Week 9d (13)

I’ve been so excited to hear more about your plans for the theses you’re beginning to write.

You guys have real contributions to make to the critical conversations that are happening out there, among literary critics at conferences and in the pages of our magazines and journals. I hope that you will aim high as you write your proposals, asking yourself: What do you really want to figure out about these texts, and how can you bring the insight and experience you have as a reader to understand literature better? This is exciting.

And when you start to feel daunted– because you will feel daunted sometimes, inevitably– know that that feeling is part of the process, too.

As you’re writing the proposal, try to identify more precisely where your knowledge falters. By marking those places now, you’ll know better how to use your research and your writing to shore up the parts that feel shaky.

With that goal in mind, ask yourself: As I’m writing, where do I start to feel like um, I don’t really know what I’m talking about here? Mark those spots! And we can talk about what you need to learn in order to feel confident there, too.

There is no fanciness too fancy for us if we want it (TINFTFFUIWWI).

Speaking of which, I took this photo for you last week at Hogwarts.

And speaking of fanciness of the British variety, this week we’re reading Mrs. Dalloway– and she is pretty fancy.

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This is a thing we can discuss if it’s interesting to you: Do you think the novel has a critical relationship to the class structure that invests Clarissa Dalloway with her high position, or does it just accept that structure passively?

And, more generally, where do you locate the politics of the novel? In fact, Virginia Woolf had a pretty active engagement with some political movements of her time, so it would be odd if this novel had no content more important than a fancy lady’s party preparations. Where do you see it demonstrating– or hinting at– the good of literature in relationship to the political world?

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As we’re thinking about the exam, too, I want to locate this novel in the context of high modernism in Britain. It will be helpful for you to clarify your understanding of the timeline for the texts you’ve read throughout the major, asking: How do literary writers working in a similar time and place cohere, around what general patterns in form and content? What kinds of categorizations will help you talk about any specific writer in a larger context of literary history?

To help you think about these questions, we’ll compare the literary forms that Woolf devises in Mrs. Dalloway to the painterly forms that Picasso invents in Guernica and The Weeping Woman. You may feel a bit out of your element here, because this isn’t an art history class, and you may not have any specific vocabulary for talking about painting. But take a stab at it, anyway.

So far, you know that Woolf was trying to make the novel do things it had never done before with respect to time, space, character, and plot. How do you see those experiments continuing as you keep reading– what specific passages should we read together to understand what Woolf is doing here?

And how might you use those insights to interpret the paintings we’re looking at this week?

Then, finally. The other two readings are by graduate students. I’ve given them to you as models for ways to think about the kinds of writing you’ll do in the months to come.

What can you learn from Lindsay Turner’s article about Anne Boyer’s poem that you could use as a writer of a thesis? Where do you see her doing things you might want to do, too, to give your reader confidence in you as a critic?

And I gave you the Clune summary because it articulates a way of using a text as evidence that is usually hidden inside critical writing. What can you learn from this, if anything, that could help you through the writing process to come?

I am so glad that we’re going to get to discuss all of these things.

 

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15 Responses to Week 9d (13)

  1. When I read Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway” there was one political event that intrigued me. She writes, “He had gone through the whole show, friendship, European War, death, had won promotion, was still under thirty and was bound to survive…when peace came he was in Milan” (Woolf 86). Here, we get to know more about Septimus. We learned that while he was in war he had been through a lot and was under the age of thirty. Then, he recalls how he was in Milan when the war did end. After I read this I thought that Septimus does have a lot of trauma due to this war, especially being younger than 30. Woolf, even, discusses how a truce was signed but not without a lot of people dying. By Woolf discussing this I not only learned a bit more about Septimus, but how this war started and ended in the first place.

    But, moving away from the political aspect of the text for a bit I want to discuss Mrs. Dalloway’s character and Pablo Picasso’s “Weeping Woman.” I noticed that these two women have lived two completely different lives. We see that Mrs. Dalloway, “…laid her green dress on her bed, and the Warren Smiths walked down Harley Street. Twelve was the hour of their appointment” (Woolf 94). We see that Mrs. Dalloway is setting up her outfit, while the Warren Smiths are walking in Harley Street. Just as a side note, I was curious as to how Harley Street looked so when I looked it up it appeared to be a very wealthy neighborhood in London. It’s definitely been established time and time again that Mrs. Dalloway and her guest are wealthy people compared to Picasso’s “The Weeping Women.” When I, first, read that this painting is of a woman who has her dead child in her arms I was puzzled. After taking a closer look, I noticed this child in her arms. Then, I learned that this was part of an anti-war mural. Similar to Septimus this woman has survived the war, but her child has not. This woman is not like Mrs. Dalloway who appears to be concerned about what she is going to wear, while the Warren Smiths walk down a fancy neighborhood. I was intrigued how different these two women are, and I couldn’t help but wonder more about Mrs. Dalloway’s views on war.

