Essay on Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway - A Modern Tragedy

:: 5 Works Cited
Length: 3726 words (10.6 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Blue      
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Mrs. Dalloway - A Modern Tragedy      

    The narrative of Mrs. Dalloway may be viewed by some as random congealing of various character experience. Although it appears to be a fragmented assortment of images and thought, there is a psychological coherence to the deeply layered novel. Part of this coherence can be found in Mrs. Dalloway's psychological tone which is tragic in nature. In her forward to Mrs. Dalloway, Maureen Howard informs us that Woolf was reading both Sophocles and Euripides for her essays in The Common Reader while writing Mrs. Dalloway (viii). According to Pamela Transue, "Woolf appears to have envisioned Mrs. Dalloway as a kind of modern tragedy based on the classic Greek model" (92). Mrs. Dalloway can be conceived of as a modern transformation of Aristotelian tragedy when one examines the following: 1) structural unity; 2) catharsis; 3) recognition, reversal, and catastrophe; 4) handling of time and overall sense of desperation.

Structural Unity

Woolf read the Poetics in Greek and was cognizant of the Aristotelian criteria for tragedy. One necessary element, from Aristotle's definition, is structural unity. It consists of an interrelationship of events within the plot. Each event must follow, causally, preceding action to form a coherent whole. According to Aristotle, "a whole is that which has beginning, middle, and end" (233). The Poetics further states: "Again to be beautiful, a living creature, and every whole made up of parts, must not only present a certain order in its arrangement of parts, must also be of a certain magnitude" (233). The ideal Aristotelian plot should be well constructed, without any extraneous parts, and consists of memorable length.

Although upon first reading, ...

... middle of paper ...

...rior and exterior nuances. Although it seems contradictory, Woolf's use of fragmented imagery and thought colliding together almost randomly yet linked beneath the surface by fine threads of coherency represents an attempt synthesize the novel with life.

Works Cited

Aristotle. "The Poetics." The Rhetoric and the Poetics of Aristotle. Ed. Ingram Bywater. New York: McGraw Hill, 1984. 223-66.

Bazin, Nancy Topping. Virginia Woolf and the Androgynous Vision. New Burnswick: Rutgers UP, 1973.

Curd, Patricia Kenig. "Aristotelian Visions of Moral Character in Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway." English Language Notes 33.1 (1995): 40-57.

Howard, Maureen. Foreward. Mrs. Dalloway. By Virginal Woolf. New York: Harcourt and Brace, 1981, vii-xiv.

Transue, Pamela J. Virginia Woolf and the Politics of Style. Albany: State U of New York P, 1986.


Click the button above to view the complete essay, speech, term paper, or research paper

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

This essay is 100% guaranteed.

