Essay about Night and Day by Virginia Woolf

Essay about Night and Day by Virginia Woolf

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This scene takes place in Katherine Hilbery’s house. It is situated at the moment when neither Ralph nor Katharine were sure of what they felt for each other. In this extract, it is clearly seen that Ralph is lost in his thoughts mostly because of the different feelings he has for Katharine. He cannot make the difference between reality and what he believes is reality. Therefore, by proceeding to a deep analysis of what is happening in Ralph’s head, Virginia Woolf, being the omniscient narrator, shows us the trouble and lost Katharine Hilbery has created into Denham’s mind. To express her ideas, she uses multiple stylistic features which contribute in adding a certain consistence to the themes she wants to highlight. Subsequently, two themes may be identified in that extract which are the inability to distinguish the real from the intangible and Ralph’s unconscious infatuation with Katharine.
First, on the second to third line, Virginia Woolf describes the first symptoms which show Denham’s incapability to separate reality from imagination. “His eyes were bright…he scarcely knew whether they beheld dreams or reality”. This personification of the eyes, as if it was the eyes only were the observers of the reality and dreams and not the human, shows Ralph confusion about the world he is living in. It seems like he is trapped at the frontier of two different dimensions where the realities in each of them are mixed together to create the absurdity he was seeing at that moment. His imagination and his world being the same entity in his head, he could not think nor act at that precise moment. We can also detect a lexical field of hallucination with the words “dreams”, “phantom”, “unreal” and “depth of mind” which enforce the idea tha...


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...page 150 “he…thought her more beautiful and strange than his dream of her” and line 7 “ she overflowed the edges of the dream; he remarked that her softness was like that of some vast snowy owl”. This succession of praising similes towards Katharine proves that his fascination for her knows no limit. Virginia Woolf thus shows here the evolution of Ralph’s feelings toward Katharine, from despise to infatuation and maybe at the end to love.
So after the analysis of this text, we can deduce first that Ralph Denham is a very difficult character to define as he represents complexity by himself with his emotions mixed up together. The author maybe presented him like this to preserve a kind of mysterious atmosphere in the book. What is sure now is that he somewhat developed a kind of craze for Katharine and the romance between those two can certainly end in their favor.


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