A Pursuit Of Perfection In Michael Cunningham's 'The Hours'

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Postmodern writers retell an original novel by integrating narrative fragmentation, intertextuality, imitation, and self-consciousness into their writing to create a unique novel that extends from an original. An example of an author who has implemented a postmodern form of writing is Michael Cunningham in his novel The Hours. Cunningham retells Woolf 's, Mrs. Dalloway by integrating characters, writing style, and themes from Mrs. Dalloway into that of The Hours. In so doing, Cunningham effectively illustrates a deeper understanding of how a pursuit of perfection leads to feelings of unhappiness and failure in life as demonstrated in the protagonists of Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours.
Mrs. Dalloway 's leading character is Clarissa Dalloway,
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From the introduction of her character, the reader learns that she is a depressed woman who is unhappy with her domestic life. As the novel unfolds and the character develops, it becomes apparent that much of the unhappiness in her life is due to her own desire to be the perfect mother and housewife. Today is her husband 's birthday and she decides to make a birthday cake with her son. Before she begins, she has high expectations of this cake and says to her son, " we 're going to make him the best cake he 's ever seen. The very best" (Cunningham 48). However, their first attempt at making a cake does not meet her expectations and she has feelings of failure as she explains to herself that, "it looks amateurish; handmade" (Cunningham 99). Although she knows her husband will love the cake, she herself does not and admits to herself that "her cake is a failure" (Cunningham 100). Consequently, Laura 's desire for perfection in baking the perfect cake is a representation of the failure she feels for her own life. She feels like a failure and the cake needs to be perfect to symbolize the happiness in her life. Without a perfect cake, the truth of unhappiness can be

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