Virginia Woolf is not unlike any other truly good artist: her writing is vague, her expression can be inhibited, and much of her work is up to interpretation from the spectator. Jacob’s Room is one of her novels that can be hard to digest, but this is where the beauty of the story can be found. It is not written in the blatant style of the authors before her chose and even writers today mimic, but rather Jacob’s Room appears more like a written painting than a book. It is as if Woolf appeared tired and bored of the black and white style of writing that dominated her culture and chose to use a paintbrush to write her story. This individualistic technique is essential to how Woolf creates a portrait of Jacob, the title character of the novel. The portrait the reader gets of Jacob is entirely questionable throughout the entire story, just like any understanding of a human in life is more about opinion than fact. This is how Woolf captures life, the reader’s view of Jacob is almost completely based on interpretations from other characters. These various assessments of Jacob form together to make the collective portrait of Jacob. Woolf states that “Multiplicity becomes unity, which somehow the secret of life” (147), the secret of the novel as well.
The impressions of Jacob are from many different types of characters in the book. There are random people that we don’t even get the name of, Jacob’s own mother, those that love Jacob and even those whom Jacob love. All these impressions are woven on a common thread, that all human being’s have a need to break isolation and cherish attention, love and concreteness.
Jacob’s mother, Betty Flanders, sets up her portrait of Jacob as a son that she has lost. Betty Fland...
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...s less a true depiction of Jacob himself, but rather the people that tried to interpret him. Jacob's Room is not finally about Jacob, but about the world that forms him. Trying to understand Jacob is task that is just as difficult as finding a place for his empty shoes, at best those who felt closest to Jacob were just observers of his life, “observer(s)...choked with observations” (75). The portrait of Jacob created from the novel is less a portrait and more like a “cavern of mystery, endowing Jacob Flanders with all sorts of qualities he had not at all” (80). Our portrait of Jacob is painted to us by Virginia Woolf about the dubiety, skepticism and wonder over true human existence and if it is at all possible to achievew it. Jacob’s own room is exactly that, something so real and physical that is at the same time departed and lifeless.
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