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Use of Stream of Consciousness by Virginia Woolf and T.S. Eliot Essay

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Stream of consciousness is a key technique used most famously by modernist writers T.S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf. The Oxford-English Dictionary defines consciousness as “Internal knowledge or conviction; the state or fact of being mentally conscious or aware of something.” The term “stream of consciousness” is what is going through an individual’s mind. There is always a conversation going on within a person’s mind, whether it is an internal debate or just a general observation. The Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms defines stream of consciousness as “The continuous flow of sense-perceptions, thoughts, feelings and memories in the human mind.” To put in simpler terms, stream of consciousness is the thoughts that pass through a person’s mind at all times, it is a constant stream of thoughts.
Stream of consciousness was a term created in the late 1890’s. The phrase was coined by philosopher William James in the book “The Principles of Psychology.” Stream of consciousness has also been referred to as an “interior monologue” by James. James describes interior monologue as a vocal stream of consciousness. The interior monologue is essentially a conversation from within involving only oneself. Eliot and Woolf both use this methodology to help the reader connect with the perception of each character. It allows readers to get a deeper understanding of each character rather than using the thoughts of a third party narrator.

Stream of consciousness is a never ending process in the brain. While speaking to another person, one can never see what someone else is thinking. For that reason, you will never fully know somebody and what thoughts are constantly crossing that persons mind. That is what stream of consciousness is about; it is a...


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...of the greatest writers of their generation.



Works Cited

Simpson, J. A., and E. S. C. Weiner. The Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon, 1989. Print.

Snaith, Anna. "Virginia Woolf's Narrative Strategies: Negotiating between Public and Private Voices." JSTOR. Indiana University Press, 1996. Web. 27 Feb. 2014.

Sang, Yanxia. "An Analysis of Stream-of-Consciousness Technique in To the Lighthouse."Asian Social Science 6.9 (2010): n. pag. Web.

Baldick, Chris. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1990. Print.

James, William. The Principles of Psychology. New York: Dover Publications, 1950. Print.

Stillinger, Jack, Deidre Lynch, Stephen Greenblatt, and M. H. Abrams. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York, NY: W.W. Norton &, 2006. Print.

Woolf, Virginia. To the Lighthouse. New York: Harcourt, Brace &, 1927. Print.



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