  2. Maggie C. says:

    “The dead were in Thessaly, Evans sang, among the orchids. There they waited till the War was over, and now the dead, now Evans himself –” writes Woolf on page 70 about the war. What brings to mind the politics of the novel here is that she’s taking something political and putting an emotion behind it. Had she blatantly stated from the first page “war is bad, hey, also mental illness is a thing” I doubt many people would have read it. However , the way she frames the story is what gives it exactly what it needs; wrapped up in pearls and flower petals, the prose is lovely enough to lead someone into what lurks beneath before they realize what else is going on underneath the party planning. As for class, I think Woolf is definitely bringing something to light there too. Even if Clarissa does accept her position with a certain passivity, it’s the awareness of her narration that makes it clear. The stream of consciousness and how it bleeds into other people and the past shows her awareness of this. Maybe she feels she can’t do anything but she knows what’s going on. In fact, she spends so much time fixated on planning the party it’s hard to not see her as incredibly trapped. Septimus, because he’s a man and of different life circumstances, has more autonomy over his life. If not for the structure, the way they function is almost like a protagonist and foil. Where Clarissa can’t express the trauma of her condition, Septimus’ place in the piece means he can do nothing but and so becomes her mirror.

    As for something like Guernica, I think they differ in the way that looking at Guernica, quite literally, puts you in the center of things. Guernica, based on the Basque town of the same name in Spain that was bombed, immediately calls forth images of despair. However, its fragment nature is reminiscent of Woolf’s writing. The image isn’t one painting but rather different pieces of symbolism blending into one another and interacting. Weeping Woman, also written about the same event, takes a different perspective. Instead of directly depicting the tragedy, he depicts the idea of suffering in response to it. Using vivid color, fractured lines, and a disjointed nature of form, we as observers are drawn to the different parts of the woman’s face the same way Woolf’s writing does that with stream of conscious. As one description of Weeping Woman puts it “We imagine ourselves in the excoriated face of this woman, into her dark eyes” and while Clarissa’s face may be perfectly pressed and made-up, one need only take a look beyond the faucet of the expository setting to understand exactly what the novel means to convey.

  3. Venessa says:

    Mrs. Dalloway has done a lot in terms of form for a novel. By making the scope of time a day, Virginia Woolf has created something that truly delves into the minds of the characters as never done before. The minute details of thought are brought to life through Woolf’s unique writing style. Time and space are confined to an enclosed moment in the lives of the characters. This one day – the day of Clarissa’s party – is the big moment that the novel revolves around. The people involved in that event are being exposed through their thoughts. By writing in this style, Woolf gives us more character development than we would have gotten through dialogue. To successfully create a novel that spans a day is a remarkable feat, and one that Woolf has gracefully accomplished. The stroke of Big Ben tells us that time is passing, that the hours of the day are indeed moving along, though thoughts are not confined by time. The breaking of these thoughts is very similar to the painting by Picasso: The Weeping Woman. In this painting, the woman’s face is broken into parts. I believe that is representative of the idea that thoughts are fragments, each with particular details and emotion behind them. Combined, they reflect a particular moment in time. For Picasso, the painting captures different people all feeling the moment of the war happening through this one image. In the same way, Woolf is reflecting on all the thoughts of the characters from this one particular day. Both also were created as post-World War I works of art.

    In regards to the politics of the time, Septimus reflects the actual destruction that resulted from World War I. He embodies the chaos and wreckage the war has caused on the world. In regards to a woman’s role in politics, at least focused through Clarissa’s character, “she had to see things through his eyes – one of the tragedies of married life. With a mind of her own, she must always be quoting Richard” (77). Clarissa was a product of social politics. When a woman married, her views became that of her husband. It is clear that that is the thought being portrayed here. Clarissa had her own views, yet she was unable to voice them because she was meant to agree with what her husband believed. In these minor moments of thought, and there are plenty throughout the novel, different characters have different perspectives on politics. That is another way that Woolf’s narrative is so extravagant. It allows us to climb inside the depths of the characters on many different aspects, through thoughts.

