The Role Of Time In Mrs Dalloway By Virginia Woolf

2728 Words 11 Pages
In Mrs Dalloway, the modernist writer Virginia Woolf undermines the usual conventions of prior prose fiction by adopting an innovative approach to time. She contrasts the objective external time and …show more content…
So, the reader is constantly flowing from the present to the past or the future; here this adaptable temporality is outside chronology. However, Woolf doesn't outshine the chronological limits of the story beyond the single day which provides the framework of the actions. To illustrate this moving up and down in time, the second paragraph at the opening of the book is a good example. First the reader is introduced to Mrs Dalloway, and immediately s/he is taken back, through her thought stream, into her past as she steps into the streets:

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 ad 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 . . . (3)

Here the narrator conveys memory and present action to the
…show more content…
It occurs several times in the novel. The immediacy of the moment is then blended with the timeless memories of the past, which exists on its own and in its relations to the present.

Moreover, "this focus on the intensity of present time, shared by many modernist writers" (hand-out "Mrs Dalloway: time and the clocks") is highlighted by Clarissa's interjections. She loved "life; London; this moment of June" (4, my emphasis in bold type), all in all "what she loved was this, here, now, in front of her" (9, my emphasis in bold type). Therefore, she loves life and embraces the present. It can be added that the temporal unit is not only the day but the present moment.

Another major concern is the way characters' personality is represented. The use of the stream of consciousness technique provides the reader with the knowledge of the real characters' inner thoughts and reactions they perceived during the passing of time of one single day. By imitating the process of thoughts, Woolf brings the reader closer to the characters' life and feelings. For instance, Septimus' story is partly built through his own stream of consciousness.

Related Documents