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Essay on The Importance of Time in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway

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The Importance of Time in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway


We live in a consumer society consuming time. We use time to function smoothly but also to channel the direction of our lives. As a college student, I am constantly aware of time. I have a time frame for finishing my college career, as well as constant deadlines to meet. Daily, I divide my hours between my job, my studies, and my friends. In the midst of following external time, I strive for a balance with my internal time. My personal sense of time allows me to live in the present moment. However, I struggle to not be pressured by external time. I resent the tension it creates. The notion of time in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway particularly interests me. Her original title, The Hours, indicates the importance of time as one of the novel's themes (Lee 92). By looking at Woolf's writing style, critiquing her use of clocks, and analyzing Clarissa's thoughts, the reader finds a philosophical message about time, powerfully expressed.

The lyrical, flowing pattern of Woolf?s writing easily slides in and out of different characters? thoughts. Her ability to show the random yet patterned working of our minds gives us a realistic sense of mental time. Woolf?s sentences quickly cross the boundaries of the past, present, and future. She saw the writer?s task as ?being able to go beyond the `formal railway line of sentences? and to show how people feel or think or dream all over the place? (Lee 93). She wanted to express a point of view, not a plot. Her stream-of-consciousness writing allows us insight into a variety of characters. For example, within the first moments that we meet Clarissa, we rapidly travel between her present, her past, and her thoughts about the fu...


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...te technology to increase our efficiency. Our civilization tends to see scientific and monumental achievements as the most valid measures of an individual?s success. However, in the process, our communities disintegrate. More and more people complain of feeling alienated. The evidence surrounds us. The internal time that allows us to slow down and be involved with people finds itself dominated by external societal time. Some might find Clarissa Dalloway?s gift to the world to be trivial. However, we need individuals with the ability to pull people together?people with the ability to create community where it no longer exists.

References

Blackstone, Bernard. Virginia Woolf: A Commentary. London: Hogarth, 1949.

Lee, Hermione. The Novels of Virginia Woolf. London: Methuen, 1977.

Woolf, Virginia. Mrs. Dalloway. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1981.


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