  4. Emily Abrams says:

    This second third of Mrs. Dalloway offers readers a more critical view of class structure, at least from the perspectives of those around Clarissa. Previously, the third person omniscient narration, specific to Clarissa, showed a muted recognition of high position. Clarissa is a passive acceptor of Britain’s class structure, going about her day concerned solely with planning her party. In this sense, maybe readers even passively accept Clarissa’s upper-class standing as purely plot construction. Yet, in this section, Peter Walsh’s narration gives readers get a more critical perspective. As Peter convinces himself he’s no longer in love with Clarissa, he basis his reasoning upon how Clarissa “cared too much for rank and society and getting on in the world… hated frumps, fogies, failures, like himself presumably” (76). More explicitly, readers see through Miss Kilman, the tutor of Clarissa’s daughter, the most scathing criticism. Miss Kilman’s narration pinpoints how she “pitied” and “despised”—even hatred for—women like Clarissa, living in luxury, “trif[ling]” her life away, according to Miss Kilman (125). Miss Kilman’s ego—being a self-made woman, a historian—puts her in conflict with those “absorbed” by parties and high standing (131-132). Her narration is the most drastic departure from the gaiety of Clarissa and others of high standing in the narrative. However, I’d argue that Woolf stops short in this respect. She doesn’t forcefully use Peter or Miss Kilman’s perspectives to make some overarching class structure message; Woolf merely uses them, it seems, to add dimension to Clarissa’s character which would have been lacking otherwise. Woolf needed to acknowledge class structure in the narrative, but the narrative itself does not (nor did it need to) base itself solely on upon it. Whether this was a good choice on Woolf’s part is a question we must ask ourselves individually.

    Now, with regards to Lindsay Turner’s article, “Writing/Not Writing,” her analysis succeeds best because it incorporates a theoretical analysis of capitalism and labor to Boyer’s poem, providing an intriguing argument. Much analytical writing serves an author’s purpose of proposing their unique perspective on a particular text. Here, Turner argues that prolepsis in Anne Boyer’s poem has the “capacity” to create “channels and pathways of new ways of thinking about the relationships between categories of labor,” that being capitalism and its tension with creativity (127, 136). From there, Turner examines directly the “performative contradiction” of Boyer’s poem, examining the effect of prolepsis’ inversion and thoroughly explaining it for benefit of the readers (127). Through her acute attention to the poem’s details, her keen quote examinations, and her integration of a labor and socioeconomic analyses, Turner provides a comprehensive and compelling argument. Turner delivers a clear, straight-to-the-point argument, cites sparingly key secondary sources and, most importantly, critically examines the primary text itself. If not just these elements as useful guidance for critical writers, the structure of Turner’s article serves useful for any thesis in its beginning stage.

  5. Deepika Khan says:

    I think the novel has a critical relationship to the class structure that invests Clarissa Dalloway with her high position because of the introduction of Miss Kilman’s point of view. The fact that Miss Kilman is wearing a “mackintosh” (Woolf 126) seems to be noteworthy to Clarissa, who is undoubtedly in more expensive clothes. The latter half of this week’s reading shed Clarissa Dalloway in a more unfavorable light because of her hesitance to invite Miss Kilman, her daughter’s history teacher, to the big party she is planning. Politics, to me at least, seem the most apparent in the jewelry shop scene between Hugh Whitbread and Richard Dalloway. While the former seems set on seeing the shop owner so he could buy his wife an expensive gift, the latter appears to judge him throughout. Richard couldn’t understand why “people stood that damned insolence” by the higher-class (Woolf 114). Mr. Dalloway clearly does not share all the views of his high society friends, whose company, he admits, “could not stand more than an hour” (Woolf 115). Though Hugh possibly follows a more traditional approach to high-class marriage, in which husbands must buy expensive gifts for their wives, Richard views buying jewelry as a waste. However, he gets the sudden urge to buy something for Clarissa, even if it’s not ridiculously expensive, like a gold necklace, for example.

