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Thread: Literary analysis of a passage of Mrs Dalloway

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    Literary analysis of a passage of Mrs Dalloway

    Hello,
    Could anybody write a literary analysis of this passage:


    Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.
    For Lucy had her work cut out for her. The doors would be taken off
    their hinges; Rumpelmayer's men were coming. And then, thought
    Clarissa Dalloway, what a morning—fresh as if issued to children on a
    beach.
    What a lark! What a plunge! For so it had always seemed to her, when,
    with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had
    burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open
    air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the
    early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp
    and yet (for a girl of eighteen as she then was) solemn, feeling as she did,
    standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to
    happen; looking at the flowers, at the trees with the smoke winding off
    them and the rooks rising, falling; standing and looking until Peter
    Walsh said, "Musing among the vegetables?"—was that it?—"I prefer
    men to cauliflowers"—was that it?

    Write in my e-mail: [email protected]
    I need it.
    Thank you in advance

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    I will not write the entire literary analysis, but would love to help explore some ideas with you, having always had a love for Virginia Woolf. I will not e-mail it to you; if you desire help with this analysis, I hope you will check back here - welcome to the forum, nonetheless.
    Woolf partially belonged to what we classify now as flight-of-consciousness literature, and she wrote during that time period, too, a movement primarily in the early 1900's of the U.K. The first paragraph only consists of characters who will receive appropriate mentions later in the novel, if you will continue reading. "Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself" seems one of the most popular lines of Virginia Woolf, and in most literature of her era; one will later find her in the novel as frivolous, pretentious, and concerning herself with such small matters as who on Earth shall purchase the flowers for the upcoming party. The lark, mentioned in the beginning of the second paragraph, has a popularity as the "morning bird" nearly everywhere, just as the owl seems known as the bird of the night. "What a plunge," also a frequently quoted line from Woolf, alludes to the diving into what will turn out as an intense day.
    The remains, and majority, of the second paragraph reflects flight-of-consciousness literature in its purest essence, with its focuses on the saturation of the human senses, the creaking of the door hinges, the seeming stillness of the air, the site of the flowers and trees, and encorporating similes galore. Clarissa Dalloway embraces the world, despite her borderline snobbery; she has an observant quality about her, shares many strong bonds with many friends, and has many connections with her surroundings, but unfortunately, in regards to compensation, she lacks connection with her own psyche - instead, she holds her surroundings with a firm grasp, saturating her mind with gossip, throwing parties, inviting herself into others' problems, as you will see with her friend, a former soldier, later in the novel.
    Rarely, as we see later in the paragraph, will she reflect as deeply as she had. Clarissa Dalloway uses little logic and reason, but that does not subtract from the quality of intuition; she carries an instinctive thought that something negative shall happen during a day. Perhaps this comes out of a fear that something shall ruin her party, something impede her from buying the flowers herself, or something shall unpleasantly disturb soaking in the scenery of her surroundings - maybe something as simple as those examples, or perhaps she has the intuition of her own death, another's death, or something along those lines? Woolf writes in a very mysterious way as that. Peter Walsh's interruption does not portray his minute, senseless question as an interruption, but, instead, shows how easily Clarissa Dalloway can get distracted; she escapes her own meditation easily, in exchange to distract her senses with her surroundings, family, friends, etc.

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    Mono, thank you so much for your help!

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    Hi Mono,

    I read Mrs Dalloway in college and enjoyed it much. To me it was like a more accessible Ulysses. I now know that Ulysses was a major influence on Woolf when she was writing this novel, though she dismissed Joyce's epic as 'vulgar'.

    Where are the influences? -------------------------------------------------The main influence of Ulysess on Mrs Dalloway is the interior monologue (also called the stream of consciousness). There is also the idea of writing an entire novel about one day in the characters' lives and the celebration of the ordinary, everyday rituals of life. Plus there is the portrayal of thoughts as fragmented and not unified as they are represented in realist texts. There is also a blatant rip off - where the car carrying the royal person drives around london connecting the people who view it. There is something very similar in the Wandering Rocks episode of Ulysess.

