Mrs. Dalloway

A Modern Look at Gender; Internal and External Gendering in James Joyce and Virginia Woolf College

In the early twentieth century, many writers began to give a more complex, nuanced, and realistic portrayal of the issues that surround gender. Virginia Woolf, often heralded as one of the most important voices in feminist literature,[1] wrote about this concept in a way that, considering this was during her time a recently “new” issue, is startlingly astute and, to use a modern term, queer. James Joyce, in a similar way, tackled this concept in a way that was bold and dynamic, presenting gender as a complex internalised issue, a concept that defines our identities. Both Woolf and Joyce, in their respective texts, present gender in a highly realistic way that delves deep into this concept.

In “Mrs. Dalloway in Bond Street” Woolf provides a female character that presents both the internalisation of gender, as well as the inherent gendering of language. The story’s opening sentence presents this gendering of language: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the gloves herself.”[1] Clarissa Dalloway is initially introduced by her formal title, Mrs., clarifying that she is married, and therefore defining her character as a wife. By clarifying her marital status, Woolf projects onto the character of Clarissa all of the reader’s...

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