    Along with other modernist writers, Virginia Woolf follows a few general patterns in form and content. The most obvious modernist form is the use of stream of consciousness. Since we, as readers, have the opportunity to delve into the minds of Woolf’s characters, dialogue is not always necessary for this book. I think Woolf’s lack of dialogue and multiple character storylines are the kinds of categorizations that may help me understand the larger context of modernism in literary history. Comparing Picasso’s “Guernica” and “The Weeping Woman” to Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway,” one can see the fractured structure and style each applies to their respective works. “Guernica” has so many characters present at the same space and time that it’s difficult to focus on just one, much like Woolf’s novel. “The Weeping Woman” reminds me of Rezia, since she is “so unhappy” and cries more often than she used to (Woolf 70), before marrying Septimus.

  6. Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is, or at least seems to be, a post-war novel. Yes, it undoubtedly takes place following the World War I, but the novel addresses many of the issues affected by the war. Septimus is, obviously, a representation of the throngs of traumatized soldiers returning home form the battlefield, afflicted with a seemingly incurable disease and treated in ways which we now know are counter-productive. Septimus’ suicide is probably the most overtly political moment in the novel, as he makes the grand gesture of throwing himself out of a window and onto some railings in fear of being captured and institutionalized. Doris Kilman is representative of both women and the working class, two groups which, having organized during the war effort, gained newfound power once peace returned. Miss Kilman is someone who works to make a living and is therefore a far more independent woman than Clarissa. Furthermore, she is “poor” and resents “rich people, who liked to be kind,” highlighting the class disparity between Miss Kilman and Mrs. Dalloway. Women’s suffrage and issues of class were issues of political importance during the writing and publication of “Mrs. Dalloway” in 1925, with women only gaining a limited right to vote in 1918.

    But how does the stream-of-consciousness style play into the political themes of the book? Perhaps by focusing entirely on the internal workings of her characters, Woolf is able to show that the machinery of oppression is not necessarily the result of many people wishing to be oppressive in tandem, but rather many people being ignorant of or apathetic toward oppression. Clarissa is not going about her day wishing to be negligent toward Septimus or oppressive toward the working class, yet each action she takes accomplishes exactly that.

    I see how “Guernica” might be compared to the Woolf’s style in “Mrs. Dalloway,” each being an abstraction of what a viewer would expect of the medium, but I’m not sure how to connect them beyond that. Picasso’s “Guernica” is an anti-war piece inspired by the bombing of the titular town. According to the given passage, the painting itself is not of that massacre, or any real event. Instead, it is “a generic plea against the barbarity and terror of war.” How does this relate to Woolf’s writing? Could one argue that “Mrs. Dalloway” is a generic plea against willful ignorance, presented as the abstract representation of just such ignorance? Perhaps.

  7. In Mrs. Dalloway the novel does have a critical relationship that we see shown with the class structure in the text. We constantly see that Clarissa’s character comes from an upper class, which we see by the way she dresses, or when the text indicates that Richard was more appropriate for her to marry, instead of Peter. Those moments in the text, which reflect on the class structure is connected to the way that the novel is written. In terms of structure, we see that the characters have different backgrounds, like Peter coming from a lower class than Clarissa. What is also interesting about the novel, is that it switches from one character and their thoughts into the other. The fact that we see that the author choose to mostly focus on a single character at a time indicates that each character is separated in a sense from the other. Although, characters like Peter and Clarissa do interact, socially they come from different classes, they are not necessarily grouped together, instead they seem to be separated by some sort of boundary.

    The social differences shown between the characters of the novel, Mrs.Dalloway could indicate more about their political beliefs. This is around the time where WWI has ended, which is why we see that Septimus might be suffering from PTSD. For Septimus, although he did defend his country during war, he suffers a lot once we see him back in Britain. Instead, his views change, and he looks at the world in a different light. In Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway the text states, “Scientifically speaking, the flesh was melted off the world. His body was macerated until only the nerve fibres were left” (68). It’s strange because, Septimus looks at the world around him very differently. As you read novel, the text seems to indicate that Septimus’s political views have changed. We know that Septimus did go to war, that indicates that he was fighting for his country, and he believed in the way that his country and the way they viewed things. However, in the text, Septimus is presented as a character who seems to dislike the world he’s in. Instead, he sees many things in a very controlled manner, and we even see that Septimus himself moves in a controlled way as he reacts to his wife.

