Processing Emotions in Mrs. Dalloway and Demonology

Processing Emotions in Mrs. Dalloway and Demonology

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Processing Emotions in Mrs. Dalloway and Demonology

Hold them in or let them out; typically these are the only two options one has in dealing with their everyday emotions. Over time, making this decision has differed greatly. The transition between holding in your emotions and letting them out can be seen between two writers from two different eras. In Virginia Woolf’s Mrs.Dalloway, she portrays people in upper class England during the first half of the 20th century and how they process their emotions. Then, in Rick Moody’s short story Demonology he reveals how an average American family during the latter half of the 20th century chooses to handle their emotions. These two stories are perfect examples of how different eras dealt with their feelings in a completely different manner.

There can be many connections drawn between these two stories as to the situations the characters are living in and what they have to deal with. Given that they each take place in completely different time periods, the story lines act as a steady base to make judgments as to how they handle their emotions. The story lines also act as a reliable source as to what was going on during each time period. So with these two books, we are able to take them out of there context and actually view them as real life history. By doing this we are able to compare the two different eras and see how they decided to handle their emotions.

To begin comparing these two stories, the easiest comparison that is made is that both are stories that are based in one day. This allows us to see how they react to everyday situations. Second, they both deal with people conversing amongst one another. Each person has an image to up hold throughout the two stories. This is most apparent in Mrs. Dalloway since the main character is always trying to uphold her status amongst her social bracket. This is also the case in Demonology where the narrator’s sister is living the typical materialistic American life style, be it through her kids or simply her decisions on anything she does. Finally, these two stories allow us to see how people handle themselves when confronted with marital issues and most importantly how they deal with tragedy.

All of these comparisons set the stage for an open look as to what each author and era had to deal with and the way they went about it.

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In Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf draws a clear picture as to how things were during this time period. There were many large issues at the time such as the war and the economy, however thousands of other issues were never brought up. The characters lived there lives on a superficial wave that brushed many serious issues under the table, issues such as emotions.

The majority of Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is based on a party that brings together many people who are only open to one issue and that is their social status. The people fail to talk about what they are feeling. Clarissa lives here life married to man that she does not truly love, however if she leaves him it will effect her social status. Peter is another character who fails to express his emotions towards Clarissa and chooses to simply keep them bottled up. All of these are examples of how this era choose to hide their emotions. But the most pertinent example of this is brought out through Septimus both in the way he as well as others handled themselves while he was alive and how people reacted after his death. Septimus was a character that was in a state of emotional turmoil and he chose to simply to accept this fact by not seeking help or even talking with his wife. This of course would lead to his death. After his death, his wife Lucrezia took a sleeping pill from Dr. Holmes so that she would not have to think about the tragedy that had just occurred, she could escape her reality. A similar event takes place when Clarissa hears about the suicide and her emotions take over. Instead of expressing these emotions, Clarissa decides to go into a room by herself until they go away. She simply lets her emotion go away and she does not reveal them to anyone.

The decision of holding in ones emotions that his shown during Woolf’s story is not the case in Moody’s. His story represents the latter half of the 20th century as a society that is open to their emotions. He sets the stage very similarly to the way Woolf did in that he describes characters and there obsession with materials, “ just give me that, you don’t even like apples”(p.292). He also has a death in the story. Demonology however shows us how we have changed, we have become a society that can express our feelings.
The decisions made by the narrator’s sister show the difference that has come about when dealing with emotions. First off she has an ex-husband. This shows that some one in the relationship decided not to hide their true feelings and decided to act on them. She also act’s on her passions such as music. The main example though is shown through her stroke. The concern and seriousness of the situation is present. Moody brings this out unlike Woolf, he brings out the passion.

This is the main difference between the two authors and the two eras, one is filled with passion and the other is not. Moody fills his pages with random thoughts of things he feels so as a reader you become more involved. Woolf’s story leaves the reader in a position where you are merely moving your eyes left to right and up to down, there is no feeling. Moody does an excellent job expressing his passion during the last paragraph of the story when he literally writes down what he was thinking. He confronts his ideas and reveals to the reader what feels he could of done better.

If you take these two stories out of context and place them into eras and then see how each era handled personal emotion then it becomes quite clear that there is straight line that separates these two generations. The first half of the 20th century would be considered a time period where people held in there emotions and the second have would a period where people feel much more comfortable revealing there emotions. This difference can also be seen through people from these times. The first half of the 20th century was filled with the same, if not more hardships than that of the second and very little emotion was shown. There were things on war and depression, however many things were left un said. Septimus is the best example of a person during this time who felt compelled to hold his emotions in. If he was a vet from another war later on, I’m sure this would not have been the case. By writing in this style, Woolf left me feeling dry and uninterested in what the next page was going to hold. This however is not the case with Moody. He constantly had me interested in what was going to be said next because I had no idea as to where he was heading.

Each story is a perfect representative of there place in time. Looking back at the elegance and style of Mrs. Dalloway leads me to only see this book as being very similar to how England was at the time. On the outside everything appears to be moving along and few hardships were present, meanwhile on the inside the country is about to enter a depression. Woolf’s writing and her characters mirror this scenario. Everyone during this time period chose to put up a front instead of revealing the truth. It just seems that it was not socially accepted to reveal your thoughts if those thoughts were anything that went against the norm. Once again this is why Septimus was forced to take his life so that he wouldn’t reveal his thoughts and poison the status quo that needed to be obtained.

At some point the norm of not expressing ones feelings began to erode. People began showing their emotions because it was something they needed to do. During this spring quarter I began to see this transformation. This transformation began for me with A Handful of Dust and than became more apparent with Flan O’Brien’s book The 3rd Policeman. I could see the author’s passion and feelings as to what they felt was going on in their lives. Moody took this transformation to another level in his short stories. He has opened the doors for a new acceptance of revealing ones passions.
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