In Michael Cunningham's The Hours, Laura Brown, one of the novel's protagonists, is trapped by the responsibility of being a housewife and mother. Cunningham's story uses one of Virginia Woolf's works, Mrs. Dalloway, as a template to weave the lives of three women together in a narrative delicately split into three branching tales that echo each other. One branch of the story leads to a fictional account of Virginia Woolf creating the first draft of her famous novel. A second narrative in Cunningham's tale is that of Clarissa Vaughn - a woman whose life mirrors that of Woolf's fictional character Mrs. Dalloway. The final woman in the trio of Cunningham's leading protagonists is Laura Brown, a depressed housewife slowly being pushed to a breaking point by conforming to a life that a patriarchal society demands.
Laura Brown's story begins in June of 1949 on the birthday of her husband Dan, a returned war hero. Dan is a good hearted man, a friend of the family, and the first man to adore her and shower her with affection, so when he asked Laura to marry him, she thought "what could she say but yes" (40). The protagonist is initially wrapped up in the romanticism of her relationship with Dan. Their marriage begins as the role of housewife is slowly diminishing after the Second World War (Sullerot 80). Technological advancements and the returning of men to the workplace makes the lives of women more subjugated as they are confined to the more socially acceptable role of housewife. Laura does what a male dominated culture says is the right thing and marries a good man that is every woman's ideal, but she slowly realizes that she is not read...
... middle of paper ...
...n prisoner by mankind and thrown in the jail cell of her home. Laura is a chained by the world of male dominance and the inferiority that it bestows on women. She is guilty of crimes against her family and against herself. Laura cannot choose to live a life for her children and her husband because she would smother her spirit. The protagonist also cannot choose to live her life the way that she desires because it is a crime against the patriarchy. Accepting neither life, Laura leaves her husband and children, forgoing a room of her own to live not as a mother, a wife, or an artist, but as herself.
* Janeway, Elizabeth. Man's World, Woman's Place: A Study in Social Mythology. New York: Maple, 1971.
* Sullerot, Evelyne. Woman, Society, and Change. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1971.
* Woolf, Virginia. A Room of One's Own. New York: Harbinger, 1929.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- The men and women of "The Hours" view death as an escape from an ordinary lifestyle which lacks anything truly extraordinary or exhilarating. Laura Brown considers death as an alternative to the constraints of her role as a mother and a wife. Both Richard Brown and Virginia Woolf ultimately commit suicide in order to escape their illnesses and their failures to live up to society's expectations. Though Laura does not end her life, she does die symbolically to her family. Over the period of a day, Laura Brown gradually succumbs to her overwhelming desire to liberate herself from her mundane life.... [tags: Cunningham Hours]
979 words (2.8 pages)
- 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]
1441 words (4.1 pages)
- An Abstract View of Death in Mrs.Dalloway and The Hours Works Cited Missing In Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours contradictory and almost altered views of death are presented. Virginia Woolf and Michael Cunningham portray death as escape for some, but an entrapment for others. It is no longer treated as a subject to worry about or fear, which society now views it as. A line from Shakespeare's Cymbeline, "Fear no more the heat o' the sun / Nor the furious winter rages," sums up what the authors of Mrs.... [tags: Virginia Woolf Michael Cunningham]
1675 words (4.8 pages)
- In Michael Cunningham’s The Hours Virginia Woolf, Laura Brown and Clarissa Dalloway’s lives have a common undertone. In each story the three women are forced to confront one of society’s most controversial topics: mental illness. Mental illness is such a controversial topic mainly in part from fear. Many people in today’s society fear the unknown, they fear that in which they do not fully understand; mental illnesses such as depression and schizophrenia. Michael Cunningham shows a different side of mental illnesses using Virginia, Laura and Clarissa to convey his message: Mental illness is something that is not a one dimensional kind of issue.... [tags: Mental Illness, Literature]
1446 words (4.1 pages)
- 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.... [tags: Homosexual Literature]
1909 words (5.5 pages)
- Homosexuality, Suicide and Feminism in Cunningham's, The Hours In "Man of The Hours", an interview published in People magazine, Michael Cunningham describes The Hours as "essentially an optimistic book that deals with the terrible things that happen to people"(105). More precisely, the book is about three women living in different eras and addresses several issues, among them homosexuality, suicide, and feminism. Much Cunningham's portrayal of Virginia, who is working on her famous novel "Mrs.... [tags: Cunningham Hours Essays]
617 words (1.8 pages)
- While writing a fiction novel, I would think that the writer would have to dig deep into their mind and into their heart in order for them to convey realistic emotions through their characters. This process could almost be related to hypnosis where the writer relies on his or her inner thoughts and feelings to effectively add depth to their novel's fictitious characters. In the novel Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf used a technique called stream-of-consciousness in which she attempted to write the novel in the same patterns as her brain's thought process.... [tags: Cunningham Hours Essays]
1950 words (5.6 pages)
- Cunningham's The Hours: A Story about Life and Death "The Hours" by Michael Cunningham is a complicated story that explores life and death. Cunningham attempts to distinguish his writings from author Virginia Woolf's by characterizing sanity and insanity while each protagonist contemplates their own life and suicide. Each woman in The Hours wrestles tension and confusion throughout the novel giving a sense that these issues transcend time. By introducing issues of homosexuality, infidelity, and suicide the reader is invited to think of life's experiences within the context of daily life.... [tags: Cunningham Hours Essays]
1062 words (3 pages)
- Parallel Experiences of Three Troubled Women in Cunningham's, The Hours According to Chronicles magazine, "Woolf was undeniably a brilliant writer." Woolf's work of Mrs. Dalloway was read by fifteen-year-old Michael Cunningham in order to impress an older girl in school. As he stated, "the book really knocked me out." Once older, Cunningham wanted to write about Mrs. Dalloway, but thought not too many people would want to read a book about reading a book. He then thought he might want to read a book about reading the right book.... [tags: Cunningham Hours Essays]
1069 words (3.1 pages)
- 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]
627 words (1.8 pages)