    Picasso’s painting of Guernica is a clear political statement. Since it was a reaction to the German bombing, we do get a sense of tragedy, as that is what Picasso created in his painting. What is interesting about this painting, is that it was a plea against war, and the cruelty and primitive behavior that came as a part of that. Which could be why we see animals in the painting, because in war, people’s animalistic behaviors do tend to come out as they defend their country and one another against the enemy. But the fact that this painting was a plea against war is interesting because we can connect that back to Septimus’s character. After his experience with war, he seemed to look at things in a very controlled way, almost machine like, noting every part of the overall scene in front of him. But the way in which Septimus acts, or reacts, or deals with seeing Evans is interesting. Obviously it’s strange to everyone around him, but we see that he resists, even with the doctor, and even in his death. And Septimus’s resistance could signify his resistance not only with the people around him. But it may also represent his resistance with aligning himself with Britain, or even resisting being in a war environment. Which in the end, which is directly connected to the Picasso’s Guernica, Septimus’s death, like the painting, could also be seen as a plea against war.

  8. Kaitlin Margaret McDermott says:

    Revising (read:overhauling and rewriting) my thesis proposal this week, got me thinking about writing, the writing process, and how to be a stronger academic writer. While I have written longer academic pieces for classes in the past, when writing the introductory paragraphs to my thesis paper I was struck more than I ever have been by worries about structure, pacing, and style. How should I communicate what I find interesting about my selected texts to others? How can I? What affordances do I, as a writer with limited expertise on the subject, have when writing about texts that have been interpreted and reinterpreted extensively in existing criticism? In Gaipa’s terms: How can I forge a place at the conference ballroom table?

    I found that both the summary piece and the critical text on Boyer’s poetry helped to quell some of the thesis inspired anxieties that arose this week. The critical text was like a map that helped me to understand more clearly what a paper of this size should look like. The weaving of sources with historical, economic, and social contexts was especially interesting to me, as I expect that my thesis topic taking shape interacts in large degree with each of these contexts. The discussion of “not writing” as paralipsis in Turner’s text was an interesting reminder of the Boyer poetry that we read a few weeks back. This idea of accomplishing a task through rejecting and/or denying that the task is being done is something that I have observed in other texts (including my thesis texts, albeit in a broader, more stylistically grounded way), but I never knew there was a word for what was happening. In my mind, this keyterm connects to the term subtext — the two are surely different and accomplish different ends, but work, I think, often in tandem. “Not writing” is both a rejection of writing and an example of the act itself. For me, “writing” itself is an example of paralipsis: I “write” as I cook, drive, talk, shower — the action of “writing,” that is putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, is not the writing experience, but rather a representation of it. This realization is something that I’m trying to remember as I move forward through my own cycles of writing/not writing.

    I am still enjoying Mrs Dalloway, and hoping that we have more of a chance to talk about the novel this week than we did last week. I would never have thought to place the novel against paintings — though, I guess they are all “texts,” in a broader sense of the word— but placing the works next to one another made a lot of sense to me. Both of the paintings, especially “Guernica,” have a profound sense of movement, capturing the chaos of a particular moment experienced by the painter. Against Woolf’s text, this sense of movement evoked in a more traditionally static “form” — words on a page, marks on canvas — is fascinating. The sense of movement and sheer detail is what I am truly loving about Mrs Dalloway, and I appreciate the so-called splitting of the atom that Woolf accomplishes in it. The paintings and Woolf’s text alike are raising questions of representations of the “ordinary,” which I hope we can discuss as a class.

  9. I think I finally had something of a breakthrough with my thesis this week. Sitting down to revise, considering all the conversations with other professors I’ve had about my subject, I’m finally ready to put my idea down on paper and begin the process of research and answering the questions I’m posing for myself. That was the biggest breakthrough for me – realizing that I didn’t need to have an answer before, during, or even after the thesis was said and done. Only that I did the best I could to answer the questions with regard to as much established theory and literature as I could. I’m terrified because I’m kind of blazing my own trail here. I’m doing things with a medium that the literary community has largely ignored, and I’m setting out to fix that. Heeeeelp. But in all seriousness, taking on such a large task is just as exciting as it is daunting. It’s my chance to be (almost) completely original, creative, and academic all at the same time.

    Reading the two graduate student papers was helpful in figuring out how to formulate my paper, and in some ways how I don’t want to write mine. I’m writing about something I’m deeply passionate and excited about and I want it to show. I don’t want people reading my paper to be bored and uninterested, and I have my own writing style that, I’d like to think, is engaging, humorous, and informative. Sometimes language in these kinds of paper gets dry and uninteresting at times, and I feel like both texts did that to some degree – less so for the Turner piece.