Title Length Color Rating  
The Life and Work of Virginia Woolf Essays - From the early death of her mother at age 13 to the sexual abuse from her own half brothers led to the many mental and emotional breakdowns that made Virginia Woolf, “one of the greatest novelists of the twentieth century…” (“Virginia Woolf” Woolf’s, “Kew Gardens”, is a classic short story written in 1919 that shows the importance of women’s rights and illustrates that even when you are surrounded by people you still can feel empty and alone. This significant story reflects Virginia’s life filled with depression even though she was a great success and had a happy marriage....   [tags: Virginia Woolf, ]
:: 1 Works Cited
1357 words
(3.9 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay about The Death of the Moth, by Virginia Woolf - The battle against death, while can be portrayed as magnificent, is ultimately pathetic and insignificant. Like a boulder tipping precariously off a cliff, one can exhibit the ardent desire to survive, yet against the fragility and impermanence of life, this desire is a pitiful effort in the face of impending failure. The hopelessness of such a situation is depicted in “The Death of the Moth” by Virginia Woolf, in which the moth incessantly endeavors to overcome the irresolvable dilemma of breaking through the barriers that contain it and visit the outside world....   [tags: The Death of the Moth, Virginia Woolf] 725 words
(2.1 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a Metaphor in Mrs. Dalloway, By Virginia Woolf - When WWI was over, many people questioned the brutality that carried on over the four years that the war was happening. The Europeans trust in authority and in their country began to collapse, and Modernism was a way they could respond to the damage of those beliefs. It was obvious that the old world was gone and a new one had started to arise. In this new world, while other aspects of Europe were advancing, improvement in the psychiatric treatment of mental conditions, for example shell-shock, fell short....   [tags: Virginia Woolf]
:: 5 Works Cited
2442 words
(7 pages)
Research Papers [preview]
Evolution of the Modern Woman in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse Essay - Evolution of the Modern Woman in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse examines the role of women or more specifically, the evolution of the modern woman. The two main female characters in the novel, Mrs Ramsay and Lily Briscoe, both represent different views on life and follow different paths on their search for meaning. Lily Briscoe transcends the traditional female gender roles embodied by Mrs Ramsay; by coming into her own as an independent and modern woman, she symbolises the advent of modernism and rejection of traditional Victorian values....   [tags: To The Lighthouse Essays Virginia Woolf ]
:: 1 Works Cited
1478 words
(4.2 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Humor and Tragedy in Virginia Woolf's Orlando Essay - Virginia Woolfe's "Orlando" uses both humor and tragedy to observe humanity's often absurd and eccentric superficial constructions, both of class and gender. Woolfe creates the distinctions between male and female but continuously shatters them to reveal the illusions we create about gender. As George Meredith suggests, comedy is created when "The comic poet dares to show us men and women coming to this mutual likeness" (15). Woolfe, however, goes beyond simply bringing men and women together as equals; she blends them together as one androgynous individual, the effect of which causes us to laugh at the artificial way in which society attempts to define gender....   [tags: Virginia Woolf Orlando Essays] 652 words
(1.9 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
The Duchess And The Jeweler by Virginia Woolf Essay - The Duchess and the Jeweler is the story of the world's greatest jeweler who had promised his mother to become the richest jeweler in the world in his childhood but now that his dream has materialized he does not feel satisfied. So trying to achieve satisfaction, knowingly he buys fake pearls from a Duchess in exchange for passing a whole weekend with her daughter whom he is in love with. The purpose of this essay is to show how Virginia Woolf has successfully presented the inner mind of the characters, their struggle and their communication through the least amount of verbal communication among them....   [tags: Virginia Woolf Duchess Jeweler] 1572 words
(4.5 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Essay on To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf - To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf When speaking of modernism in the work Virginia Woolf, scholars too readily use her innovations in style and technique as the starting point for critical analysis, focusing largely on the ways in which her prose represents a departure from the conventional novel in both style and content. To simply discuss the extent of her unique style, however, is to overlook the role of tradition in her creation of a new literary identity. In To the Lighthouse, Woolf's invention reveals itself instead as a reinvention, a recasting of the conventional through the use of the traditional....   [tags: Lighthouse Virginia Woolf Essays]
:: 7 Works Cited
2170 words
(6.2 pages)
Term Papers [preview]
The Set of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Essay - The Set of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.         For a play as drastically depressing and oppressive as Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the set needs to augment the mood as much as possible. Albee’s play calls for several props, and all of these have to be provided, but more than that, the set needs to look as real as possible, to show that these people are not vastly different from the rest of us. And because in that fact the true horror of the play resides the set is all-important. Luckily, the performance featured a realistic, intricate, close set....   [tags: Whos Afraid Virginia Woolf] 875 words
(2.5 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway Essay - Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway It is apparent throughout the Virgina Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway that the character development and complexity of the female characters of the story are concentrated on far more than their male counterparts. It is my feelings that the magnitude of this character development comes about because of the observations and feelings of the main character Mrs....   [tags: Virginia Woolf Dalloway] 1125 words
(3.2 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Viriginia Woolf Essay - Viriginia Woolf (this essay has problems with the format) One of the greatest female authors of all time, Virginia Woolf, produced a body of writing respected worldwide. Driven by uncontrollable circumstances and internal conflict, her life was cut short by suicide. Her role in feminism, along with the personal relationships in her life, influenced her literary works. Virginia's relationships throughout her life contributed, not only to her literature, but the quality of her life as well. Perhaps the greatest influence in Virginia's life is her mother, Julia Stephen....   [tags: Author Viriginia Woolf feminism relationships]
:: 4 Works Cited
1952 words
(5.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]