    You might say that maybe it was Woolf who influenced Joyce but I'm pretty sure she was reading Ulysess whilst writing Mrs Dalloway. Anyone here who has tried to write something whilst reading something will know how easy it is to be influenced.

    What do you think of this question?

    David

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    Hi, David R, and welcome to the forum. Comparing Mrs. Dalloway and Ulysses seems easy in some parts, difficult in others; Ulysses undoubtedly inspired a lot of literature in its time, and continues to do so even today, as one of the gems of flight-of-consciousness literature, as well as, you mentioned, and I agree, the internal monologue used mostly in Romantic poetry, unheard of in fiction. Additionally, I even recall reading in the introduction of my copy of Mrs. Dalloway that Woolf partially intended her novel as a response to Joyce's Ulysses; one cannot deny the similarities between the flight-of-consciousness rhetoric used, but also, to counter the internal monologues, the somewhat unspoken and almost assumed language between the characters - Mrs. Dalloway speaks little to other characters, other than of petty things, while Stephen Daedalus and Leopold Bloom seem to do the same in critiquing everything and everyone (their friends, Bloom's wife, Daedalus' students, etc.) from a cerebral perspective, yet there exists little interpersonal interaction. Both novels adhere strongly to somewhat of a curse of the conscience, but on the contrary, Joyce symbolically sticks to themes of paternity and heroics, while Woolf takes a much more emotional perspective, maintaining her common feminist attributes; to me, Joyce seems more cerebral, while Woolf appears with more feeling, as vague as that sounds.
    I agree that Woolf, seeming so well-read, must have studied Ulysses greatly in-depth, despite there only existing a 3-year span between their publication years; the common themes, attributes (the one-day time alottment you mentioned), small cameo-like appearances (the royal car you pointed out, which I did not previously notice) seem difficult to deny, but I would also have trouble in saying that Ulysses did not inspire many, many works of its time influencing, if not beginning, flight-of-consciousness literature.

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    Hi mono, I'm currently doing a comparison of Clarrisa Dalloway and Esther Greenwood's (from the bell jar) mentalities - how they're similar and different. I found your explanation of the first page of mrs dalloway to be extremely helpful and any input on my essay topic or what direction i should take on it or some help in whatever form would be really appreciated. im not asking you to write my essay, oh God no, however - as i said before - help would be amazing. thanks a lot

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    Quote Originally Posted by mono View Post
    Hi, David R, and welcome to the forum.
    I agree that Woolf, seeming so well-read, must have studied Ulysses greatly in-depth, despite there only existing a 3-year span between their publication years; the common themes, attributes (the one-day time alottment you mentioned), small cameo-like appearances (the royal car you pointed out, which I did not previously notice) seem difficult to deny, but I would also have trouble in saying that Ulysses did not inspire many, many works of its time influencing, if not beginning, flight-of-consciousness literature.
    Hi Mono,

    Thanks for the reply. I would be happy to say that Mrs Dalloway was written as a response to Ulysses - there are so many similarities that it would have to be so, the only other conclusion being that Woolf ripped off Ulysses and I don't think a writer as gifted as she was would have had to do that.

    Also, Mrs Dalloway is the only Woolf novel I've read. Can you recommend which of her books I should read next?