    Shifting gears away from uninteresting language, Mrs. Dalloway continues to hook me in with Woolf’s mastery of language. I’m finding more and more that, as I describe the plot of this book to other people, that it’s not the plot that interests me (though Septimus’ suicide certainly filled my dramatic quota for this section). What keeps me hooked is just how good Woolf is at moving between scene to scene seamlessly and chaotically at the same time. Despite having to reread sections to make sure I understand the plot, which is something I generally can’t stand while reading, I am really enjoying deciphering the plot and being rooted in setting instead. Being rooted in place rather than person is really interesting to me as it’s so unique among literature. And I think functionally that reversal of reader expectations is meant to highlight how chaotic and confusing our every day social order is.

  10. Jude Binda says:

    The most interesting politically charged topic Woolf engages with is the role of the marriage market. When reading about Clarissa’s relationship with Richard, there is the sense that she has married him because he is richer than Peter. This references the transactional nature of marriages of the time. There is also underlying representation of gender dynamics happening here because Clarissa is compelled to choose the partner that offers the most economic potential.

    Oddly enough, Picasso’s Guernica made me feel somewhat similar senses compared to reading Mrs. Dalloway. At a glance, both pieces seem like a meaningless, jumbled messes, but what you look more closely, you will find that they are both meaningful, jumbled messes. Much like Mrs. Dalloway, Guernica makes me wonder how everything ended up the way it did, but there is also the question of what is even happening now? There is so much confusion and chaos that invites the person taking the piece in to make sense of. This question is something that keeps coming to mind when I wonder about Mrs. Dalloway and the painting in conversation: is there even any sense to be made? I think it is entirely possible that we are supposed to find beauty in the mystery and confusion (which I find is a difficult thing to be content with).

    The Turner’s thoughts are definitely something I plan on keeping in mind as I write my thesis. The doubt I seem to be having throughout this process is a voice asking “What valuable contribution could I possibly add to the scholarly world?” Also, I have been wondering what a final product might look like so I can hopefully work towards it. Both of these questions were answered by the Turner reading. It was illuminating because I finally have somewhat of a model to go off of and I feel a bit more confident in the ways I could possibly execute my thesis.

  11. Khurram says:

    The thing about an 11th-hour-holiday disaster is that a metaphorical pipe bursts in the rest of your life too, throwing everything off. So don’t take my opinion as unmoving; it’s all subject to change.

    I’m not particularly adept at understanding the history around a text, its historical moment, its internal history, etc. I can’t really glance at a book and know, but there are some things that you glean from your own understanding of styles, however limited. You don’t, for example, read Shakespeare and wonder what independent America is up to. Mrs. Dalloway dates itself through its plot, but the flowery, dense prose describing domesticity feels pulled from an earlier century. Except Woolf’s work feels weightier. I can’t criticize anyone she could be compared to, only single novels that I’ve read, but PTSD, sham healthcare, how binary gender roles pave over sexual identity, the plot after the wedding, a “day in the life” story that’s both the most important moment to find our characters in yet doesn’t rob the depth of their living experiences so that we don’t think, say, marrying Mr. Whosits was the only thing of importance to happen to these people? It’s all so modern yet presented in what reads like a bygone style—even if the plot construction was a revelation, and might still be—that it almost feels anachronistic, and that’s a compliment, especially given the genre and adjacent genres I’m comparing it to. This could be my own literary limitations typing, but yea, we should read stuff like this more. I had to strain to catch allusions to the slave trade in Mansfield Park, and practically pulled a lobe in my brain to see pro-abolition references, but so many of Mrs. Dalloway’s statements are right there to be read, heard, understood. Domesticity isn’t polish here, something to make the plot’s resolution shiny, so you have to dig for the grit. Domesticity is the dirt.

    To that end, what’s most interesting to me is the human politics in Mrs. Dalloway. The way people are considered, inspected, and prone to undertake what’s expected. The way politics invade healthcare and personal space. The uneasy role of patriotism, an art-snuffer, a hat-raiser, a man-killer. How sexual identity is a mandated identity, but opting into one doesn’t exclude you from another.

