b. This is a classical music score of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, one of many who is widely popular in the world of classical music....   [tags: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven]

Powerful Essays
960 words (2.7 pages)

Islam as a Cultural Heritage in Hong Kong Essay

- Islam Culture Islam culture has not been very popular in Hong Kong. It has been always viewed by the public as an ethnic minorities’ religion and separated from our society. However, people have been ignoring the fact that this culture have established in Hong Kong for a long time. Back to the early 19th century, South Asian sailors and merchants were brought to Hong Kong by Europeans and they have started to promote this religion to people here (O'Connor, 2012).Since then, the Muslims have becoming part of our society and the Islam culture have been laying its roots under Hong Kong’s ground....   [tags: Ethnic Minorities Religion, Islam Culture]

Powerful Essays
882 words (2.5 pages)

Religion : A Cultural System Of Behaviors And Practices Essay

- Religion, the definition in WIKIpedia is “a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views, sacred texts, holy places, ethics, and societal organisation”(Geertz, 1993, n.p.). I actually do not like to this complex meaning but this is a very great describe what religion is. In short sentence, religion is “the belief in a god or in a group of gods”(Webster, n.d., n.p.). Even though the simple definition explains what religion is, there are still a lot of people do not know the underlying meaning of religion....   [tags: Religion, Indigenous peoples, Faith]

Powerful Essays
2019 words (5.8 pages)

Hawaiian Cultural Treasure: James Ho Essay

- Across the world, in every nation, are people who are considered to be cultural treasures. They cherish the land, the people, and tradition; but are humble and modest people. In Hawai‘i there are a handful of people that can even be considered of this prestige. James is one of these people. Due to his involvement with Hawaiian culture and history, and through his museum and his books, James is to be considered one of these cultural treasures. From the date of his birth, James has lived on the island of O‘ahu....   [tags: Hawaii, Prestigious People, Hawaiian Culture]

Powerful Essays
1208 words (3.5 pages)

Cultural Differences: Education in Japan Vs The USA Essay

- Culture: our internalized beliefs, values, and behaviors we learn to function as a member in society. Culture is everything we pick up on as we grow up, all the little things we never even notice that we do. It can be as apparent as the type of clothing you wear or as subtle as how you interact with others. There are many cultural differences between the United States and other societies around the world. Defined, society is a group of people with the same learned behavior, or culture. Every country, city, and even neighborhoods can have their own traditions and culture that is entirely different from one other....   [tags: Students, Teachers, Learning]

Powerful Essays
843 words (2.4 pages)

Chinese Traditions Cultural Values Of Children And Family Ties Essay

- The Chinese traditional values the father figure and sons to have a complete family. The figure 1 shows the huge role and value a father has in the family. The fatherhood is a famous tradition that has existed in Chinese tradition that gets passed from generation to generation (Lamb 228). The fatherhood tradition, has many prohibitions, for instance, the tradition prohibits a father seeking forgiveness to his sons among others. The father in Chinese traditions is the very noble person that should be above suspicion of committing errors it may offend the sons and the whole family....   [tags: Family, China, Song Dynasty, Overseas Chinese]

Powerful Essays
895 words (2.6 pages)

Cultural Anthropology Essay

- Cultural Anthropology Almost all cultures world wide have highly developed traditions of music and dance. According to Mari Womack, author of Being Human: An Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, music and dance carry much importance within a culture. "As do other artistic forms, music and dance reflect cultural and social organization. Cultural values can be conveyed in the words of a song, and the performance of a song or a dance is dependent on the social context" (Womack 226). Music and instruments are of great significance in many places world wide....   [tags: Marching Band Arts Music Dance Papers]

Powerful Essays
4364 words (12.5 pages)

Essay about The Hours

- The Hours The Hours is a novel that deals with the various cultural aspects of life. Michael Cunningham's writing reflects the various nuclear families, the different economic conditions, and the social issues involving the three women in the novel. The Hours begins with Virginia Woolf who is married to Leonard. They do not have any children of their own. Woolf lives in London in 1923 battling mental illness and struggling to write a book, Mrs. Dalloway. She struggled and finished the book according to Tony Peregrin "at the age of 43"....   [tags: Cunningham Hours Essays]

Free Essays
627 words (1.8 pages)