    Thanks,
    David

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    Quote Originally Posted by HMJ
    Hi mono, I'm currently doing a comparison of Clarrisa Dalloway and Esther Greenwood's (from the bell jar) mentalities - how they're similar and different. I found your explanation of the first page of mrs dalloway to be extremely helpful and any input on my essay topic or what direction i should take on it or some help in whatever form would be really appreciated. im not asking you to write my essay, oh God no, however - as i said before - help would be amazing. thanks a lot
    What an interesting comparison, but I feel unsure how much I can help, not having read The Bell Jar in some time; I read it years ago. Personally, I would think it easier to compare and contrast Virginia Woolf and Sylvia Plath, but Woolf based Clarissa Dalloway much off of herself, semi-autobiographically, just as Plath did with Esther Greenwood; the latter, however, or so I feel, seemed to suppress some of her identity, separating herself a bit more from her work than Woolf, explaining why she actually wrote The Bell Jar under a pen-name that I cannot recall presently. The writing styles also seem quite different between Woolf and Plath, in that the former composed Mrs. Dalloway in the form of flight-of-consciousness, and the latter wrote The Bell Jar in a much more logical, narrative flow; nonetheless, as vague as it sounds, both had an undeniably strong and dark introspective quality about their novels that explores the depths of their troubled minds, plagued by the same mental illness, and neither neglects to take their readers with them.
    Clearly, both Dalloway and Greenwood have obsessive qualities about status, appearance, and interpersonal events, which gives them both quite an a priori cameo of pretentiousness, yet much more, so much more, yields in those manic craniums of theirs. Dalloway conceals "the silence" with intentionally preoccupying herself with planning unneeded events, the prerequisites for those unneeded events (flowers, for one example), wandering about the glamours of the post-WWI metropolis, and the gossip of others' lives (Septimus, Peter); Greenwood, in a way, embraces a similar "silence," preoccupying herself with her admittedly-absurd internship in a new metropolis and also the gossip of her friends (Betsy, Doreen) and family, but not out of a matter of distraction-from-self (like Dalloway), yet more out of desire for congenialness, custom, and assumed roles to the point of self-exhaustion and expectation-role-strain. Clarissa Dalloway attempts to hide the similar somewhat manic-depressive-like qualities that Esther Greenwood owns; Dalloway does not do well at hiding them behind her mask made for hostesses (I think many characters in Mrs. Dalloway mistake it for enthusiasm), but it seems in Greenwood's nature to conceal her mental afflictions, perhaps out of modesty, humiliation, shyness, having a more introspective aspect to her natural personality.
    The fate of Esther Greenwood goes unanswered, and The Bell Jar ends practically mid-step, while Mrs. Dalloway ends up a success to her somewhat uneventful party to conclude Woolf's novel; she receives the news of Septimus' suicide there, but bears an odd contentment (the end of suffering), that she perhaps would have felt at hearing if Greenwood, indeed, got discharged from her institutionalization, too, if we could combine the two novels. Though I consider myself no expert on either Woolf or Plath, I would not call Greenwood and Dalloway synonymous, yet I would not dare call them opposites either; both the writers and characters have strikingly similarities that no reader could deny, and Mrs. Dalloway would have had an unspoken empathy for Esther Greenwood, without a doubt, and, to reverse, Greenwood would have likely thought Dalloway "like a neverending spinning top off-balance."
    Good luck, and I hope I provided at least a little help.
    Quote Originally Posted by David R
    Also, Mrs Dalloway is the only Woolf novel I've read. Can you recommend which of her books I should read next?
    If you really enjoyed the flight-of-consciousness style of James Joyce and Mrs. Dalloway, out of the Woolf novels I have read, I would consider To The Lighthouse her crown work in that literary movement; otherwise, one cannot go wrong with Orlando, one of my personal favorites not only of Woolf, but in all of literature.
    All the best!

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    Hi again Mono,

    That was so helpful you would not believe.
    Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. In fact, if it's not a problem I may just bother you again after I'm done writing the essay and send it to you to critique, if you want that is (and if it's not too much of a hassle).

    Thanks again, really, thank you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by HMJ
    Hi again Mono,

    That was so helpful you would not believe.
    Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. In fact, if it's not a problem I may just bother you again after I'm done writing the essay and send it to you to critique, if you want that is (and if it's not too much of a hassle).

    Thanks again, really, thank you!
    Sure, just attach it to a private message whenever you finish, and I will do what I can.

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    can any analyze character of clarissia and septiumes ???? pllllllllllz

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    Hi Mono I was wondering if you could help me??

    I have to write a 3 page essay on Mrs. Dalloway. The prompt is

    Discuss the consequences of Clarissa’s transformation into the “proper” society wife.

    Could you help me please?? Thank you so much!!

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