    Conventionally and structurally, it’s the passivity we adopt a day at a time that’s jarringly intriguing. Think of the complex rejections of structure that flow through Woolf’s free indirect speech, then think that all this turmoil happens in one day. It starts from a passive place, it bubbles at its center, it threatens to break its upper and lower bounds, and then it ends at its passive equilibrium. Imagine it as an eye, left to right, with a steady taper and then an explosion of color, lines, grime, hair, a circle inside an orb darting about, all the emotion expressed by expansions and retractions. And then a gentle taper at the end.

    That’s one day, and I get the implication that these days stack upon one another, they threaten to break free in their contained urgency but eventually it’s all put off for another day, and then another and then another, and before we realize—distracted by our incremental dissatisfaction, confusing spot-frustration as progression towards rejection—a life has been lived that could be perceived as satisfied by an outside observer. In a blink.

  12. Samantha Brown says:

    One political call that Woolf makes in her novel is the call to the influence and presence of women in her time. Within her book that has many female characters of all ages and nationalities, she is in her way, creating a space where women hold power and assert themselves in their own situations. For Clarissa, its a freedom and little wins like having her own room separate from Richard, going to get the flowers herself, and being the commanding boss figure in the whole party scheme and preparation. Then there’s Lucrezia, who is not a British national but is finding her bearings in their environment while dealing with the shame of her husband’s illness. As his caretaker, she asserts an influence over him and how his shellshock gets handled and ultimately how other people in their community view them. With Mrs. Dalloway, Woolf plays around with perspective in giving us a day in the life view of Clarissa and although she is the protagonist the story is not entirely about her and moves about England and their neighborhood showing readers the lives of other people and women in England at that time.

    Similarly, in interpreting Picasso’s Guernica, we are asked to examine and analyze the image of the female identity in the same way that Woolf asks us to. She orders us to examine the being of women in the complex aspects of sexuality and Independence and with Picasso’s piece we are asked to do the same. When looking at his artwork i am curious as to whether picasso is saying that a woman and her sadness are one. Is it the quintessential, cliche image of a woman to be this? or is his motive that she is more than that? more than just what people view on the surface and like the lines of his work it is complex and non linear?

    Turner’s article definitely helps in the understanding of how a thesis should be formatted and flow. She plays around with quotes and placement of them within her ideas. In connecting Anne Boyer’s poems to paralipsis, Turner shows me how to use research and embed it into my ideas.

  13. Stacey McDonald says:

    The most obviously political even that I was able to locate in this week’s reading from Mrs. Dalloway was the description of WWI as a way to give more of a backstory to Septimus. “He had gone through the whole show, friendship, European War, death, had won promotion, was still under thirty and was bound to survive. He was right there. The last shells missed him. He watched them explode with indifference. When peace came he was in Milan…” (Woolf 86), this quote serves to show us a side of Septimus that even, perhaps, his wife does not know. For when a man comes back from war, he may be alive, but is he ever truly whole? That is the question that Lucrezia is obviously struggling with, and after reading this section of the novel it seems very apparent that Septimus is suffering from some PTSD- something that would have been overlooked at a time when it wasn’t acceptable for a man (or anyone, for that matter) to speak about their mental health. At this point it seems very apparent to me that Septimus’ character may have been written to serve as a platform for Woolf to speak about mental illness, and how it can effect even the unlikeliest of people, even the strong, even a man brave enough to fight for his country.

    On the topic of mental illness, I want to look at Picasso’s “Weeping Woman” and “Guernica”. It is my understanding that these paintings were created in protest of the Spanish civil war, and when we think about this in connection with all that we know about Septimus’ character, the connection between the two is clear- that war affects all of us in some way, shape, or form. The woman that Picasso depicted has lost a son, and because of that loss she will never be the same person that she was before the war. “Guernica” depicts the effect that war has on an entire host of people- rich, poor, what have you- your social status cannot help you to avoid the unequivocal effects of something like a war. As I sit here writing this post, in 2018, it boggles my mind that we still haven’t found a way to address issues like this in our society nearly 90 years later, and the fact that Picasso and Woolf chose to use their positions as artists as a platform upon which to speak about something so unspeakable is truly remarkable considering that they may very well have risked it all in doing so.

    I am definitely enjoying Mrs. Dalloway much more as we are seeing the inner-workings of each of Woolf’s characters.

    In terms of my thesis, while Turner’s article was absolutely helpful, I am still nervous. My decision to write more of a social science paper than that of a literary analysis has caused more than one mini-panic attack and while I’m sure that I will find the resources that I need to turn this thesis into a successful one, knowing that I will more likely than not have to rely on peer-reviewed articles is frightening, so we’ll see how this plays out. Stay tuned.

  14. Politics seem to be all across Woolf constructed world. It seems most apparent with her mention of World War I and its subsequent effects on the population (specifically Septimus); however, I think the most subtle and yet most poignant commentary has to deal with the social/cultural effect of marriage. Woolf creates various characters all from different social backgrounds, ages, and cultures and yet one distinct characteristic is their placement in (or lack thereof) in marriage and the unhappiness that the characters feel within their marriage.

    When looking at the internal struggle found within a marriage, I looked at Septimus’ and Lucrezia. With their marital struggles, once Lucrezia no longer wears her wedding ring, Septimus understands, “their marriage was over” (Woolf 67) and feels a sense of “agony” and “relief”. He states, “The rope was cut; he mounted; he was free” (67). The fact that Septimus feels this sense of liberation and alleviation from the end of his relationship truly gives insight into how he feels versus what society thinks he should feel about his marital issues. Additionally, considering his struggle with PTSD, I think his reaction to his marriage problems definitely provides insight into how he feels about his life. He would never outwardly say he is glad his marriage is over, but he is dealing with so many other internal issues, that I think Septimus just cannot convey his emotions and just leaves it bottled up.

    I interpret this notion of internalizing issues when I observe Picasso’s “Weeping Woman”. In this painting, the woman is obviously crying but I believe that looking closer, it depicts a woman trying to keep everything together. The piece is painted with distorted figures and various colors, but what stands out is the blue/gray tone smack down in the middle of her face. I believe this is meant to convey the emotions held within oneself and the feelings we hide from the public. From the outside perspective, the woman seems fine and yet, I believe Picasso use of structure and color is meant to present the contrast of what we chose to present to the public, and what is meant to remain private. In this case, the painting depicts something far more painful. Although the woman seems to be ok, the gray/blue tone is meant to provide insight into how she actually feels. In this case, although the painting is a 2-dimensional piece it provides a 3-dimensional scope of emotion and what the piece provides/fails to express.

    Finally, in terms of my thesis, I really liked the Turner article and thought it was really helpful in trying to understand how my essay should be structured and flow. I think it would be beneficial to use it as a point of reference once I start really writing my essay.

  15. Zara Diaby says:

    While reading with the prompt in mind to find the political alignment in Mrs .Dalloway, it struck me odd that it seemed to sway to the sense of the upper echelons of the upper crust. There was the type of alignment one would find in the ways of scheming the political courts of the Tudors and such. Everyone seemed to be trapped in their own world, their minds preoccupied by what they thought of others and what others seemed to think of them. Snobbery really. Though there was talk of war most of the women in this novel saw it from a superficial view.
    The thing I loved the most about reading this novel was the seamless way in which the flow of consciousness glides from character to character. Woofle truly is a master of language, she allows us a glimpse into the world of another, forming a truly interesting and coherent story. The way in which they seem to have a care for the way others see them is peculiar. It is not unlike the way we are now, we carefully cultivate an image for ourselves so that others can see us in the light we wish them to see us. Lucrenzia captures that perfectly in this quote,
    “people must notice; people must see. People, she thought, looking at the crowd staring at the motor car; the English people, with their children and their horses and their clothes, which she admired in a way; but they were “people” now, because Septimus had said, “I will kill myself”; an awful thing to say. Suppose they had heard him? (Woolfe)
    For Lucrenzia, people were no longer human once she no longer lived a “normal” life, her husband was ill- not ill in a respectable way, such as acquiring gout, but mentally. Her perfect image had faded away and she became an outsider and people moved from adjacent to outsiders because none of them could help her. They could only judge. “But failure one conceals,” to quote Woolfe.
    Looking at the “Weeping Woman” my thoughts kept with Lucrenzia, someone who is so affected by war although they never fought in it. By proxy of her husband she is another casualty. Her figure became skin and bones, her ring became loose, and her heart was broken. Her mentality was similar to that of her husband, she was mentally exhausted and alone because she had no one to help her, even her own doctor said he was okay when she knew he was not. I imagine Picasso saw this and captured it in his painting showing that war does not destroy physically but mentally as well.

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